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The carreta, a small oxen or burro drawn cart, brought thousands of people and their belongings into New Mexico over the Camino Real.  They were simple in design, yet very hearty to withstand the 1,500 mile trip from Mexico City to New Mexico.  They were hand-built by arriving colonists at Veracruz, Mexico City or Zacatecas, Mexico using native woods and a minimal amount of hand tools.
El Camino Real   International Heritage Center
Photo Gallery -- Our authentic Carreta
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The Center is deeply indebted to Mr. Gary Williams for building an authentic carreta -- the ox drawn carts that brought thousands of Spanish colonists to New Mexico over the Camino Real.
 
The carreta was dedicated on May 22, 2010.
Updated 22 May 2010
Carreta Dedication
Mr. Williams built the carreta at the Center over the winter months using only traditional hand tools and construction practices common in the 1600-1700s.
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Building the carreta
 
Our carreta was built by Gary Williams, an accomplished carpenter specializing in using only "old world" hand tools.  Mr. Williams has built other carretas based on historical research on how they were constructed.  One is on display at the Coronado State Monument in Bernallilo, NM.  Our carreta, now on display at the Center, was built entirely of native woods and traditional hand tools.  There are no nails, screws or other metal items in the carreta - items that were extremely rare in 1600-1700s Mexico and New Mexico.  The carreta is perfectly balanced, allowing the 400 pound cart to be easily moved by hand.  In practice, the wheels and axles were not lubricated due to becoming saturated with desert sand along the trail.  The wood bearings worked better "dry" -- but were known for their characteristic "squeek" sound as they traveled along the trail, reported to be heard from miles away.
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Gary Williams demonstrates the tools used to build the carreta and how they were used during a public presentation.  The biggest secret, he said, is to always ensure your tools were clean and sharp -- very sharp!
A small hand axe, or hatchet, is the most used tool for shaping the wood pieces. 
If the hatchet doesn't work on the larger wood pieces - then use this one!
Jose Guzman (left), Interim Manager of the Center, introduces Gary Williams at the carreta dedication.
Some of the people and Foundation Board members in attendance at the dedication.
Gary Williams answers questions and describes how he built the carreta.  The traditional use of the ox cart was used by the Spanish colonists along El Camino Real trail on their way to New Mexico in the 1600-1800s.
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