September 17, 2020
by David Ryan
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Wandering Around the Salt Lakes of Pinos Wells

If you’ve ever flown into Albuquerque from the east, you may have noticed the dozens of salt lakes on the east side of the mountains. Or, you may have seen some of those salt lakes while driving east of Willard, New Mexico on U.S. Highway 60. You may even have pulled off the highway there to read the historical marker and actually checked out the salt lake down below.

If you look across US Highway 60, you’ll see another salt lake.

And if you wait long enough, you’re guaranteed to see a freight train on the BNSF southern transcon line.

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August 13, 2020
by David Ryan
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Wandering Around Galena’s Washington Street Steps

Topping out at 252 steps, the Washington Street Steps is Galena’s tallest stairway. It is also the same stairway that Ulysses S. Grant climbed (in its prior wooden form) to get from his family’s leather business in the heart of Galena up to his home at the top of the bluff high above downtown Galena.

During the 1840s and 1850s, Galena in the far northwest corner of Illinois was a prosperous lead mining center and the commercial hub for the upper Midwest. When the mines played out and its river port silted up, Galena declined in importance and became a much smaller community. With its smaller role, there was no pressure to tear down buildings and replace them with larger and more modern structures. As a result, Galena has the finest collection of 1840s and 1850s architecture in the country. And it is because of its unique architecture and gorgeous setting that Galena has become a popular visitor destination.

Galena’s Washington Street steps are in the distance.

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July 8, 2020
by David Ryan
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Wandering Around the World Famous “Mystery Stone” at Hidden Mountain, New Mexico

Hidden Mountain, the home of the world famous “mystery stone,” is a basalt covered uplift about 35 miles southwest of Albuquerque in the high desert grasslands west of Los Lunas, New Mexico. It is not very well hidden as it is readily visible from NM Highway 6 and is less than a mile from one of the busiest trans-continental rail lines (BNSF) in the country. Hiking at Hidden Mountain is featured in the 3rd edition of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Albuquerque (Hike 53). (More information on the 60 Hikes book is under the “60 Hikes” tab of this website.)

The world famous “mystery stone” is a nine-row inscription of ancient lettering carved into the face of a large basalt boulder near the base of the mountain. If you query Hidden Mountain, or Los Lunas Mystery Stone, or Decalogue Stone on the Internet you’ll find an amazing array of articles and YouTube videos with fantastic explanations on the meaning of the inscription.

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