Las Penuelas (Black Hill)

On 24 May 1598, the Oñate expedition traveled four leagues north of the Paraje del Perrillo without any water. They finally came to some small pools next to Piedras de Afilar where they drank and rested. They took their horses to the river, more than six leagues off to their left, where it was extremely hilly and very rough (Pacheco, Cárdenas y Torres 1871:XVI, 248-249). Marshall and Walt place Oñate at Las Peñuelas on this day (Marshall and Walt 1984:237). The association of Oñate’s camp with Peñuelas, or with Alemán, is reasonable. Through the rest of the Jornada del Muerto, Oñate’s journal becomes confused. It appears that there is data missing from it, making any conclusions based upon that source hazardous. Vargas went from El Perrillo to Las Peñuelas on 28 August 1692, but did not estimate the distance of his journey. He did note that it was six leagues from Las Peñuelas to El Muerto (Kessell and Hendricks 1992:371).

On 25 May 1726 Rivera left San Diego and traveled eleven leagues north-northwest through flat land, leaving the hills called “el Perilloto” the east, and stopped at an uninhabited paraje, with no water or fire-wood, called Las Peñuelas (Alessio Robles 1946:49). Julyan identifies Las Peñuelas as Point of Rocks (Julyan 1996:199). Such an association is obvious on the basis of the name alone. However, chroniclers who visited both the hills and water source of Perrillo and Peñuelas noted considerable, and variant, distances between the two. A comparison of distance estimates suggests that Peñuelas and Alemán (below) were the same, or at least were very near one another. Perhaps the rocks in the name and in Oñate’s description of his camp of 24 May refer to Prisor Hill. It is by Aleman Draw and has a well marked on its western flank; however, at about 2 leagues southeast of the modern locale of Aleman it may be too far off the track. Black Hill is further north and a little west. In pinpointing any of these parajes the relationships between them must be considered.


A place name well known in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, it may have referred to a site later called by other names.

Courtesy U.S. Department of the Interior. El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail, Comprehensive Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement. Santa Fe, NM: National Park Service/Bureau of Land Management,2004.