Due west from Albuquerque, New Mexico, not far from the Arizona boundary, El Morro National Monument conserves a mesa end of striking beauty upon whose cliffs are graven many inscriptions cut in passing by the Spanish and American explorers of more than two centuries. It is a historical record of unique value, the only extant memoranda of several expeditions, an invaluable detail in the history of many. It has helped trace obscure courses and has established important departures. To the tourist it brings home, as nothing else can, the realization of these grim romances of other days.
El Morro, the castle, is also called Inscription Rock. West of its steepled front, in the angle .of a sharp bend in the mesa, is a large partly enclosed natural chamber, a refuge in storm. A spring here betrays the reason for El Morro’s popularity among the explorers of a semidesert region. The old Zuni trail bent from its course to touch this spring. Inscriptions are also found near the spring and on the outer side of the mesa facing the Zuni Road.
For those acquainted with the story of Spanish exploration this national monument will have unique interest., To all it imparts a fascinating sense of the romance of those early days with which the large body of Americans have yet to become familiar. The popular story of this romantic period of American history, its poetry and its fiction remain to be written.
The oldest inscription is dated February 18, 1526. The name of Juan de Onate, later founder of Santa Fe, is there under date of 1606, the year of his visit to the mouth of the Colorado River. One of the latest Spanish inscriptions is that of Don Diego de Vargas, who in 1692 reconquered the Indians who rebelled against Spanish authority in 1680.
The reservation also includes several important community houses of great antiquity, one of which perches safely upon the very top of El Morro rock.