This week’s Throwback Thursday is a double hitter - we’re celebrating #WomensHistoryMonth!
Elena Gallegos Open Space was acquired by the City in the early 1980’s, under Mayor Harry Kinney (pictured below). The purchase came after an outcry of public support for preserving the land, and preventing development. Most of the land was traded to the US Forest Service, creating the Sandia Mountain Wilderness. We kept around 640 acres, creating the open space, trails, and picnic areas that have become a popular spot for Albuquerquens to enjoy the outdoors. Below, crews are pictured shortly after the acquisition building picnic shade structures.
Doña Elena Gallegos was born here in 1680 in what was then Spanish colonial land. Her family fled the area in that same year to escape the Pueblo Revolt. In her adulthood, she would move back to New Mexico with her brother, an uncle and her tattooed, French Husband. Elena’s husband was a Spanish prisoner who would eventually be granted freedom after renouncing his French Citizenship and assuming the Spanish name Santiago Gurule. He would pass away in 1711, leaving Elena a widow.
Elena never remarried, even though she had a young son to look after. In an unprecedented move for the time, she wrote to the Governor and requested her own livestock brand to protect her horses and cattle. Her request was granted. She didn’t stop there in breaking gender norms, purchasing thousands of acres of land to raise her livestock on - later to be known as the Elena Gallegos Land Grant. Spanning from what is now Montgomery NE, north to Sandia Pueblo, east to the mountains and bordering the river.
Elena passed away in 1731, and was buried at the original San Felipe de Neri parish in Old Town Albuquerque, before it collapsed and was rebuilt at a different location on the plaza.