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El Camino Real    International Heritage Center
Photo Gallery - Photos of the Trail
Page 4
Credit: Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
Interstate 25 runs alongside a distinct portion of El Camino Real north of Fort Selden. El Camino is the irregular trail on the left; to the right is a county road and I-25; to the far right is the railroad line for the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe (AT&SF) railroad, now Burlington Northern & Santa Fe (BNSF).
 
This aerial photo is looking south towards Las Cruces; the Fort Selden Rest Area on I-25 is shown in the lower right. It is a short walk from the rest area to the trail.
 
In the distance, El Camino Real leaves the Rio Grande, crossing I-25 to the east. This departure from the river marks the beginning of the trail through the Jornada del Muerto.
Some photos of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro
and landmarks along the trail
Credit: Paul Harden/ECRIHC
Mesa de Contadero, also called Black Mesa, was a major landmark along the trail. Located north of the Center, it marked the end of the Jornada del Muerto, and only three weeks to go to reach Santa Fe.
Credit: Paul Harden/ECRIHC
Long time resident Albert Zimmerly points out El Camino Real north of Parida arroyo at Pueblito, north of Socorro. Coming down the hill, wagons would lock their wheels for braking, forming the scars on the hill. (Enlarge to see wagon scars)
Credit: Paul Harden/ECRIHC
El Camino Real between La Joya and Contreras is an old dirt road, still called "Camino Viejo" on Socorro County road signs.
Credit: Paul Harden/ECRIHC
This monument, erected by the Sierra County Historical Society, marks El Camino Real through the Jornada del Muerto about a mile west of Engle, New Mexico
Credit: Paul Harden/ECRIHC
A sunset view of El Camino Real through the Jornada del Muerto. This photo was taken where the trail passes near Engle, New Mexico.
Credit: Paul Harden/ECRIHC
In the 1920s-1930s, El Camino was temporarily used for the first auto route from Las Cruces to Santa Fe. Passage through arroyos were fortified by cement. This pristine section is north of La Joya, New Mexico.
Credit: Paul Harden/ECRIHC
El Camino Real up La Bajada Hill, south-west of Santa Fe. This old 1930s post card shows the trail being used for early auto travel. Today's I-25 scales La Bajada Hill to the right of this view, allowing portions of the trail to be seen to the north of the Interstate. 
Credit: Paul Harden/ECRIHC
In many places, the only evidence of the trail are miles of mosquite bushes running in straight lines - caused by mosquite
seeds in the droppings of the oxen. The swale to the left of this line of mosquite is El Camino Real near Paraje, delineated by the line of mosquite bushes.
More photos ... but first, a little tutorial on trails.
Credit: Paul Harden/ECRIHC
Inspite it's appearance, this is NOT a wagon trail.  Two parallel tracks are generally made by automobiles. There are a few exceptions, such as old wagon trails across clay, but seldom found on El Camino Real.
Credit: Paul Harden/ECRIHC
A less distinct portion of the trail where the swale is being filled in by vegetation - and soon another section of the trail will disappear. This view is along the west side trail from Canta Recio to Ft. Craig. It was used by smaller wagons and thus a narrower swale than the main trail.
Swales ... caused by the wagons and animals along the trail.
Credit: Museo de Historia, Chihuahua
Most early settlers along El Camino Real used small wagons called carretas - loaded with their earthly belongings and items needed for the six month trip to Santa Fe. Distance between the wheels is about 6 feet.
Credit: Museo de Historia, Chihuahua
These huge wagons were typical to those used in the supply caravans along El Camino Real. The wheels are 8-10 feet in diameter, 12 feet apart, and carried 4 to 6 tons. Along Camino Real, they were pulled by oxen, not horses as in this photo.
Credit: Library of Congress
The conestoga wagons, or prarie schooners, became popular along the Santa Fe Trail in the late 1820s. Thereafter, they were used to carry American goods along El Camino Real to Chihuahua during the later years of the trail. These wagons also had a wheel base of about 6 feet.
Credit: Library of Congress
Wagon train caravans often traveled two, three or four wagons wide, as the land permitted.  This would leave a swale 30 feet or more in width, as found in places along El Camino Real in Mexico and along the Jornada del Muerto. 
Examples of El Camino Real trail in New Mexico
click photos to enlarge
Credit: BLM
As described above, El Camino Real is a swale 12 to 30 feet wide - not two wagon tracks - caused by the draft animals pulling the wagons.
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Photos of El Camino Real
What wagon trails looks like
Wagons used along El Camino Real
Updated: 06 Dec 2007
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Credit: BLM
Wagon trails, including Camino Real, are "swales" of no or little vegetation where the large supply wagons and teams of draft animals once traveled. This view is on the southern end of the Jornada del Muerto.
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Credit: Google Earth
The same view of the trail as seen on a satellite image from Google Earth.  Though the trail is disappearing in many places from vegetation growth, erosion, and urban sprawl, some dominant sections of the trail remain distinctly visible. Many miles of El Camino Real through the Jornada del Muerto can still be seen from space - as shown here from a satellite image.  There are also sections of the trail identifiable from satellite and aerial photography that are difficult to recognize from ground level.
 
As time goes on, more and more of the trail will disappear.  The Bureau of Land Management, and numerous independent amateurs, have spent hours of field work identifying those sections of the trail remaining.
 
The most dominant remaining sections of the trail exist between Las Cruces and La Joya (north of Socorro), and between La Bajada Hill and Santa Fe.