Historical dendroarchaeology of two log structures in the Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico, USA

Kristen K. de Graauw, Ronald H. Towner, Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, Nicholas V. Kessler, Jonathan Knighton-Wisor, Anastasia Steffen, James P. Doerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We used dendroarchaeological techniques to determine the year of construction of two historic structures in the Valles Caldera National Preserve of New Mexico, USA Historical documents date some structures in the headquarters area of the Preserve, but the Commissary Cabin and Salt Barn were lacking conclusive construction dates Both structures were originally thought to have been built by the Otero family who bought the property in 1899 We found that the structures were built from two tree species, white fir (Abies concolor (Gordon) Lindl ex Hildebr.) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco), surprising given that ponderosa pines are also found in great numbers in the adjacent forest Tree rings from 20 logs were confidently crossdated both graphically and statistically and provided cutting dates of trees in both structures of 1940 and 1941 when compared against the Fenton Lake reference chronology (Commissary Cabin: r= 0.69, t= 15.54, p< 0.0001, n= 263 years; Salt Barn: r= 0.77, t= 11.7, p< 0.0001, n= 232 years) By combining the cutting date years and terminal ring attributes, we suggest that both structures were built in the spring or early summer of 1941 using freshly cut logs and logs that had been cut the previous spring (1940, before or during the growing season) and stockpiled The cutting dates of 1940 and 1941 indicate that these buildings were constructed during the Franklin Bond (1939-1945) era and associated with the transition from sheep ranching to more modern cattle grazing These new dates provide a more distinct understanding of the cultural resources at the Valles Caldera National Preserve and provide interpretative staff with more accurate information that can be given to the public

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-342
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Baca Ranch
  • Douglas-fir
  • Historical dendroarchaeology
  • New Mexico
  • Partido system
  • White fir

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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