Petaca, NM

by Bridget Harrington - Michael Moore July. 07, 2018 1910 views

Petaca (Spanish for "hip flask") is a small community - just 25 people as of the last census - about 15 miles northeast of El Rito.

On January 29, 1836, Jose Julian Martinez, together with his father, Antonio Martinez, and Francisco Antonio Atencio and his sons petitioned the Ayuntamiento (manager of the town hall) of the Town of Ojo Caliente asking for a grant covering a piece of vacant land, known as the petaca and situated upon the Ojo Caliente River, for agricultural purposes.

The settlement was in existence when the United States conquered the area in 1846 and has been continuously occupied and used since its inception except for short periods when Native hostilities forced its inhabitants to seek safety at Ojo Caliente.

There are mica and muscovite (used in glassmaking and electronics) mines in the hills surrounding the town; everyone in town who works and who does not live on one of the small ranches, works in one of the mines. Everyone, as is true in most small towns, knows everyone else. It's a simple, if not predictable lifestyle.

The two cemeteries in town are of the type that we enjoy photographing: multigenerational, with many homemade monuments and decorations left by family.

We were also honored to meet the mayordomo of the sole church in the immediate area, who was gracious enough to allow us inside. See our post on the church here.

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