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Paraje del Perrillo
On May 23, 1598 the Oñate expedition traveled about four leagues, doing poorly because of the lack of water. They were traveling five or six leagues east of the Río Grande. After one of their dogs returned with muddy paws, they searched for some water holes. Captain Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá and Cristóbal Sánchez each found one, not far away in the direction of the river (Pacheco, Cárdenas y Torres 1871:XVI, 247-248).
In 1680, Otermín mentioned stops at El Perrillo but gave no descriptions or details of distances traveled (Hackett and Shelby 1942:II, 202;II, 365). On the evening of 27 August 1692, Vargas stopped at El Perrillo, but gave no distance from San Diego or Las Peñuelas (Kessell and Hendricks 1992:371). Rivera left San Diego on 25 May 1726 and traveled north-northwest through flat land, passing the Cerros de Perrillo to the east after six leagues (Alessio Robles 1946:49).
On 9 August 1766, Lafora referred to a campsite and to a nearby mountain range as simply “Perrillo.” After traveling ten leagues from Robledillo, he camped near pools of rainwater identifing the mountains to the east as the Organ range and to the west as the Sierras del Perrillo and del Muerto. He described the Río Grande as running through a canyon beyond the mountains to the west (Alessio Robles 1939:92).
Wislizenus called this spring “Barilla” (likely a corruption of Perrillo which Gibson below calls “Perrilla”) when his party stopped there on 3 August 1846. They had been at a spring to the north, probably El Alemán, which they found dry and then had pushed on 20 miles until they found sufficient amounts of stagnant water to provide for their stock there. Wislizenus observed that spurs from the mountains to the east approached the area and that the soil was more solid than it had been to the north (Wislizenus 1848:39).
Gibson gave the name “perilla” to “an isolated mountain in the valley, which here expands, giving the appearance of two valleys.” He also observed that the road veered to the right at this point and was not as flat as it had been. He made it ten miles from El Alemán and ten from San Diego (Bieber 1935:296-297). The Baptist missionary Hiram Read wrote that the “Ponds of Perillo,” which he translated as “Ponds of Peril,” were three miles south of the Point of Rocks and 22 miles from Robledo (Bloom 1942:136).
The spur, hills, or mountains mentioned by the chronicles conform to the Point of Rocks formation. Oñate reported that the pools (aguajes) found by Villagrá and Cristóbal Sánchez were toward the river. Upside Down Tank and Alivio are both to the west of, or toward the river from, the Point of Rocks formation. The road and rail line veer to the right, à la Gibson’s description of the road, a little further north at Upham; however, the places mentioned are more likely matches for their nearness to the Point of Rocks and distance from Alemán and San Diego. Read seems to have been at Rincon Arroyo, on which maps show a small pond at about the right place. Point of Rocks Tank, south of Point of Rocks, is also a possibility.