Cultural Resource Inventory 1

While fencing the expansion of the Painted Pony Resort evidence of former inhabitants both historic and prehistoric came to light prompting the initiation of a cultural resource inventory of the property.  The goal of this resource inventory is to build and understanding of the various uses of the property through time and gain insight into those who used the land in the past. 

Geographical setting:
The Painted Pony Resort lies in the alluvial San Simon Valley along the San Simon Riverbed in southwestern New Mexico just north of Rodeo, New Mexico's most western town.  It is situated about 3 miles from the base of the Peloncillo mountains to the east and 6 miles from the base of the Chiricahua mountains to the west at an elevation of 4100' msl.  The Peloncillo mountains rise to an elevation of 6000' just east of the resort while Portal Peak in the Chiricahua mountains rises to over 8000'.  Antelope pass and access to valleys and mountain ranges to the east is located several miles north east of the estate.  Located at the confluence of an old drainage from Cave Creek Canyon and just downstream of the confluence of drainage from Sulphur Draw the San Simon riverbed runs through the center of the expanded estate.

San Simon Valley resort
Painted Pony Resort and the San Simon Riverbed
east side of chiricahuas
Portal Peak in the Chiricahua mountains

mountains in new mexico
view of the Peloncillo mountains
Geological setting:
The land encompassed by the Painted Pony Resort lies on the alluvial San Simon valley floor in the basin and range province of the southwest. Both mountain ranges are composed of volcanic tuff interspersed with segments of limestone and intrusive granite at various points along their length, 1 and 2.

The mining history of the area includes prospects and mines at Granite Gap in the Peloncillo mountains and a number of mines in the Chiricahua mountains.  Recovering mostly base metals these mines are now abandoned.  The closest prospect to the Painted Pony Resort lies 2.5 miles to the east, known as the Purple Spar Prospect, a reference to flourite.

Hydrological setting:
The aquifer serving the San Simon valley around the Painted Pony Resort is composed of several units.  An upper alluvial aquifer, a lower aquifer separated by a lens of blue clay (bentonite).  This resulted in a pressurized artesien aquifer which fed several cienegas, one at the mouth of Cave Creek Canyon and the San Simon cienega, both now dry as the water pressure dropped.  The water table at the Painted Pony Resort lies at 110' below the surface, with 2 wells on the property both producing several gallons/minute for use.  The south well produces water with a temperature of about 100 degrees F.

Climate setting:
The climate in the high New Mexican desert is characterized by low precipitation, primarily occurring in the winter and late summer monsoon season, averaging about 20"/yr. While the temperatures are milder than lower elevations in the neighboring Sonoran desert summer temperatures may reach above 100 but cools rapidly after sunset.

Biological setting:
The San Simon Valley lies at the northern end of the Chihuahuan desert and the plant and animal communities reflect the desert environment, including Prong Horn antelope and Big Horn sheep.


Next: modern history of PPR.

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