Miera y Pacheco was first European to create maps of the Four Corners region

Southwest Life

Miera y Pacheco was first European to create maps of the Four Corners region

Miera y Pacheco drew the first map of our local rivers, including the Animas, Florida, Piños and the San Juan, which he christened the Rio de Nabajo. On his map, he named the San Juan Mountains the Sierra de Las Grullas, or mountains of the cranes, because of the many migratory birds and cranes that flew over and through the San Luis Valley.
Miera y Pacheco was interested not just in rivers, drainages and mountains, but also in native inhabitants. He was an early ethnographer. He mapped Hopi villages and the “provincia” of the Navajo.
Mapmaker, farmer and artist Miera y Pacheco not only created the first map of the Colorado Plateau, he carved this altar screen in 1761. Photo by Blair Clark, courtesy of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
Cartographer Miera y Pacheco’s 1778 “Plano Geographico” map has topographical features and delightful artistic sketches, such as an image of a blindfolded pope in a carriage pulled by twin lions.
If you go

Dr. John Kessell will give a lecture about Miera y Pacheco and autograph copies of his new book, Whither the Waters, at 1 p.m. April 28 at the Animas Museum, 3065 West Second Ave., Durango.

Miera y Pacheco was first European to create maps of the Four Corners region

Miera y Pacheco drew the first map of our local rivers, including the Animas, Florida, Piños and the San Juan, which he christened the Rio de Nabajo. On his map, he named the San Juan Mountains the Sierra de Las Grullas, or mountains of the cranes, because of the many migratory birds and cranes that flew over and through the San Luis Valley.
Miera y Pacheco was interested not just in rivers, drainages and mountains, but also in native inhabitants. He was an early ethnographer. He mapped Hopi villages and the “provincia” of the Navajo.
Mapmaker, farmer and artist Miera y Pacheco not only created the first map of the Colorado Plateau, he carved this altar screen in 1761. Photo by Blair Clark, courtesy of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
Cartographer Miera y Pacheco’s 1778 “Plano Geographico” map has topographical features and delightful artistic sketches, such as an image of a blindfolded pope in a carriage pulled by twin lions.

Miera y Pacheco was first European to create maps of the Four Corners region

University of New Mexico professor emeritus Dr. John L. Kessell’s new book, Whither the Waters, is about the maps of Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco, a Spaniard who created the first maps of the Four Corners and Colorado Plateau in the 18th century. Kessell has also taught classes at Fort Lewis College.

Miera y Pacheco was first European to create maps of the Four Corners region

Of all the Hispano figures in Colorado history, mapmaker Bernardo Miera y Pacheco was chosen to be represented in stained glass in the Capitol in Denver by the Colorado Centennial-Bicentennial Commission in 1976. Artwork by Carlota D. Espinosa.

Miera y Pacheco was first European to create maps of the Four Corners region

One error in Miera y Pacheco’s map, which was repeated by other mapmakers who had never journeyed across the Colorado Plateau, was the assumption that the lake we know as the Great Salt Lake became a westward flowing river. It did not, but explorers and fur trappers would search for such a river for more than a century.
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