|Samalayuca Dune Field|
|Medanos de Samalayuca|
View of the Medanos de Samalayuca near Samalayuca, Chihuahua.
|Elevation||3,872 ft (1,180 m)|
The Samalayuca Dune Fields, more traditionally known as Los Medanos (the dunes), or more recently referenced as Medanos de Samalayuca are a series of large but separated fields of sand dunes located in the northern part of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The dune fields are scattered over a wide expanse of desert to the south, southwest and southeast of Ciudad Juárez. The dune fields are located in a 2000 km2 area known as the Samalayuca Desert.
The Samalayuca Desert and its dune fields are part of the much larger Chihuahua Desert region.
The best known portion of the Samalayuca Dune Fields lie in and around the village of Samalayuca. These dune fields are the most noticeable because they lie across the much traveled north–south route between Chihuahua City and El Paso del Norte (Ciudad Juarez-El Paso). This portion of the dunes is also the most dramatic, having high dune profiles shaped by the wind in the lee of Cerro de Samalayuca.
The dunes are composed of almost pure quartz (SiO2).They are white or tan in appearance. They are fine and move with the wind. The wind has formed the dunes by carrying sand until it became deposited and concentrated in natural land depressions. The action of the wind continues to constantly reshape the dunes. Some of the dunes near Samalayuca are tall and dramatically shaped and marked by the wind.
For centuries the sands of these dune fields were historically significant because they lay across the much traveled north–south route between Chihuahua City and "The Pass of the North" at the site of the border cities of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso. kilometers of loose sand was laborious and dangerous, but travelers had the option of a longer (and thus more time-consuming) detour around the east side of the dune fields.Before the era of the modern highway and the railroad, travel by foot, horse or oxen across this extended barrier of some 30
Today the dune fields are becoming known for their tourist and recreational potential, and as a habitat for the many unique endemic species of plants and animals living in a rare ecosystem in the Samalayuca desert. The high silica content of the sands has also attracted industrial interest.
The sand dune area has traditionally been referred to as "Los Medanos" or simply, the dunes. The name Samalayuca Dune Fields is of more recent origin. The name "Los Medanos" is more commonly usedparticularly in historical accounts. Recently and increasingly the dune fields are referred by Spanish and non Spanish speakers as Medanos de Samalayuca.
The field and the desert gets its name from the town of Samalayuca, Chihuahua. There are historic springs in the area, which accounts for the location of the town. km directly south of Ciudad Juárez just east of Mexico Federal Highway 45. These high dunes are formed by the prevailing winds from the northwest dropping sands in the lee of Cerro de Samalayuca (Samalayuca Mountain), which lies close to Samalayuca village.The town is adjacent to the dramatic high dunes that lies some 52
The most dramatic portion of the Samalayuca dune fields lie east and west of Mexican Federal Highway 45 and the parallel Mexican Railway in an area 30 to 60 miles south of Juarez. This major north south highway and railroad, between Ciudad Juarez and the city of Chihuahua crosses through this dune area, and low dunes are visible for many kilometers on each side of the highway.
The dramatic high dunes that exist close to the village of Samalayuca may be seen in the distance from Federal Highway 45.These dune fields are formed by the prevailing wind from the northwest dropping sand particles in the lee of the Sierra Samalayuca (Samalayuca Mountains).
Besides the high dunes appearing in the area of the village of Samalayuca, the dune fields lie in several other areas of the Samalayuca desert to the southwest and southeast of Ciudad Juarez. A lesser known part of the Salamayuca dune field extends to the west from Samalayuca into the area southwest from Ciudad Juárez. This area (lying west of Mexico Federal Highway 45) is larger than the more dramatic high dune area near Samalayuca, and comprise the bulk of the Samalayuca desert area. These dune fields extend to the north where they lie across the (now abandoned) right of way of the defunct Mexico North Western Railway (Compañía del Ferrocarril Nor-Oeste de México) and extend into the Chihuahua municipality of Ascension. Smaller dune fields also extends to the east from the town of Salamayuca, into the municipality of Guadalupe.
The Samalayuca Dune fields lie directly across the main route of the Chihuahua Trail, part of the longer route known as El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, or the royal road of the interior. The portion of this route known as the Chihuahua Trail went north from Chihuahua City to Sante Fe, in New Mexico. From the time the Spanish colonial city of Sante Fe was founded in 1598 by the Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate there was steady and increasing freight and passenger traffic on this route.
The only major river on the trail was the Rio Grande. The trail crossed the river via a ford near the famous pass between the Juarez and Franklin mountain ranges. This ford and pass came to be known simply as "the Pass" (El Paso) or "The Pass of the North" (El Paso del Norte), and a town by the same name was first established south of the river, at the site of present-day Ciudad Juarez. A separate community also known as El Paso del Norte, was later established on the north side of the river in 1849 after the Mexican-U.S. War on United States Territory. The original Mexican community of El Paso del Norte south of the river changed its name to Ciudad Juarez in 1865.
However, in the segment of the Chihuahua trail from Chihuahua City and El Paso del Norte, where the trail reached a point some 45 miles south of the Pass of the North, the trail encountered a 15-mile stretch of the Samalayuca dune fields. The wind shifted and renewed the deep and finely gained deep sand beds in these dunes. The soft shifting sands made walking through the dune fields tiring and time-consuming for animals or people. Horses, oxen, mules and people could cross this sandy area only with great difficulty. The traditional two-wheeled carts (carreteras) could become bogged down in the sands.
In 1598, Juan de Oñate, a wealthy Zacatecas nobleman, set out northward from the Valle de San Bartolomé to establish a new northern colony, a "New" Mexico. He pioneered the Chihuahua Trail route. When he reached Los Medanos (the dunes), he attempted to cross but found the difficulty so great that he detoured to the east to go around the area of sand dunes, before trending north again to the area where he founded San Juan, the first capital of New Mexico.
Oñate's detour set a precedent, and thereafter an alternative trail led around the sand dunes near Salamaluca. South of the dunes the Chihuahua trail forked at Laguna de Patos (Duck Lake).The detour branched off south of the dunes at Lagunas de Patos and veered northeast for roughly 60 miles, across the southeastern margin of the dune fields till it reached the south bank of the Rio Grande del Norte. This branch then turned and followed the Rio Grande's south bank upstream in a northwest direction about 60 miles to The Pass of the North (El Passo Del Norte), where the two branches of the trail were again joined. After El Paso, the trail proceeded through the pass and on to Santa Fe.
At Laguna de Patos, the main branch of the Chihuahua Trail proceeded due north crossing the dune fields to reach El Paso del Norte in about 65 miles. In this distance the trail crossed through the sandy dunes for a distance of 12 to 15 miles, emerging from the sand to cross about 30 miles of desert brush lands to finally reach El Paso del Norte.
The detour around the dune fields added some fifty or sixty miles to the direct route through the dune fields. To a horseman traveling at 20 miles a day, this could mean a delay of three days.To a merchant caravan moving at twelve miles a day between Ciudad de Chihuahua and El Paso del North, this could mean a delay in transit of five or more days.
When traveling the route that led through the sand dunes near the village of Samalayuca water was critical. The only reliable water sources lay miles to the north and south of the sand dunes near Samalayuca. Water supplies near the dunes were very scarce.To be significantly delayed in the Salamayuca Sand Dunes in a dry year with limited water supplies could be fatal.
There were springs that flowed near the present settlement of Samalayuca on the northern edge of this stretch of sand.As stated below these springs were not reliable sources of water for two reasons.
These springs near Salamalayuca could be too saline for consumption. Recent surveys confirm that three springs exist in the area of Samalayuca, but the saline content renders two of them unfit for drinking. Water for those currently living in Samalayuca comes from hand dug shallow wells.
Travelers in the 1840s reported that the Ojo de Samalayuca (Samalayuca Springs) were seasonal.In the dry season of a dry year, these springs would cease to flow, which would leave no water source on the trail between the areas of El Paso del Norte in the north and the village of Carrizal in the south.
In order to avoid the delay of traveling around the dune fields on the detour, many travelers on the trail between Chihuahua and El Paso del Norte elected to go directly across the dune fields.
From the 1600s though the 1800s merchants, explorers, soldiers and the random tourist traveling on the Chihuahua trail found passage through the Samalayuca dunes difficult and dangerous. Throughout this period of three centuries the Apache Indians carried on their off and on guerrilla war with the encroaching Spanish, operating out of the Sierra Madre mountains to the west. They sporadically attacked and sometimes laid waste to hacienda/ranches and small settlements in the area. As part of this conflict the Apaches kept watch over the trail across the dunes, as well as the water holes in and around the dunes fields, in order to rob and kill vulnerable groups of travelers.
Even as late as 1882 travelers were "warned to avoid this point [Los Medanos] of all others while traveling through Chihuahua", and to take the alternative route around the dunes area, though some 60 miles longer, because "This place is attended by great danger from the attacks of the Apaches, who well know the helpless condition of animals passing and take the opportunity to attack parties."
While animals and persons found footing and traction to be difficult in the loose sands of the dunes, what was most dreaded was the difficulty of hauling loaded wagons or carts through the sand. These vehicles could bog down to their hubs.Some merchants going south from El Paso started out with carts loaded with goods, but would hire a mule train to accompany them. On arrival at the dunes, the goods from the carts would be loaded on the mule train and the emptied carts would then be pulled over the dunes. On the south side of the dunes the carts would be reloaded and proceed.
In 1842 a George W. Kendall made a diary as he traveled through the dunes. He was one of a group of political prisoners, who were marched down the Chihuahua trail, guarded by units of the Mexican army. He observed high "mountains" of loose sand along the trail. He noted that horses would sink in sand to their fetlocks, and walking in the sand exhausted men and animals. The two-wheeled carreteras would bog down in the sand and to pull them through this area required doubling the teams. Kendall also noted a large stone, weighing some 200 pounds directly in the path through the dune fields. Over many years passing gangs of muleteers had superstitiously adopted the custom of lifting the stone and moving it farther along, each gang moving it a few feet at a time towards Mexico City. Their recurrent activity, continuing over many decades were reported to have moved the stone some 14 miles.
In 1846 an English soldier of fortune reported the track through the dunes littered with skeletons and dead bodies of oxen, mules and horses. He reported the sand to be knee deep, and constantly shifting. The dunes caused death to animals and humans. "On one ridge the upper half of a human skeleton protruded from the sand".
Traveling by night avoided the punishing desert heat during the summer months, and in 1846 a German scientist Friedrich Adolph Wislizenus described such a night passage through the dunes. Flashes of lightning illuminated ghostly images of slow moving wagons, riders on horseback wrapped in blankets, and travelers on foot walking or sleeping beside the track. Quiet prevailed except for the cries of muleteers and the thunder, The winding passage of the procession through the dunes was marked with multiple pinpoints of light from "cigarritos".
During the Mexican War, Colonel Alexander William Doniphan led a force of about 1000 American soldiers south from El Paso. They had engaged to guard a merchant caravan of about 315 heavy wagons going to Chihuahua City. They elected to go through the Salamayuca Sands, rather than take the detour. After entering the dune fields, the mules pulling the heavy wagon train sank to their knees in the sand, and the wheels of the wagons buried to the hubs. With the merchant's wagons bogged down, men and animals began to suffer serious debility from lack of water. The column had to abandon thousands of pounds of supplies in order to free the wagons from the sands, and men and animals had to join together to push and pull the wagons forward out of the dune area. Once past the dunes, Colonel Doniphan went on south, and still accompanied by the wagon train he defeated a Mexican force at the Battle of the Sacramento River, thereafter capturing Chihuahua City.
Today, the original trail (except for the branch which skirted the Samalayuca sand dunes) from Chihuahua, Mexico to El Paso, Texas lies beneath or beside Mexico's Federal Highway 45.Paralleling the highway is a railroad, now used only to haul freight.
A traveler on Highway 45 passes over the sandy areas without difficulty.
The white to tan sands of the dune fields are almost pure silica. On average, the sand contains 90-95% quartz and 5-10% mixed rock grains.
The particle shapes are nodular and spheroid. they were formed by airflow erosion of rocks that created small fragments that were then carried away by the wind, to be deposited in natural land depressions.Another factor assisting in the formation of the dunes is the abrupt changes of temperature that exist in the desert, which assisted in the breaking up of surface rock into sand grains.
In large dune systems, many species of plants and animals evolve and adapt to the harsh environment, and thus become unique and endemic. The Samalayuca dunes are no exception. They provide the habitat for 248 vegetal and 154 animal species, most of them endemic.The area is therefore biologically unique on a global scale, and is receiving greater attention as a biosphere. Most of the known endemic species in the Samalayuca Dunes are plants and various native bee species.
The several million tons of sand in the Salamayuca dunes can be considered as an enormous potential of silica sand since they are 90 to 95 pure silica (SiO2). Silica sand is widely used in what is called "the transforamation industry", for the making of glass, silicates, paints, glass-ceramics and ceramics.The sand of the Salamayuca dunes has attracted attention from the ceramic/glass industry but the desert sand contains sufficient impurities to pose problems with its use in industry, and a process to increase uniform purity to 97.5% SiO2 would have to be developed. Because the sands start with such a high percentage of silica, such a process is deemed feasible.
The dramatic appearance of the dunes near Samalayuca, visible from Highway 45, has generated tourism interest in the dunes. This includes adventure tourism. Tourists hike in the dunes, ride over them in various vehicles, and slide down the dunes on sand boards.
On June 5 of 2009, the Mexican federal government created a protected area of 63,182 hectares (631.82 km2, or 156,126.12 acres) in Samalayuca dune fields.
The Samalayuca Dunes were used to film many of the exterior shots in the 1984 movie Dune .The dunes were also used as a location for another 1984 film, Conan The Destroyer .
The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. After passing through the length of New Mexico along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth- or fifth-longest river system in North America.
Ciudad Juárez is the most populous city in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The city is commonly referred to as simply Juárez, and was known as El Paso del Norte until 1888. Juárez is the seat of the Juárez Municipality with an estimated population of 1.5 million people. It lies on the Rio Grande river, south of El Paso, Texas, United States. Together with the surrounding areas, the cities form El Paso–Juárez, the second largest binational metropolitan area on the Mexico–U.S. border, with a combined population of over 2.7 million people.
El Paso is a city and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, in the far western part of the state. The 2018 population estimate for the city from the U.S. Census was 682,669, making it the 22nd largest city in the United States. Its metropolitan statistical area (MSA) covers all of El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas, and has a population of 840,758.
The name Jornada del Muerto is translated loosely from Spanish, historically referring to it as the "Journey of the Dead Man", though the modern literal translation is closer to "The Working Day of the Dead". As a geographic name, "Jornada del Muerto" is the desert region the Conquistadors had to cross to make it from Las Cruces to Socorro, New Mexico. As a name-place, "Jornada del Muerto" is a loose translations of "single day's journey of the dead man" hence "route of the dead man". In the U.S. state of New Mexico it was the name given by the Spanish conquistadors to the Jornada del Muerto Desert basin, and the particularly dry 100-mile (160 km) stretch of a route through it.
The Mexico North-Western Railway or Compañía del Ferrocarril Nor-Oeste de México was a railroad that operated in Mexico between Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, via Nuevo Casas Grandes in the western portion of the state of Chihuahua. Prior to 1909, it was known as the Rio Grande, Sierra Madre & Pacific Railway. It was built with mostly Canadian capital in order to reach logging and mining operations. Its subsidiary operation, the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad, extended into the US at El Paso, Texas. In 1954 the railway was merged into the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México and the El Paso Southern sold to the Southern Pacific railroad. During the latter years of operation (1947-1954), the railway was controlled by tunnel magnate "Subway Sam" Rosoff, who also controlled large lumber interests along the route.
The Camino Real de Tierra Adentro was an historic 2,560-kilometre-long (1,590 mi) trade route between Mexico City and San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, USA, from 1598 to 1882. It was the northernmost of the four major "royal roads" that linked Mexico City to its major tributaries during and after the Spanish colonial era.
The El Diario de El Paso is the primary Spanish-language newspaper for the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas. The paper was founded on May 16, 2005 by El Diario de Juárez. It originally started out as a Mexican newspaper circulated throughout Ciudad Juárez under the name Diario de Juárez. In 1982 Diario de Juárez entered into the El Paso business community by opening a small sales and circulation office. The company became incorporated in Texas as Editora Paso del Norte, Inc..
By 1659 Piro Indians had begun settling in the area of Paso del Norte. The Mission Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe was established by Fray García for them. This mission became the southernmost of the New Mexico chain of missions along El Camino Real from Mexico City to Santa Fe. The original structure remains as a side chapel of the Cathedral of Juarez. The Piro settlement formed the core of the original Ciudad del El Paso del Norte, which later became La Ciudad de Benito Juárez and is in the present-day state of Chihuahua. Many Native Americans were forced into Christianity. They rebelled against the Spanish a few years later.
North Franklin Mountain is a mountain in the Franklin Mountains of El Paso, Texas, located in the Southwestern United States. North Franklin, at 7,192 feet (2,192 m), is the highest point in El Paso, and the 27th-highest mountain in the state of Texas. Surrounded by a state park and with a maintained trail leading to its summit, the mountain is a popular hiking destination.
U.S. Highway 85 or US 85 is a route in the system of United States Numbered Highways maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The Texas portion of US 85 is located entirely within El Paso County beginning at the U.S.-Mexico border between the city of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. The approximately 20-mile (32 km) route briefly overlays US 62 in downtown El Paso, then traverses north along the city's west side before merging with the combined route of Interstate 10 and US 180. The route then follows I-10 and US 180 through the towns of Vinton and Anthony before crossing the New Mexico state line into the town of Anthony, New Mexico, in Doña Ana County.
The Bridge of the Americas (BOTA) is a group of international bridges which cross the Rio Grande and Texas State Highway Loop 375, connecting the Mexico–United States border cities of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua and El Paso, Texas, via the MX 45 from the south and the I-110 from the north, crossing the El Paso BOTA Port of Entry. The bridge is colloquially known as "Puente Libre" in Ciudad Juárez, officially as "Puente Internacional Córdova-Las Américas" or "Puente Internacional Córdova de las Américas", and also known as "Puente Río Bravo", "Cordova Bridge" and "Free Bridge".
Chihuahua, officially the Estado Libre y Soberano de Chihuahua, is one of the 32 states which comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in Northwestern Mexico and is bordered by the states of Sonora to the west, Sinaloa to the southwest, Durango to the south, and Coahuila to the east. To the north and northeast, it has a long border with the U.S. adjacent to the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas. Its capital city is Chihuahua City.
Founded as El Paso del Norte by Spanish Franciscan friars at an important mountain pass, the area became a small agricultural producer though most settlement was south of the river where modern Mexico lies. The city was considered part of New Mexico under Spanish Conquerors and was tied economically to Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Chihuahuan mining districts of San Felipe El Real and San José del Parral.
El Paso–Juárez, also known as Juárez–El Paso, the Borderplex or Paso del Norte, is a transborder agglomeration, on the border between Mexico and the United States. The region is centered on two large cities: Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, U.S. Additionally, nearby Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S. is sometimes included as part of the region, referred to as El Paso–Juárez–Las Cruces or El Paso–Juárez–Southern New Mexico. With over 2.7 million people, this binational region is the 2nd largest conurbation on the United States–Mexico border. The El Paso–Juárez region is the largest bilingual, binational work force in the Western Hemisphere.
In the American Old West overland trails were popular means of travel used by pioneers and immigrants throughout the 19th century, and especially between 1829 and 1870 as an alternative to sea and railroad transport. These immigrants began to settle North America west of the Great Plains as part of the mass overland migrations of the mid-19th century. Settlers emigrating from the eastern United States were spurred by various motives, among them religious persecution and economic incentives, to move to destinations in the far west. Many routes were used, including the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Mormon Trail. After the end of the Mexican–American War in 1849, vast new American conquests again enticed mass immigration. Legislation like the Donation Land Claim Act and significant events like the California Gold Rush further lured people to travel overland to the west.
Southern Emigrant Trail, also known as the Gila Trail, the Kearny Trail, Southern Trail and the Butterfield Stage Trail, was a major land route for immigration into California from the eastern United States that followed the Santa Fe Trail to New Mexico during the California Gold Rush. Unlike the more northern routes, pioneer wagons could travel year round, mountain passes not being blocked by snows, however it had the disadvantage of summer heat and lack of water in the desert regions through which it passed in New Mexico Territory and the Colorado Desert of California. Subsequently, it was a route of travel and commerce between the eastern United States and California. Many herds of cattle and sheep were driven along this route and it was followed by the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line in 1857-1858 and then the Butterfield Overland Mail from 1858 - 1861.
Parque del Plata is a city of the Costa de Oro in the Canelones Department of southern Uruguay.
The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
The Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral Also Ciudad Juárez Cathedral Is the name of a Catholic cathedral church dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, that is located in Ciudad Juárez in the border state of Chihuahua, in Mexico, in the area called Historical Center. It was built in the middle of the second half of the twentieth century and is attached to the old and still preserved Franciscan mission, founded in the 17th century, in the then Paso del Norte.
Lake Palomas is a former lake in New Mexico, United States, and Chihuahua, Mexico. This lake was relatively large and reached a size of about 9,100 square kilometres (3,500 sq mi) during its highstands. Preceded by Lake Cabeza de Vaca, it formed during the Pleistocene and continued into the Holocene, when several different lake phases occurred. Presently its basin is a major source of airborne dust in the region.
|url=value (help). Vol 5, Number 1, p. 5. Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail Association, and the El Paso Historical Society. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
|year=(help)CS1 maint: location (link)
|date=(help)There are 3 fresh-water springs with ponds on the northeast flank of the sierra, but only the middle one may be used by strangers without fear of sickness. Water for the houses in Samalayuca is taken from hand-dug wells at the homesites and almost all of these wells are less than 15 meters deep. The houses are built of adobe and of stone from the sierra.