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Historia, Cultura y Vida en Questa

Tessie Rael de Ortega and Judith Cuddihy

View of Questa from Cienega. (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USF34-034261-D, Russell Lee.)


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 like here over the years. Many of the early accounts were written by outsiders, especially French trappers and American and European travelers and explorers. Often their accounts reflect the ethnic stereotypes of their time, which must be borne in mind when reading these descriptions. The total result is “history” from many viewpoints and at many levels—the kaleidoscope of history even at this small scale using the most reliable evidence and as straightforwardly as possible, within the limits of the material available.  Names are used as appropriate to historical period being discussed. Names for Questa include Rio Colorado, Plaza de Rio Colorado, San Antonio del Rio Colorado, and Questa. The Red River, Rio Colorado, was also known as the Little Red River. In this text the Rio Colorado in other contexts, for there were several western rivers so named, will be explained and denoted as such.

Zebulon Pike’s 1810 map of New Spain showing the Rio Colorado of Questa and his route to Santa Fe (from Pike, Zebulon Montgomery. An account of expeditions to the sources of the Mississippi, and through the western parts of Louisiana of the Arkansaw, Kansas, La Platte, and Pierre Jaun rivers: performed by the order of the government of the United States during the years 1805, 1806, and 1807. And a tour through the interior parts of New Spain, when conducted through these provinces, by the order of the captain-general, in the year 1807.
C. & A. Conrad & Co., Philadelphia, 1810)