El Rancho de las Golondrinas (The Ranch of the Swallows) a historic rancho and now a living history museum, was strategically located on the Camino Real, the Royal Road that extended from Mexico City to Santa Fe. The ranch provided goods for trade and was a place where the caravans that plied the road would stop on their journey coming from or going to Santa Fe. It was a paraje, an official rest stop for travelers, and was even mentioned by the great military leader and governor, Don Juan Bautista de Anza, when he stopped here with his expeditionary force in 1780.
El Rancho de las Golondrinas, located on 200 acres in a rural farming valley just south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, strives to maintain examples of life during the period when Spain ruled in the southwestern portion of the North and most of the Central American continent. The museum opened in 1972 and is dedicated to the history, heritage and culture of 18th and 19th century New Mexico. Original buildings on the site date from the early 1700s.
In 1932, Leonora Curtin and her mother purchased the ranch property. Leonora is known for the founding of Santa Fe’s Native Market in an effort to save and reestablish traditional craft forms and techniques, and to provide local artisans with a source of income during the Great Depression. After their marriage in 1946, Leonora and her Finnish husband, Yrjö Alfred (Y.A.) Paloheimo, saw the potential in the old ranch as a site for an outdoor living history museum.
Both Leonora and Y.A. devoted themselves to transforming the property into a place where visitors could physically engage with the rich culture of the region and become immersed in the history of New Mexico. Existing historic buildings were restored, period structures were erected and historic buildings were brought in from other sites around New Mexico. The museum officially opened its doors in the spring of 1972 and over time has grown into New Mexico’s premier living history museum. Today the museum promotes and preserves the Hispano heritage of Northern New Mexico, while at the same time building a better understanding of the lasting influence of Hispanos in the Southwest and the rest of the country.