Father Troy borrowed some chains from my uncle, my mother's brother, to go get rocks for the foundation of the church, rocks from a place they called La Piedra del Rayo, beyond Edith. He dug those rocks with a team of horses.
(From Shining River Precious Land, An Oral History of Albuquerque's North Valley, Kathryn Sergeant and Mary Davis, 1986.)
The old road to Juan Tabo Canyon from this valley isn't a road anymore. But you can still see it on the aerial from 1963 and google maps, a road scar running east-northeast from the valley through the old Coronado airport, also gone now. Like a lot of old features in the landscape of growing cities, the road became obsolete, largely forgotten and is nearly or completely lost.
It was the direct route between places barely known to us today and used for purposes now deemed unnecessary - like hunting, herding cows and sheep and hauling wood and rocks. It makes a bee-line from the early Spanish village and even earlier Tiguex pueblo at Alameda to the closest canyon in the Sandias.
The villagers in Alameda lost their adobe church, and everything else, in a flood in 1904. In 1907 the community began construction of a new church under the direction of Father Troy. To assure that this one would never melt in a flood, it was built of stone - huge granite boulders and sandstone rocks from the Sandia Mountains. Parishioners pulled wagons and dragged giant boulders in chains behind teams of horses between 1907 and 1911 when main construction was undertaken. This explains the deep scars that make the road bed still visible today.
The church, Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary, was consecrated in 1913 making this is the 100th anniversary of the "new" church. It will be celebrated. The road won't. The road has been eclipsed, truncated and duplicated in name. "Alameda Boulevard" slices across the valley carrying commuter and truck traffic across the Rio Grande to and from Albuquerque's sprawling westside and Interstate 25.
But you can still see a little bit of the road in the valley for a short stretch between Fourth Street and Edith Boulevard - an unremarkable segment except for the view to the east. Where once a mental institution dominated the mesa, now the Balloon Fiesta Park and Museum command the mesa and the view.
(Photo from Nativity Church)