Tag Archives: purple glass

We Were Here (and She’s Still Here)

Zuni Mountains, the historical logging railroad route.

Impossible to drive it without imagining the hills as they were: clearcut, scalped naked. The subsequently-eroded red Abó dirt has young trees on it now, but here and there you can spot a patriarch the loggers missed or spared. Human presence of that era is all over: rusty cans, purple glass, busted cheap commercial china. A rusted shovel. Disintegrating ponderosa trunks, felled and abandoned, scattered like pick-up-sticks.

We climbed a red hill of Abó sandstone. En route, found a pair of (modern) safety goggles, an unopened can of Mexican beer, and a mother nighthawk so intent on distracting us from her nest that she rolled around with her feet in the air.


Besides its many miles, the best part of the hike was a lonely homestead perched on a rise in the sandstone. For the backcountry, where until the late 1860s Navajo raids made life unhealthy, this settlement was very early. Not even the shape of the house was left, just a heap of stones, but the trash—! Purple glass and thick white china reduced to confetti, buttons, shreds of wire, squashed Prince Albert tobacco cans and unrecognizable bits of rusty metal were scattered over acres.

It was support for my theory that early settlers, uneasy in the wilderness, liked to look at their civilized garbage.