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San Andres National Wildlife Refuge
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Historic rock house remains on the Refuge. Photo taken by M. Weisenberger, Refuge Wildlife Biologist
Historic rock house remains on the Refuge. Photo Credit: M. Weisenberger, USFWS
San Andres National Wildlife Refuge's Past
The San Andres Mountains have had a rich and colorful history. The Spanish Conquistador Don Juan Onate passed west of the Refuge in 1598 and established
the famous Camino Real (Royal road) to Santa Fe. For centuries Spanish and others came and went along the west edge of the San Andres along the Camino Real.  Legends persist of lost Spanish gold throughout the mountains.

Evidence of early Native Americans including the Mogollon culture has been found on the Refuge dating back to 900 AD. Later, Apache tribes defended this land from European invaders until the 1880’s. Settlers in northern Mexico braved Apache reprisal to gather salt from spring-fed playas in the Tularosa Basin. On their “salt road,” they drank from San Nicholas Spring below the Refuge and the tracks from their wooden carts are still visible today in areas. Several skirmishes were fought between Apache Chief Victorio and the United States Cavalry in the San Andres Mountains. From the 1880’s well into the Great Depression, prospectors hiked up and down the mountain range looking for minerals and hoping to strike it rich. Numerous old mines can be found on the Refuge. Ranchers colonized the area and raised horses and Angora goats up until the establishment of the White Sands Missile Range
To View Historic Correspondence From the Refuge's Files, Click the Links Below:
Please note that not all of the .pdf files below are formatted for accessibility readers due to document age. As
indicated, three of the .pdf files below exceed 500 KB and may require additional time to download for viewing.
History of Bighorn status, 1943(.pdf 1,725 KB) A History of Land Use, 1944(.pdf 2,254 KB)
Memorandum for the files, 1944  Bighorns on the Border, 1947(.pdf 3,191 KB)
Mysteries Locked in San Andres,1972 Initial Steps for Desert Bighorn Sheep, '71
The original horse trailers were hand made by Refuge staff. The trailers were simply scrap pieces of metal welded together.

Historic photo of Refuge desert bighorn sheep lamb. Photo taken by former Refuge staff, USFWS
Historic photo of Refuge desert bighorn sheep lamb. Credit: USFWS
Remnants of Rock Houses are evidence of heavy mining activity in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Interior view of Historic Goat Cabin. Photo taken by M. Weisenberger, Refuge Wildlife Biologist
Remnants of rock houses are evidence of heavy mining activity in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Interior view of Historic Goat Cabin. Credit: Weisenberger, USFWS
Indian pottery shard on the Refuge. Photo taken by M. Weisenberger, Refuge Wildlife Biologist
Indian pottery shard on the Refuge. Photo Credit: Weisenberger, USFWS
Former Refuge Manager, Cecil Kennedy looking northeast down Refuge canyons in 1942. Photo taken by former Refuge Manager, Art Halloran, USFWS
Former Refuge Manager, Cecil Kennedy looking northeast down Refuge canyons (1942), USFWS.
Refuge Quick Grabs New Mexico National Refuges and Hatcheries San Andres National Wildlife Refuge Profile San Andres National Wildlife Refuge Passport Book Stamp. This image has not been formatted for an accessibility reader. San Andres National Wildlife Refuge Brochure Images of San Andres National Wildlife Refuge aerial views Free Adobe Reader download
Last updated: January 9, 2014
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