Our Huff Wagon Train Diary
Saturday, January 8, 2005

Tower Camp to Cornudas del Alamo, New Mexico

Excerpt from Huff's Diary, July 10, 1849: Ojo del Alamo or Cottonwood Spring is a watering place on the left hand or south side of the road, as you journey towards El Paso. The spring or well is about five hundred yards up the mountain under three cottonwood trees. The path leading to the spring is winding, and the rough broken clocks of granite rends the approach to the spring slow and difficult. The water is scarce and slightly impregnated with sulphur.
On the left as you ascend the mountain about half way to the spring there are various glyphs or figures punched or pricked in the sides of the the huge blocks of granite evidently the work of a race of people having some pretensions to the art of imitation and representation. One of the figures represented a chief standing in that position or attitude whether he would have to assume in order to exercise his strength and skill with a full bent bow, the death-dealing arrow drawn nearly to its head, bow and arrow in hand as if letting loose the swift winged messenger of death around the chief except in front are warriors with drawn bows and charged with arrows also. Different kinds of animals and birds are in the background. Bows, arrows, lances and characters conveying some allegory or tradition are together, on one face of the smooth granite and immediately opposite, the same figures characters and representation apparently executed by the same hand are also punched in the face of the smooth granite with the addition of the figure or shape of a well-formed canoe. The whole work was intended to commemorate some great battle and victory over the Mexicans or some other mortal enemy. The figures, pictures and representations were well-delineated and had all the appearance of time worn and time tried ages of storm and weather.

From Aidee, Angel, Brandy, Melva, Savanna

In the morning we had a rude awakening -- some of the girls were talking loudly. It would have been okay except that some of us stayed up really late talking and getting to know each other.

After breakfast we started to take care of the horses and mules. First we fed them alfalfa. We had to bring in new alfalfa because we're now in New Mexico and we can't take hay from one state to another. John Diedrich, Doug, Ray and some of the other wagon masters showed us how to fix up the mules for the wagons. We had to put the collars, bits and reins on them to get them ready to pull the wagons.

Today's wagon ride was eleven miles -- some bumpy and some smooth. If you are in the driver's seat, it's smoother. Some of us, like Aidee, Angel, and Melva got to drive today. There were cactus and mesquite, yucca and cattle along the way. It was like being in the middle of nowhere because there was no civilization as far as the eye could see. We saw a calf standing by itself alongside the road. Arthur was on horseback and herded it toward its mother. Steve and Horace then herded the rest of the cattle away from our wagon train.

We saw the Alamo Mountain (Ojo del Alamo) from far away. We arrived just in time for lunch. Mr. Coate read to us what Huff saw when he hiked up the mountain. Our assignment was to draw pictures and find the Cottonwood Spring. The hike was rocky. There were a lot of cactus and thorns along the trail. There were a many, many carvings, called Petroglyphs in the rocks. We saw pictures of buffalo, a bull, people, and something that looked like either a butterfly or a frog. Someone saw a snake image showing us where the Cottonwood Springs were. There were a lot of snake petroglyphs. It was exciting and we drew the petroglyphs in our journal. We looked for the cottonwood trees. We found three dead trees marking where the springs were. We found the springs. It was just damp, but it was greener than the other part of the mountain.

As one can see, we had another clue about authenticating the diary of William P. Huff!

At dinner we had buffalo fajitas. It tasted good. We had a long day and we're looking forward to going to bed tonight.

Aidee: I feel sad that people had to eat buffalo -- so I ate everything except the buffalo.

Angel: Everything was cool today until I fell on a cactus! But I'm okay!

Brandy: I liked the hike. It was cool. Dinner was good, too. There was a beautiful sunset and I took a picture of it.

Melva: It was weird waking up with new faces in the tent. I felt bad about eating the buffalo but it was good.

Savanna: The wagon ride was bumpier to me today than the other days! It was probably bumpier for the pioneers.

The following is a photo gallery from the trip. If you have questions, please contact us at education@tpwd.state.tx.us


This educational project is a partnership venture of Madera Unified School District, Madera, California; the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; the Texas Historical Commission; and the many generous and gracious communities along the route.

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