Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgments A History of Questa From Our Hearts and Minds Los Pobladores de Questa/The Founders of Questa—J.P. RaelDon Diego Vigil—J.P. RaelFloyd Hamblen, the Boy That Grew Up in Questa—J.P. RaelA New Frontier—Tessie Rael de Ortega From the Record—Judith Cuddihy An Introductory NoteAncient Geological Events Formed Our LandscapeBefore the Spanish Entrada—Evidence of Clovis, Folsom, and Oshara/Upper […]


Historia, Cultura y Vida en Questa Tessie Rael de Ortega and Judith Cuddihy Dedication To J.P. Rael An Introductory Note The following account of the history of the Questa area is drawn from the historical record. Where possible, first-person accounts of Rio Colorado have been included to give a first-hand view of what life was […]


In my days, or shall I say when I was your age, we didn’t have trick or treats. We had “Mis Crismes.” On Christmas you would go from house to house and say “Mis Crismes.” You would get biscochitos, candy, and peanuts. On New Year’s Eve a group of men and young boys would go […]

Customs for betrothal and marriage

The “Alwasiles” sheriffs were very strict. If they found a girl or a boy talking to each other out in public they would take them to their parents. Sometimes they would make them get married. When young people wanted to get married, the grooms’s oldest uncle and his wife would go in the early evening […]


When a baby was taken to be baptized, the Padrinos of the baby would say to the parents of the baby after they came back from Church: Reciban esta prenda amada, Que de la iglesia salio Con los santos sacramentos Y el agua que recibio The parents of the baby would say: Recibemos esta prenda […]

Our Church of San Antonio

San Antonio church is the biggest treasure our forefathers left for us. It was built with a lot of faith and sacrifice. They brought the Catholic Faith with them from Spain. The church is made from big adobes. Not long after the settlers arrived, according to the information passed on from father to son, the […]

Los Hermanos, La Morada y el Calvario

Every year during Lent and Holy Week, newspapers and magazines all over the country contain an article of one kind or another about Los Hermanos (Brotherhood of Penitentes), moradas (Los Hermanos’ house of worship), or el Calvario (the Cross and crucifixion). Some of these writers are fairly well informed, courteous, and friendly. Others are less […]

El Oratorio de Doña Estefana

There on the outskirts of the village of Questa, by the side of Cabresto Creek just south of Highway 38, under a cluster of old cottonwood trees stood the old Oratorio, now unkept and abandoned but still a monument of history and Spanish culture. Don Juan Benito Valdez and his wife Doña Estefana built this […]

The Cycle of Birth, Life, and Death

Settlers on the frontiers of New Spain and later the New Mexico Territory were important in spreading the geographical influence of the Catholic Church. These settlers named their settlements for popular saints. For Questa, this was St. Anthony, known for his many miracles as well as for finding lost things. Because the Franciscans had left […]

The 20th Century Comes to Questa

Our story now becomes less detailed. The end of the Indian raids and of the gold rush changed life in Questa to a more cyclical everday existence of farming, livestock raising, work at the moly mine, churchgoing—the cycle of birth, life, and death. Much of this life is within memories of the older residents of […]

New Mining in and around Questa

Mining would play an increasing role in the life and economy of Rio Colorado/Questa. The first Rio Colorado connection with the copper and gold rush in the Moreno Valley was William Kronig, who had lived and did business in Rio Colorado in the 1850s. A few Indians had brought colored rocks to Kronig and Captain […]

Petitions to Validate the Cañon del Rio Colorado Land Grant

As with many of these early private land claims, the U.S. Land office was hesitant to confirm the grants because of the vague wording of the grants. Because the Spanish thought land was not valuable, their land grants were made in large quantities and natural objects and landmarks, which disappeared over time, were provided as […]