They used to say the valley was haunted. Ghosts edge the pasture and she could see them, dark shapes against the ditch bank and smokey shadows along the fence line. Even before she heard the other stories about floods and sieges she knew. That ride up the arroyo before it was concrete when her horse spooked and jumped sideways and dumped her hard and unconscious. She woke up talking nonsense. Her sister said she always talked nonsense but she was just being mean.
How do you know your ghosts aren’t just poor mental health?
The flood killed people and destroyed villages but no one is alive that remembered that. They put a statue in the park of two people saving the church bell. No one was saved by the bell. No one is alive that remembered where the church was either. So when they put in the sewer line they started finding bones everywhere and everyone seemed surprised. The church is under a convenience store now.
Even monumental events don't get statues or monuments if it isn't good history that fits and doesn't make anyone squirm. Like there'll probably never be a monument to Alonzo McMillan - the lawyer who took tens of thousands of acres of the village’s communal lands. He initiated court action for "partition" of the old Spanish land grant and ended up very rich. The City of Rio Rancho is on part of that old land grant now.
The earliest recorded horror - also largely forgotten - was the “war” between the Spanish explorer Coronado and the Pueblo people of this valley. Scars of siege and massacre shape our ghosts whether we remember to see them or not. Memories fade but great wrongs are retained like an invisible lingering clinging electric charge. Sad static. Here a dead man found tangled and frozen in the fence. There a boy pulled under sudden swirling arroyo water.