The pueblo village is now named Salmon Ruins in honor of the family who went to such effort to preserve and protect the site. In the 1960s, the family was ready to move on but wanted the site and homestead to be used for educational purposes. The San Juan County Museum Association took over in 1969, and arranged for excavation of the ruin between 1972 and 1978. This was conducted by archaeology students from Eastern New Mexico University and was directed by Dr. Cynthia Irwin-Williams. The museum was built to display recovered artifacts and manage visitation at the site. Salmon Ruins opened to the public in 1973. Heritage Park was started in 1990 to commemorate the lifeways of the region’s diverse cultures who didn’t live on the grounds but are part of the cultural use of the area.
The San Juan County Museum Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was formed to acquire and organize funding for Salmon Ruins, which is not supported by federal or state tax money. It is through our entrance fees, private Tours, Gift Shop sales, donations by members and visitors, and our archaeological contract company, the Division of Conservation Archaeology (DCA) that we are able to provide educational outreach, an exhibit space, and maintain stabilization and structural repairs to the Salmon Ruins site itself. These needs are extreme and constant, and we appreciate all of the individuals who have supported our mission in the past, and who continue to do so. Become a member to help out, follow the links to learn more about us, and continue reading to find out how Salmon Ruins came to be.
The site itself was built in A.D. 1088-1090 by people we know today as the Ancestral Puebloans. The village was lived in until around 1288. The structure and artifacts show a clear architecture and culture relationship to those in Chaco Canyon, identifying Salmon Pueblo as a Chacoan Outlier. Starting as early as 1050, and becoming extensive by 1200, a slow migration began to draw family groups away from the Four Corners region and towards more protective locations atop steep mesas, or to the more reliable water sources of the Rio Grande region. By 1300, the inhabitants of most Four Corners pueblos had migrated, leaving their villages to fall into ruin. Athabaskan-speaking hunters and gatherers began to expand into the region by the 1400s, often reusing the resources and materials from the abandoned villages that they encountered. These groups were well established and thriving when Spanish explorers entered the Four Corners region in the late 1500s. Defensive Pueblito structures were built by the Navajo during the 1600s and 1700s throughout the region and can still be seen at the heads of canyons or perched atop boulders where the view enabled them to protect their families and livestock.
OPEN! OPEN! OPEN! 9AM-5PM DAILY, MASKS REQUIRED, ENTRY ONLY THROUGH MUSEUM!
Copyright May 1, 2020 San Juan County Museum Association at Salmon Ruins Museum. All rights reserved.