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The 1765 settlement, San Jose de las Huertas, was in the lower Las Huertas Canyon. The settlers built a walled village, the remains of which lie undisturbed, and are one of the last examples, not built over, of a Spanish colonial village. In addition to their homes in the walled village, there were farm fields outside called "solares" (plots). They built an extensive irrigation system, some of which still exists. As time passed and the families grew, the amount of land under cultivation also grew. The Old Village of San Jose de las Huertas spilled over onto the mesa to the northwest where an acequia (irrigation ditch) was dug to the Llano de las Huertas. The source of water for this new system was the Las Huertas Creek and some springs above the Old Village known as Los Ojos de la Rosa Castilla. The land that was put into cultivation was terraced to provide level planting areas.

When Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821, Mexican authorities advised the settlers to move their families down to their relatives in the Pueblos and villages of the Rio Grande Valley because there was no protection from raiding tribes. By the late 1830s the raiding had subsided and the settlers returned. There were greater numbers and many new areas within the Land Grant were opened up to accommodate the growing families. Around 1840 the present Village of Placitas was established with its own spring-fed acequia system which still supplies irrigation and domestic water to the Village. Here, as in Old Las Huertas, arroyos were filled in and sloping land was terraced to provide new fields to cultivate. Springs as far away as Tunnel Springs were accessed for Village area irrigation.

Placitas has flourished; during the 1960’s and 1970’s it was popular among the counter-culture movement in New Mexico, and now it thrives with more upscale residents seeking a scenic non-urban setting close to Albuquerque. Placitas is still home to descendants of the land grant who continue to respect the land, water and culture of the area.

Sources used:

Place Names of New Mexico by Bob Julyan

A Brief History of the San Antonio de Las Huertas Land Grant by Tony Lucero, President of the Land Grant


Latitude: 3518
Longitude: 10625