A Landing a Day

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Quemado, Pie Town and Datil, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on July 24, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2358; A Landing A Day blog post number 789.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (34o 6.321’N, 108o 20.465’W) puts me in W-Cen New Mexico:

And my local landing map:

Traditionally, at this point in the post, I present a StreetAtlas streams-only map.  Well, as we New Jerseyans say:  fuggettaboutit.

As regulars know, I turn to Google Earth (GE) when I need to manually track what happens to rainfall that falls on my landing.  But first, there’s one thing I won’t fuggetabout and that’s the ceremonial placement of my GE yellow push-pin.  In GE’s inimitable style, the yellow pushpin will descend from the heavens.  To ride along on this descent, click HERE.

Getting back to my watershed analysis.  I ended up placing a series of “temp” yellow push-pins along my drainage pathway until I could figure out a named stream. 

Here’s the GE shot:

About halfway between my landing and the Grand Canyon, I was able to figure out that I was in the watershed of the Little Colorado River (20th hit). 

Wiki had a good Little Colorado River watershed map (showing the watershed extending SE into New Mexico):

I noticed the Zuni River, and with a little more cross-checking, was able to figure out that I, in fact, landed in the Zuni River watershed (2nd hit). 

Before I forget – of course the Little Colorado discharges to the Big Colorado, right there in the Grand Canyon (179th hit).

No surprise, I don’t have much in the way of GE Street View coverage.  But I’ll scare two birds with one stone (I’m a lousy thrower and could never kill two birds with one stone), putting the Orange Dude where my drainage makes its way under U.S. Route 60:

Just so you have some confidence in my analysis, here’s the large culvert under Route 60 that carries my drainage under the road:

And here’s what the OD sees, looking south (upstream) towards my landing:

Oh my!  Flash flood alert!  Flash flood alert!  I wonder if some runoff made it’s way under Route 60 (maybe washing that little barn away) . . .

So anyway, going back to my local landing map, you can see my three titular towns.  I think I’ll work my way west to east along Route 60.  So, I’ll start with Quemado.

Let me start with a GE overview:

In spite of its small population (230), it has some substance – a sewage treatment plant (I think) and a high school.  But surprisingly, Wiki has essentially nothing to say about Quemado, to the point that I probably shouldn’t have made it titular.  Oh, well. 

But anyway, I was perusing GE Panoramio shots, and noticed this by Jean Bourret:

What caught my eye are the four signs up near the roof that proclaim “BACK IN TIME ELAINE!” 

I have no idea what that means!  The other signs are pretty funny.  “Now Open”?? It would look more open if the owners would trim the weeds out front.   “Signs”??  Based on the signs on the building, is this where I’d go to get my sign made?

Anyway, I took to Street View to get another look at this building.  And here’s what the OD could see:

Wait a minute!  This is really different.  Which one is newer?  Well, it turns out that the GE SV shot is dated 8/2008, and the GE Pano shot was uploaded 10/2012.  So, the whole Elaine thing is more recent. . .

On the east side of town is a Catholic church, the Sacred Heart Church.  I usually don’t post church pictures, but this looks very cool, more like a historic ruin.  Here’s a GE Pano shot, also by Monsieur Bourret:

The church looks ancient (and may be), but it’s actually an active congregation!  I couldn’t find any history on the building . . .

So, it’s time to move to Pie Town (pop 128).  One might think that Pie Town was named after early settler John Pie, right?  Let’s see what Wiki has to say:

Its name comes from an early bakery that specialized in dried-apple pies; it was established by Clyde Norman in the early 1920s.

All right!  It really was named after pies!  So – you’ll never guess what Pie Town is famous for today.  Oh, so you can guess?  And – you’re right.  I’ll let some pictures do the talking.  I found an article in SeriousEats.com, with pictures by Jesse Oleson Moore:


And this, from Pieoneer.com (available for sale!):

[News Flash.  After writing this post, but before I published it, I went to the Pieoneer.com website and ordered the above shirt.]

And then, I found this, from NPR (12/6/12 by Claire O’Neal), which has nothing to do with pies:

The Depression is something we usually see in black and white. But there do exist some remarkable color photos from the era, taken by photographers who were hired to document the country in the 1930s and ’40s.

Russell Lee was one of more than a dozen itinerant photographers working for the Farm Security Administration, a New Deal project to redress rural poverty. He was driving across a remote part of New Mexico with his wife and stopped randomly in Pie Town to get something to eat. Who wouldn’t?

The scenes of rural New Mexico life caught his eye, and the rest became history.

Anyway, there are dozens of 1940 Pie Town Russell Lee photos on the web.  Here are a few of my favorites, beginning with a picture of a homesteader with pinto beans:

Shooting hawks that were stealing chickens:

Arriving at the town barbecue:

Men eating at the barbecue:

Getting a car unstuck:

Saying grace at the barbecue:

Homesteader’s cabin:

Moving on to Datil.  Wiki:

Datil is named after the nearby Datil Mountains. The name of the mountains came in turn from the Spanish word dátil, meaning “date”; the name most likely resulted from the fruit-like appearance of the seedpods of local yucca species.

The Very Large Array (VRA) is just 15 miles east of Datil.

VRA, eh?  Here’s a write-up from Atlas Obscura:

Western New Mexico is high, dry land, with scrub brush in the brown dirt and hills in the distance. There are no trees and few towns… and then there is the Very Large Array, 27 huge, white radio antennae arranged in a massive Y off US Route 60. Each dish is 230 tons and 82 feet in diameter, and by electronically combining all the data from the 27 dishes, astronomers can simulate the sensitivity of a dish with a diameter of 422 feet: bigger than any single dish in the world. Since its construction in the late 1970s, research has been conducted here on supernovae, black holes, dark energy and SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life.

Here’s a NASA shot of the array:

And a closer-in GE Pano shot by Richard Ryer:

Speaking of GE Pano, it’s that time again, where I look for spectacular (but often have to settle for less-than-spectacular) GE Pano Shots.  I’ll start with this one from the less-than-spectacular camp, selected because it’s the closest to my landing (less than three miles north).  Evidently, this property is for sale, as the Pano shot is by NM West Properties:

Here’s a shot of “The Biscuit,” about 15 miles west of my landing by Lon Brehmer:

And I’ll close with a shot of The Frozen Biscuit by TammD:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day


One Response to “Quemado, Pie Town and Datil, New Mexico”

  1. Cher said

    I love Pietown!

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