"Castaño de Sosa’s Route" Waymark
Old Records and Archeological Remains: Making Sense of the EvidenceTexas beyond History:
Gaspar Castaño de Sosa is often mentioned as a footnote to Juan de Oñate who in 1598 established the first successful colony in New Mexico.
The reason for this association is that Castaño set out with the intention of establishing a colony but is cited historically for being a failure.
Instead, he was an tragic example of jealousy and how the envy of lesser men can impact the course of history. His rival, Captain Juan Morlete,
presented false testimony to all who would listen. And they did listen, as is human nature, viewing Castaño as greedy, and not seeing Morlete's
envy. This set the stage for Morlete to trace Castaño's trail (presumably up the Pecos) and intercept him in the Santa Fe/Santo Domingo area.
There he arrested Castaño and they followed the Rio Grande south, with Castaño in shackles. It was not until many years later that this treachery
was acknowledged and documented. Even then, recognition for the first colony is attributed to Oñate rather than to Castaño.

The significance of this for our search is that there should be (or may be) two trails up the river that date to this time period, one relating to
Castaño and the other to Morlete. (There should also be evidence of the Espejo expedition from a few years earlier._ There are insufficient
records to know for sure which route Morlete took but since he was charged with catching up with the expedition and returning natives to their
homelands (that had apparently been kidnapped by Castaño and sold to the mines) it is reasonable to infer that Castaño followed the same
general route up the Pecos, though perhaps in a more expedited manner, in an effort to overtake Castaño.

Castaño's record of the trip is not especially precise and he did not always note the number of leagues traveled. Moreover, as is typical of
historical journals, there are a variety of ways to interpret the document. Some scholars (Schroeder and Matson) recount a fairly slow journey
that places the group in the Carlsbad area relatively late (late November), whereas Hammond and Rey move him along rather rapidly,
suggesting the smoke in the mountains is the Guadalupes (page 260) rather than the Davis Mountains, as Schroeder and Matson suggest (page
61), which transports him north of Carlsbad relatively quickly. Hull provides an even quicker journey. How is one to reconcile these different
interpretations? Without an archaeological record scholars will continue to disagree, because there is no objective and independent data with
which to discern between options. Thus, our quest begins...


THE PROCESS: ISOLATING PROBABLE ROUTES AND AREAS WORTHY OF INVESTIGATION

Our effort begins by taking the various translations of the Castaño journal, and using Google Earth with our knowledge of the local terrain and
landscape, to plot the general route on aerials. This actually entails plotting several possible routes, following them out to their end conclusion
with respect to comparision of journal descriptions. In the end the best-fitting routes will be ground checked to look for archaeological evidence
of the expedition.

Key terrain attributes, such as a "big bend to the west" in the river, are matched to the aerials, thereby presenting a list of possible alternative
places and routes. Because several descriptive hints are given one can keep moving through the journal until one observation excludes a
particular route based on modern and known historic attributes of the river and region. This methodology is viable but it is easy to get waylaid by
inherent assumptions that may be ill founded. Consequently it is important to identify specific assumptions and state explicitly how and why they
are being connected to the documentary record. For example, is the "grove visible from where we had camped" really Willow Lake or are there
(were there) other alternative locations with an abundance of moisture to support a riparian habitat (see below).


ROUGH TERRAIN AND RIVER ACCESS

An example of how terrain characteristics and knowledge of the landscape can be used to identify locations mentioned in Castaño's journal is
provided as Castaño turned north from the Rio Grande to follow the Pecos River. (Of course, the first inference here is that the Pecos is the river
being followed because it was not name "Pecos" during his time.) Diverging from the Rio Grande, Castaño notes the difficulty of finding a way
down to the Pecos River margin owing to the steep cliffs and rocky terrain. They used up 25 dozen horseshoes owing to the roughness of the
rocky terrain and their inability to find a suitable route to the river (see Schroeder and Matson, page 49). Because of this most scholars agree that
Castaño did not encounter the Pecos, per se, until the area around Sheffield, Texas, or, I think, perhaps further south toward Pandale.
Downstream of this the river is deeply entrenched with steep canyon walls that would have prevented access. A drive along Interstate 10 and
Highway 90 in areas that transect the Pecos River, reveals rather clearly the difficultly faced by the explorers and the limited range of options
south of the Sheffield/Pandale area.

Using this factual geographic information it is reasonable to suggest that the first access to the Pecos River begins at about this point. It is
important to find this camp site, which is likely on private land, because subsequent days' travel can be inferred from this general locality owing
to the high probablity that this line of reasoning is accurate. Pinpointing the actual camp site at this initial Pecos River camp site would provide a
more precise anchor for projections of subsequent days of travel, but knowledge of this general area is sufficient to begin.
GASPAR CASTAÑO DE SOSA'S TRAIL THROUGH THE CARLSBAD DISTRICT
THE MATERIAL ON THIS PAGE IS COPYRIGHTED AND SHOULD BE APPROPRIATELY CITED (C) 2007-2008, Deni Seymour
Relevant links on this topic:
TRAILS PAGE
Aerial showing where the Pecos
River joins the Rio Grande
One of the most diagnostic indicators of their route is thought to be
Willow Lake where Castaño saw dense trees and went to investigate.
Castaño went "alone to see a grove visible from where we had
camped. The grove was on the west side, two leagues from the
campsite." Nov 28, 1590.

The problem with this interpretation is that, according the Harvey
Hicks, Willow Lake was a historical construction made by diverting
water from the Pecos River and from Black Canyon. Consequently
this lake would not have been present at the time. Queen lake, now
a playa that holds water seasonally, and Mexican and Horseshoe
lakes to the west that are perennial, would have been present in the
1500s and Willow might have been a spring (fed by the two lakes to
the west).

One important task will be to discern from where along the east side
of the river the trees of this west-side feature can be seen. on a clear
day from high and low locations.
One consideration is that the "big bend to the west" is not one of these four but is the one that occurs just north of Carlsbad (See
figure below). If this is the case, Castaño was much further north much faster. If our ground truthing does not bear results, we will
follow this possiblity. (See updates at a later time.)
This is the fourth option for the big bend,
and the only one that works when applying
all of the other subsequent, up-river
observations. This is Red Bluff Reservoir.
These are three of only four options for the big westward bend south of Carlsbad. None of these three can be the bend when
subsequent up-river observations are followed out--assuming assumptions paired with those observations are correct as well.


ENCOUNTERING A SPRING

Two days later the entry indicates:

6. WE RECROSSED THE RIVER, NOV 26
7. THE PEOPLE SLEPT ON THE BANK OF THE RIVER, NOV 26, EVENING
8. ABOUT THE MIDDLE OF THE STRETCH, A SPRING OF WATER WAS FOUND, NOV 26

Another consideration is that not all the springs will be active today that were in the past owing to changes in ground water and also later
disturbance--a factor also mentioned by Hammond and Rey. It is important to reconstruct potential historical distributions of seeps and springs.

Moreover, it is important to note when an observation is contradictory to the on-the-ground evidence versus when such evidence is simply
absent or not available. For example, the absence of a known spring in a certain location would not necessarily eliminate a route or camping
place, especially if there has been considerable disturbance or if the area had not been investigated for springs and seeps.

Springs are known to have exisited in the area around the modern salt lakes, but have now been subsumed by the lakes.




SUMMARY OF DESCRIBED TERRAIN CHARACTERISTICS

Basic terrain characteristics to calibrate to aerials for first level analysis:

Attribute 1: Big bend of the river to the west at or near the end of a sierra/mountain.
Attribute 2: Spring on the east side of the river
Attribute 3: Grove on the west side of and two leagues from the Pecos
Attribute 4: River with running water coming into the Pecos from the west that originates in the mountains

If we look and do not find the route it does not mean it was not there, only that we could not find it owing to our incomplete or
ineffective search techniques or the the fact that it might have been destroyed. Many people think that some of his camps are under
the major reservoirs. Given that these were some of the prime riparian habitats this would not be surprising. I have always wondered
if one of the historic sites recorded by the Katzes that is now under Brantley was a Castaño camp. Therefore, if evidence of campsites
is found we may argue for the identification of key points along the route but not finding evidence does not negate the presence of
the route.

Then there is the issue that any camp found could be that of the many scouts sent out to find water and to survey the landscape as to
best route. Camps could also be Morlete's but nonetheless, finding a period-specific camp would be a major improvement over the
current state of knowledge.




The Process: Ground Truthing
Once one or more possible routes or camp sites are isolated it is time to ground check these locations, looking for archaeological
evidence from this time period. Evidence may occur in the form of period-specific artifacts (usually iron artifacts or glass beads),
chronometric dates for fire pits, and unusual site structure or feature types that might indicate the presence of a different group of
people.


TO BE CONTINUED...
GROVE VISIBLE FROM AND TWO LEAGUES FROM THE PECOS

The next set of geographic indicators includes:

9. WE SET OUT FROM THIS PLACE AND WENT UP-RIVER THROUGH A VERY GOOD SAVANNA. NOV 27
10. WE WENT TO THE BANK OF THE RIVER TO SLEEP WHERE THERE WERE MANY REEDS, WHICH LOOKED LIKE THOSE OF A SWAMP BUT
WERE DRY. NOV 27
11. THE RIVER MADE A TURN TO THE NORTHEAST. WE CONTINUED ALONG IT THROUGH VERY GOOD SAVANNAS. NOV 28
12. THE LT WENT OFF ALONE TO SEE A GROVE VISIBLE FROM WHERE WE HAD CAMPED. THE GROVE WAS ON THE WEST SIDE, TWO
LEAGUES FROM THE CAMPSITE. WILLOWS NOV 28
13. WE SLEPT THIS NIGHT ON THE SAND DUNES ON THE BANK OF THE RIVER. NOV 28


BENDS TO THE WEST

Another example of how this process works likely relates to the Carlsbad area of southeastern New Mexico. On November 23, 1590 Castaño
notes: "we set out from this place where the river made a big bend to the west"..."we went to sleep at the point where the mountain ended at
the bank of the river on a very good savanna." These passages indicate that we must search for a location where a noticable bend to the west
occurs and which is followed by a point where mountains (not hills) ended at the river's edge. Although Hammond and Rey, page 261,
translate this as: "We stopped for the night on level ground extending to the bank of the river, where the sierra [mountains] came to an end."
These very different translations have substantial consequences for truing this information to on-the-ground locations.

In the figures below all of the existing examples of a "big bend to the west" south of Carlsbad are shown on the aerials. One assumption is that
the river has not substantially changed with respect to these attributes. This is not necessarily defensible but an assumption that must be
followed, at least initially, to allow inquiry. One reason to suggest that this assumption might be defensible is that usually a significant turn is
prompted by a topographic feature, such as a mountain, which would indicate that the same topographic feature would have a similar effect
on the river through time. There is a high probability that the Pecos was a faster running river in the 1500s, before it was dammed, and
therefore may have run a straighter course throughout much of its length, except where topogrpahic obstructions caused it to turn.

Using this approach it is possible to see that there are only four possibilities for this turn. Thus, each of these segments can be checked against
the record for the next descriptive observation. This is done until westward-turn-candidates are eliminated because they do not match one or
more of the next descriptive observations.

1. WE SET OUT FROM THIS PLACE WHERE THE RIVER MADE A BIG BEND TO THE WEST, NOV 23
2. SLEPT AT THE POINT WHERE MOUNTAIN ENDED AT THE BANK OF THE RIVER, NOV 23
3. WE SET OUT FROM THIS PLACE… THE RIVER HERE MADE ANOTHER TURN TO THE NORTHEAST. NOV 24

It is important to consider that translation of Castaño's descriptions might be in error too, so multiple possible interpretations must be
considered (as indicated above). For example, what does a "big turn" mean and when does a turn become big? What would he consider a
large ranchería? Moreover, the expedition traveled away from the river much of the time because they had carts and needed to avoid the
uneven land surface near the river. Thus it is likely that some key turns and relevant topographic features were not observed. As a result, there
may be many turns to the west but only the one he saw or that interupted travel trajectory may be mentioned.
FLOWING RIVER COMING FROM THE MOUNTAINS WEST OF THE PECOS


21. WE SET OUT FROM THIS PLACE, PASSING THROUGH SOME REED GRASS, DEC 1
22. AT ABOUT HALF A LEAGUE WAS FOUND A RIVER THAT APPARENTLY WAS COMING FROM A MOUNTAIN ON THE WEST SIDE. WE COULD
NOT CROSS BECAUSE IT WAS SO DEEP. THE RIVER WE COULD NOT CROSS ENTERED THIS ONE.
23. AND SO WE TURNED BACK TOWARDS THE EAST TO CROSS THE RIVER [PECOS] WE HAD BEEN FOLLOWING.


On the other hand, because the record says that there was a major river coming from the mountains that was too deep to cross, it is a
relatively straightforward task to suggest the few arroyos that routinely carry water.

This narrows the possibilities and so this characteristic (key river entering the Pecos from the west) is elevated in importance with respect to
route suggestions. Consequently, the first factor to consider is that there is a big bend, and a second factor is that there are only three possible
rivers in the Carlsbad District: Black Canyon, Dark Canyon, and Rocky Arroyo. Of course this interpretation depends upon the assumption that
the expedition was still south of Seven Rivers when this is mentioned, or other key rivers occuring to the north qualify. Along the southern
end of the Pecos in New Mexico there are eight rivers that would have carried sufficient water on a perennial basis to qualify: Delaware,
Black, Dark Canyon, Rocky Arroyo, three branches of Seven Rivers, Fourmile Draw, Rio Penasco, and Cottonwood Creek.
Three text passages are relevant to this location:

1. WE SET OUT FROM THIS PLACE WHERE THE RIVER MADE A BIG BEND TO THE WEST, NOV 23
2. SLEPT AT THE POINT WHERE MOUNTAIN ENDED AT THE BANK OF THE RIVER, NOV 23
3. WE SET OUT FROM THIS PLACE… THE RIVER HERE MADE ANOTHER TURN TO THE NORTHEAST. NOV 24
4. WE CROSSED IT [PECOS]

When these are considered and matched to aerials this fourth option for the "bend to the west" continues to fit. The following
image shows this correspondence between the documentary record and geographic characteristics.
The next geographic referent is more vague but at least places them near a small river, that from the description, must be
on the west side of the Pecos. The dates indicate that they may have camped here for two days.

5. WENT TO SLEEP BY A SMALL RIVER. NOV 24 EVENING
Alternative route not considered at this time.
One of the main points of comparison is what is assumed by many, and especially Schroeder and Matson, to be Willow Lake.
Willow Lake is thought to be where Castaño saw dense trees and went to investigate. Castaño went "alone to see a grove visible
from where we had camped. The grove was on the west side, two leagues from the campsite." Nov 28, 1590. If this identification is
accepted, bends and rivers must be calibrated to this natural feature as well.
A PLAIN IN A LITTLE TEAT

14. WE WENT UP-RIVER THROUGH SOME VERY GOOD SAVANNAS.
15. WE FOUND A CREEK THAT SEEMED TO BE COMING FROM A MOUNTAIN ON THE WEST SIDE. NOV 29
16. AND WE CROSSED IT [PECOS]. NOV 29
17. AFTER CROSSING IT, AND WHILE TRAVELING THROUGH SOME VERY GOOD SAVANNAS. A SPRING WAS FOUND IN THE MIDDLE OF A
PLAIN IN A LITTLE TEAT. NOV 29
18. WE WENT TO SLEEP IN A VERY BIG GROVE. NOV 29

The plain with the little teat is thought to be Carlsbad or perhaps an area under Brantley Reservoir, afterall, Carlsbad was named as such
because of its springs. Paul Evans, acording the George McDonnel, observed such a spring feature in an area that is now under Brantley.
This is where we see the first real discrepancy that may indicate this is not the portion of the river being referenced:

19. WE WENT THROUGH SOME VERY GOOD SAVANNAS. NOV 30
20. THE RIVER MADE A BIG BEND TO THE EAST AND WAS DEEP. (NOV 30, 1590)

Here the river does not really bend to the east but instead to the northeast, although it is possible that the river course has
changed through time.
One passage suggests that they were at 32 degrees north latitude:

24. IT SEEMED TO HIM THAT THERE MUST BE TOWNS VERY NEAR THIS LATITUDE, WHICH HE HAD ORDERED TAKEN.

Although the specific latitude is not indicated his suggestion that they expected settlements is consistent with the latitude at
which other explorers had found the first inhabitants.

32 DEGREES NORTH LATITUDE IS THE LATITUDE AT WHICH FRAY MARCOS DE NIZA ENCOUNTERED VILLAGES NORTH OF
THE DESPOBLADO IN SOUTHERN ARIZONA


CHAMUSCADO-RODRIGUEZ, 1581 ENCOUNTERED PEOPLE AT 29 DEGREES AND THEN AGAIN


ESPEJO, 1582 ENCOUTNERED THE FIRST VILLAGES AT 29 DEGREES AND THEN AGAIN AT 33 DEGREES NORTH LATITUDE

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE POSSIBLITIES
more to come
CROSSINGS
According to Harvey Hicks, because the Pecos was narrow, deep, and swift before it was dammed there are only six crossings.
These would have been at Emmigrant's Canyon, Horsehead (a known Commanche crossing), Pope's Well (a later historic addition,
1850s). Loving Bend, Carlsbad, Major Johnson's Spring (Seven Rivers).
SALT SPRINGS
According to local Harvey Hicks, the first instance of salt springs from the south are found just above the Loving Crossing. Observation of
these could be either the salt or the treat noted in the text.
QUEEN
WILLLOW
MEXICAN AND
HORSEHOE