The Homestead Act of 1862
The Homestead Act offered 160 acres to anyone willing to build a house, dig a well, fence the land, farm at least 10 acres and live there for five years. Then, for a filing fee of $18, they were given title. Because of the rugged terrain and harsh conditions in the Upper Largo Canyon area, few of the primeros pobladores (first settlers) claimed title. Prior to New Mexico statehood, there were only seven homestead patents issued in this area. After statehood and up until the 1940s, an additional 42 homestead patents were issued. The majority of homesteads were Hispanic settlers.
Historians and archaeologists are conducting historical and archaeological surveys in Upper Largo Canyon to better document the remains and history of the area. Once these studies are complete, the Bureau of Land Management intends to nominate several of the homesteads for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Margarita Martinez Homestead
The Margarita Martinez Homestead consists of a four-room sandstone house, a large corral, and an irrigation canal located in Tafoya Canyon. The homestead was constructed between 1908 and 1922. Margarita Martinez was originally from the Corrales area where she lived with her husband, Juan. After Juan’s death, she moved to Largo Canyon in 1904 with her children. Margarita passed away in 1919 following a wagon accident, and management of the homestead passed to other family members. Although patents were filed on the homestead in 1935, the home remained on public lands presumably due to an error in writing the legal description in the filing of the patent.
Martin Apodaca Homestead
The Martin Apodaca Homestead, located at the head of a small canyon once known as Pollito (Little Chicken) Canyon, consists of three buildings and a corral built between 1907 - 1918. This land was later acquired by the Berry Cattle Company. The historical record suggests the homestead was abandoned sometime prior to 1930.
Most remarkable is that one of the buildings was used as a church. Locally known as Nuestra Señora de la Buena Pastora (Our Lady of the Good Shepherd) appears in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe records from 1915 at the Church of the Divine Pastor in Haynes, New Mexico. Nuestra Señora was served by the parish in Farmington and visited “every couple of months” by Padre Alberto.
Nestor Martin Homestead, a.k.a. Old Rock Ranch
The Nestor Martin Homestead is one of the oldest homesteads in Upper Largo Canyon. The homestead is one of the few shown on the 1882 General Land Office survey map of the area. The homestead is shown on the current USGS topographic map of the area as the "Old Rock Ranch," just northeast of the mouth of Rockhouse Canyon. Although located along the main thoroughfare through Largo Canyon, very little is known about the site.
Hiking, historic interpretation.
None. Restrooms and drinking water are not available.
These directions originate from Counselors Trading Post on US 550, approximately one hour south of Farmington or one half hour north of Cuba, New Mexico.
On the east side of the Counselors Trading Post, proceed north on Rio Arriba County Road 379 8.4 miles to a major road intersection. Turn left (west) onto the main Largo Canyon road, towards the cell tower, and proceeded 2.3 miles to Tafoya Canyon (signed). Turn left (west) and proceeded .3 miles to the Margarita Martinez Homestead. The homestead is visible on the north side of the road.
From Tafoya Canyon proceed 1.2 miles north on the Largo Canyon road to a very visible group of large industrial tanks that are sometimes referred to as Tank City and/or Apache Junction. Turn right (east) and proceeded .2 miles. Turn right (south) and proceeded .6 miles and cross Largo Wash. After crossing Largo Wash take the first left turn (east) and proceeded .9 miles to a plugged and abandoned well location. Park and follow an old two-track road to the south along the base of the cliffs to the Martin Apodaca Homestead. It is about .7 miles to the homestead up a small unnamed canyon.
From the large group of industrial tanks proceed north .9 miles on the Largo Canyon road to the Nestor Martin Homestead. The homestead is located just east of the Largo Canyon road.
Note: An alternate route back to US 550 can be taken on Rio Arriba County Road 378 as it heads generally southwest from the large industrial tanks. Proceed 9.8 miles and you will arrive at US 550 on the east side of the Lybrook gas plant.