Piedra Lumber Visitor Center Redevelopment formerly known as the Ghost Ranch Living Museum on Highway 84 comes together as three northern New Mexico land grants unite together to create a new enterprise. The three lands are San Joaquin del Rio de Chama, Juan Bautista Baldez Land Grant and Merced de Los Pueblos de Tierra Amarilla.
The Land Grants-Mercedes hope to develop the site with Business Ventures that generate enough revenue to support cultural & community service-based programming at the center and provide a revenue stream for the land grants which will be put back into services for their local communities.
The Piedra Lumbre Visitor Center is located 65 miles northwest of Santa Fe, New
Mexico, beside Highway 84 – between Española and Chama. Specifically, 22630 US
Highway 84, Abiquiu, NM 87501. The land where the facility now sits was once part of
the Piedra Lumbre Land Grant. This grant of just under 50,000 acres was given to
Lieutenant Pedro Martín Serrano from King Charles III of Spain in 1766. Serrano
operated a ranch on the land and grazed cattle and sheep for several years in the early
The US Forest Service operated the visitor center in the 1970s through a land
exchange but had been involved from the early stages of its operation. From 1959 to
1969, the Forest Service provided a summer visitor guide to work at the museum to
help educate visitors in the multiple uses of the land. In the summer of 1960, they
constructed a miniature national forest at the Ghost Ranch Museum. The Beaver
National Forest was a two-acre exhibit built to depict the multiple uses of national forest
land and the smallest proclaimed unit in the National Forest System. Aided by its
proximity to Highway 84, the Forest Service operated the facility as a visitor center and
zoo from 1969 to 2006. While in operation, the visitor center brought in 60,000 to
100,000 visitors annually ranging from researchers, school children, locals, and
Las Mercedes Unidas is made up of 3 separate land grants; Merced Comunitaria de
Juan Bautista Baldés Land Grant, Merced de Los Pueblos de Tierra Amarilla, Merced
San Joaquin del Rio de Chama. They purchased the properties in July 2021 as tenants
in common. Las Mercedes Unidas is working to develop the site as a business venture
that can generate enough revenue to support the cultural and community-service
based programming at the center, and to provide a revenue stream for the land grants
which will be put back into services for their local communities. Las Mercedes Unidas
is a current recipient of Property Redevelopment Technical Assistance from the State of
New Mexico Economic Development Department’s Main Street program.
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