Portales NM - Blackwater Draw National Landmark 04/2022

The Blackwater Draw National Landmark is defined as a 640 acre landscape of human activity areas in an upland containing a spring-fed Pleistocene Lake. Many species of extinct fauna are found in cultural levels, as are implements made from stone, bone and ivory by the region’s first inhabitants. As a major water source in the area, this locality was used throughout the entirety of prehistory and well into historic times, leaving an archaeological palimpsest of occupations and cultural activities. The Paleoindian occupation of the site is by far the most extensive with thousands of tools littering the landscape amidst an enormous number of megafauna and smaller animal kills.

Interesting story about George Agogino who is documented in the last photo. Senior year in high school they offered a series of scholarship tests at Eastern New Mexico University. Being both inept and stupid, knew there was no chance on math, business, or anything that mattered. But they had a new thing called paleontology. The day of the test conflicted with some school event so I arranged to take the test at some professor’s house in the evening. Very gracious host and a room just filled with cool stuff. Unfortunately I knew even less about old bones and cultures than a fly on the wall. Wrote some really stupid essay answers and was embarrassed how poorly I looked. Didn’t know until years later that it was Agogino himself at his house. This was before he became famous. Cringe. Wonder if that had anything to do with what my hobbies turned out to be?

Blackwater Draw is a significant site of early human occupation in New Mexico, where traces of camping and hunting around an ancient basin became the focus of twentieth-century archaeological excavations, as industrial gravel quarrying exposed artifacts crucial to understanding early Americans known as Paleoindians. The site’s complex history and its importance in developing archaeological models of the past led to its recognition as a National Historic Landmark. The site was the first scientifically-accepted evidence that people had been in the Americas before a few thousand years ago.

The draw was as far as a young kid would bicycle for a day trip. A little bit too far. Only did it a few times growing up and didn't know what I was seeing when I was there. Half of that was that Sam Sanders, who owned the gravel pit the dig was at, used to talk about it whenever he was in the shop. At the time, thought the sand dunes at Oasis State Park which was next to the dig, was more interesting. Now, not so much.

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