2013 Archaeological – Historical Report of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Monument

The following is an excerpt from Cultural Resources, Archaeology And History of the Proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, Doña Ana County, New Mexico: An Exploration of Significance and Risks for a National Treasure

By Rebecca Procter , Ph.D., Jean Fulton, and Polly Shaafsma
July 1, 2013

Download the full paper.

Executive Summary

An abundance of unique and outstanding natural and cultural resources make the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument a national treasure. It is the cultural resources, however, that distinguish this region as one that stands out for special protection.

Among the most important cultural features are:

  • Spectacular prehistoric rock art carved and painted onto the cliffs in styles unknown elsewhere;
  • Ancient archaeological sites showing up to ten thousand years of human occupation;
  • Twenty two miles of the historic Butterfield Stagecoach Trail and at least one partially preserved stage stop by the Rough and Ready Hills;
  • Sites related to the Apache wars and the last days of Chief Geronimo’s battles with the U.S. Army, including a wellknown site locally known as “Geronimo’s Cave;”
  • Locations where the infamous Billy the Kid attempted to remain hidden from his pursuers, including “Outlaw Rock” where Billy the Kid’s inscription is still visible ;
  • World War II Aerial Targets used by Deming Air Base preparing for World War II;
  • Gadsden Purchase International Boundary; and
  • Historic locations of Spanish settlement and Anglo ranching.

The resources represented in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area are ideal for enhancing the public values of:

  • Historic and Environmental Protection
  • Heritage Interpretation
  • Recreation
  • Economic Development and Tourism
  • Education
  • Community Pride
  • Cultural Preservation

The threats to these remarkable cultural materials are tremendous, and are increasing every day. The threats come as much from inadvertent destruction and lack of knowledge as from outright looting and treasure hunting. Protection of this region will allow the people of southern New Mexico and all Americans to benefit from the special heritage of this area and from the recreational and economic rewards deriving from that heritage.