The Full Wiki

Salmon Ruins: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Salmon Ruin
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
The tower kiva at Salmon Ruins
Nearest city: Farmington, New Mexico
Added to NRHP: September 9, 1970
NRHP Reference#: 70000406

Salmon Ruins is a site in the far northwest of the American state of New Mexico hosting a Chacoan Anasazi great house built between approximately 1088 AD and 1100 AD. The complex contained around 150 ground-level rooms arranged into a D-shaped profile; up to 100 second-floor rooms are estimated to have sat atop them. The complex was remodeled before being abandoned in the late 13th century.[1] The pueblo is situated on the north bank of the San Juan River, just to the west of the town of Bloomfield, New Mexico, and about 45 miles (72 km) north of Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. The site is situated on an alluvial terrace above the river bottom.


Construction and occupation

Tree-ring dates indicate that the main structure was built in a span of seven years from AD 1088 to 1095. The plan of the Salmon great house is very similar to that of the nearby Aztec Ruins. The site was abandoned by the Chacoan builders around 1150 and later re-occupied by Northern San Juan Anasazi peoples from the Mesa Verde area.

A fire burned a large portion of the site in 1250. A large number of children and one woman were killed when the kiva roof on which they were standing collapsed, causing them to fall into the burning kiva. Another large fire in 1270 destroyed the great kiva and much of pueblo. The site was abandoned permanently at some time after this date.

Map of the Salmon Ruins after Morgan, 1994.


The walls of the Salmon great house are constructed of thin sandstone slabs in the Chaco Canyon style. The structure is generally rectangular in shape and is oriented with its long axis running northeast to southwest. The back, or north wall of the ruin is roughly 400 feet (120 m) long.

There are about 250 large rooms arranged into suites, perhaps as family dwelling units. Two room blocks extend southward from each end of the rear section, enclosing a large plaza. The plaza contains a great kiva similar to the one found at Aztec. There is also a "tower kiva", similar to the one at Chetro Ketl in Chaco, situated in the center of the main roomblock.

The rooms are roofed with large wooden beams and stringers (also known as vigas and latillas) in the style of most ancient and modern pueblo structures. The logs used as beams were cut from ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and other large trees that had to be transported to the site from approximately 50 miles (80 km) away. Dendrochronological samples taken from these beams indicate that the logs were cut between A.D. 1088 and 1093.

The great kiva measures about 50 feet (15 m) in diameter. The roof of the kiva was supported by four large columns built of alternating layers of stone and wood. There were other special function rooms in the site, including four milling rooms, and a room that may have served as a shop for making and repairing metates.

Preservation and interpretation

In the late 1800s, George Salmon and his family homesteaded the property. The Salmon homestead and outbuildings remain near the ruin, and have been preserved as part of Heritage Park. The Salmons, and later owner Charles Dustin provided protection for the site.

The non-profit corporation known as the San Juan County Museum Association acquired the 22-acre (89,000 m2) tract of land containing the ruins and the Salmon Family homestead in 1969. San Juan County made the final purchase of the property, and the Association operates the facility under a lease agreement.

The site was excavated in the 1970s under the direction of Dr. Cynthia Irwin-Williams.

The Salmon Ruins Museum, also located on the property, opened in 1973. The museum includes exhibits of artifacts found at the site, as well as rotating exhibits of regional interest topics. The museum, pueblo, and Salmon homestead are all open to the public.

The site was placed on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties and the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.


  1. ^ Fagan 2005, p. 208.


  • Fagan, B (2005), Chaco Canyon: Archaeologists Explore the Lives of an Ancient Society, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-517043-1.
  • Ferguson, William M. (1987), Anasazi Ruins of the Southwest in Color, University of New Mexico Press, ISBN 0-8263-0874-0.
  • Morgan, William N. (1994), Ancient Architecture of the Southwest, University of Texas Press, Austin, ISBN 0-292-75159-1.

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address