Our Huff Wagon Train Diary
Sunday, January 9, 2005

Cornudas del Alamo, New Mexico

Excerpt from Huff's Diary, Monday, July 9, 1849: We made a daylight start and after traveling sixteen miles reached and halted at "Cornudas del Alamo" and which also goes by the name of Thorn's well from the fact of a gentleman of that name having to dig a well in a cave in order to procure water. The well is about four or five feet deep and although the water has a slight muddy tinge, it is cool and palatable....It is indeed a cool and pleasant retreat for the thirsty and weary traveler. In the bottom of the rent or cave the well is found an abundance of water after passing through small pebbles or gravel. In ascending the mountain to get a view of the surrounding country, climbing over wall after wall of solid granite, I entered a huge crevice which seemed to open a way by which I could reach the top of a perpendicular wall which was so high that it would take some time to go around it. The huge blocks of granite lay scattered and pressing against each other in every conceivable manner, forming an archway over my head underneath which I kept winding and groping my way thinking that I would find an outlet or going out place which would take me to the top of the mountain. I was soon agreeably disappointed by finding myself in a large cave in which were two pools of pure cool water as ever slaked the thirst of man.

Excerpts from three students' journals:

From Ali

As I arose from my sleeping bag early on the morning of the ninth, I realized that I really was following the footsteps of William P. Huff. I packed my bag and loaded it onto the trailer. I had no realization of the journey ahead. We crossed through the Cornudas del Alamo mountain range, taking about 13.5 miles on wagons. As we rode along the bumpy trail, to our surprise we saw wild horses and free-range cows displaying their significance. We have passed many acres and many miles of land only to appear to the concealed eye as Thorn's Well. We passed the rent appearing to be roughest at 6 feet tall and wide about 5 feet as the passage opens. In the diary depiction described by Mr Coate, it seems that what my eyes have seen today is the very well described in Huff's diary. In the middle of the cave is the well surrounded by bricks with slates of wood over the top, most likely not at the well during Huff's time. Ancient Indian pictographs described great imagination and insight into the world from many of today's people. The well depicted in Huff's diary is almost exactly as I have seen. After seeing this well described in Huff's diary I truly and honestly realize that Huff's diary is real, even though there never was a doubt in my mind. Although there is a while before I am finished with the journey, I will prove the William P. Huff case to some scholars who yet not believe it's real.

From Mike

With Cottonwood Springs left behind we pulled towards our new camp, Thorn's Well. The trail was quite bumpy despite the new seat I had acquired. We were asked to draw what we saw because of the absence of our photographer, so we stopped for lunch. I assigned Flat Top Mountain to myself to draw. Mountains aren't my specialty, but I did the best I could. Our wagon train continued on down the trail. When we stopped at camp, our troop rested for a few minutes and then set off for Thorn's Well only a few yards away. Mr. Coate read from the diary and reminded us that we were in William P. Huff's footsteps before we entered the cave. Everything in the cave was as described in the Huff diary. The arrow-shaped rock, the moist ground, the well, and the Indian drawings that all appeared in the cave were also described very well in the diary. We were also assigned a portion of the cave to draw and when we exited the cave we enjoyed freshly baked cookies to rejoice from our successful mission.

From Jacob

We left Cottonwood Springs today. The wagon ride was long and bumpy (I mean bumpy as in incredibly bumpy). Sat on the end with Fredy and Ty. Ended up at Thorn's Well (Cornudas del Alamo). From the outside it looks like an extraordinary rock formation of gray and sand-colored rock with blotches of brown or black here or there on the rock face. With a little imagination you can see faces and shapes of living things in the rocks. Trees surround the rent you use to enter and leaves blanket the ground. The rent is around 6 feet tall (very rough estimate). The rent is about 7 or 8 feet long (again a rough estimate). In site is an oval of rocks piled one against another and overhead a huge rock looms "shaped like an Indian arrowhead" as described by Huff. In the center is Thorn's Well. A recent cement and rock circle is around it and on top of this circle is a series of wooden slats, concealing everything underneath it (most likely not there in Huff's time). Various Indian depictions can be found painted all over the walls. Mr. Coate read us a portion of the diary concerning Thorn's Well which describes Thorn's Well with accuracy (and also startlingly resembles the description above). Hope dinner is good.


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

Student Drawings

Jacob Mikaela William Ali Ali Aidee

photos


Credits

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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