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Salmon Ruins, Museum, Library, and Research Center are an easily accessed window into the world of the Native Chaco Culture and the 19th century settlers who called the four corners region home. Salmon Ruins is an on-going archaeological site of an 11th Chaco Cultural center. The site has been occupied by peoples of the Chaco culture and later by Puebloan’s. Another feature is Heritage Park, which exhibits the reconstructed 19th century homestead of the Salmon family and replicas of native dwellings. Other features include a 17,000 volume Research Library, a Museum, and a Gift Shop.


  • Room at Salmon Ruins
  • Entrance to Salmon Ruins
  • Map of Ruins

     Constructed at the height of the Chaco Civilization, sometime before 1100 CE, the Salmon Pueblo’s original inhabitants abandon the site after fewer than fifty years of occupation.1 Approximately 300 people lived in the Pueblo, making it one of the larger outlying Chaco population centers. The complex features a three story main structure, a great kiva, and more than 200 rooms.2 Abandoned by the Chacoan’s near 1150 CE, the site was soon re-occupied by Ancestral Pueblo people. It is remarkable that such an effort would be made in constructing the complex only to abandon it after such a short period. The Pueblo’s made significant changes to the site. Some of those changes can be seen in the stonework masonry, rooms were reconfigured. The Pueblo would again be abandoned in approximately 1265 CE, after only one hundred years of occupation.3 Excavations at the site unearthed more than one and a half million artifacts that are now housed in the Salmon Museum.4

     On July 4, 1876, San Juan County New Mexico was opened to non-Native settlement. George and Ella Salmon arrived in Bloomfield on February 12, 1877 and staked their claim. The land that George claimed contained the abandoned Pueblo that came to bear his name, The Salmon Ruins.5 Peter and his son George protected the ruins for nearly 100 years until the site could be excavated in the 1970’s. George built a homestead in the 1890’s that has been reconstructed by the San Juan County Museum Association and is one of Heritage Parks featured structures. Heritage Park has also reconstructed dwellings from different native cultures.

     A major feature of the complex is the Salmon Ruins Research Library. The library consists of over 17,000 books and other written materials. Many special collections are housed at the library including material on the Salmon Ruins, the Navajo Nation, and oral histories. The library is available for public research.6

1. Escue, Lynne D., “The Salmon Ruins”, First People, accessed March 29, 2015, http://www.firstpeople.us/articles/The-Salmon-Ruins/The-Salmon-Ruins.html 2. “Salmon Ruins and Heritage Park”, Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, accessed March 29, 2015, http://m.farmingtonnm.org/salmonruins.html 3. Lekson, Stephan H., “Chaco Canyon”, New Mexico History.org, 2015, accessed March 29, 2015, http://newmexicohistory.org/places/chaco-canyon 4. “Salmon Ruins and Heritage Park”, Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau 5. “Peter Milton Salmon”, Geni.com, last updated December 8, 2014, accessed March 29,2015, http://www.geni.com/people/Peter-Milton-Salmon/6000000006641790001 6. “Salmon Ruins, Museum, Library, and Research Center”, Salmon Ruins, 2015, accessed March 29, 2015, http://www.salmonruins.com/library.html