La Puerta Natural Burial Ground is a special place, dedicated to memories, myths, and transformations.
Memories: In 1933, when my father was eighteen years old, he jumped a freight train in central Texas and rode an empty box car to Mountainair, New Mexico to work in the bean harvest. In his free time, he explored the Manzano Mountains, Abo Ruins, and Abo Canyon. I remember the many stories he told me about that time when I was a boy.
Myths: Before any of the ruins were excavated and preserved there were local myths about mournful sounds produced by the winds as they passed over small openings in the buried rooms of the Ancient Ones.
Transformations: The railroad continues west, dropping into Abo Canyon on its way to California. For years this single tack caused a bottle-neck where trains moving through the canyon had to wait on each other to pass. Around 2008 a second track was built through the canyon, transforming the flow of freight moving along the line.
La Puerta lies at the base of the Manzanos where Abo Canyon empties out into the desert. The burial ground is bounded on the north by the railroad tracks and Abo Wash a short distance to the south. It is arguably one of the most peaceful places on earth. And, for me, the one place I feel closest to my father. For those reasons, it is my final resting place. Bury me out on the lone prairie, where the coyotes howl, and the wind blows free. Cowboy Ballad, 1910