History Herald: Smokey Bear, a New Mexico Hero!

by Laura Gonzales, Education & Volunteer Manager

Hello from your History Herald!

Smokey Bear Did you know that in 1950, in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico, crews discovered a major wildfire driven by strong wind? As the crew battled to contain the blaze they received a report of a lone bear cub seen wandering near the fire line. Suddenly, the firefighters were caught directly in the path of the fire storm. They survived by lying face down on a rock bed for over an hour as the fire burned past them. Nearby, the little cub had not fared as well. He took refuge in a tree that became completely charred, escaping with his life, but also badly burned paws and hind legs. The crew removed the cub from the tree and a rancher among the crew agreed to take him home. A New Mexico Department of Game and Fish ranger heard about the cub and drove to the rancher’s home to help get the cub on a plane to Santa Fe, where his burns were treated and bandaged.

News about the little bear spread swiftly throughout the state. Soon, the United Press and Associated Press broadcasted his story nationwide and many responded, inquiring about the cub’s recovery. The state game warden wrote to the chief of the National Forest Service, offering to present the cub to the agency as long as the cub would be dedicated to a conservation and wildfire prevention publicity program. The cub was soon on his way to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., becoming the living symbol we know and love, Smokey Bear. Smokey received numerous gifts of honey, and so many letters that they dedicated a private zip code just for him!


He remained at the zoo until his death in 1976, when he was returned to his home to be buried at the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan, New Mexico, where he continues to be a wildfire prevention legend. In 1952, the popular anthem was written, and due to the song’s popularity and the addition of “the” between his name, Smokey Bear has been called “Smokey the Bear” by many adoring fans, but, in actuality, his name never changed. He’s still simply, Smokey Bear.

Now that summer is in full swing and outdoor adventure beckons, please remember to enjoy the outdoors responsibly so that together we may protect this beautiful state and all who call her home!

Learn more about Smokey at www.smokeybear.com

Sources and Resources for at-home learning:

It’s Not the Same Old Store!

The Swallows Nest at El Rancho de las Golondrinas Have you been to El Rancho de las Golondrinas’ gift shop, The Swallow’s Nest?  It’s not the same old store anymore!  In fact, that’s the goal of the management and new sales staff — to make the store fresh and new each and every season!

Come in and meet our new sales team: Andrea Zamora and Cairn Cobb.  Both have joined us this year, and they will be happy to assist you. Both of these ladies can help you with information about the goods in our store as well as sharing their expertise concerning the Ranch, its history, background and historic structures. In addition they can provide our visitors, particularly those from out of state or out of country with recommendations on other local attractions, where to eat, places to stay, directions and little known facts about the area. Each possesses a wealth of knowledge about El Rancho de las Golondrinas, Santa Fe and New Mexico.

With a theme of “Take a piece of the Ranch home with you,” The Swallow’s Nest offers a wide variety of arts and crafts, merchandise hand crafted right here at the Ranch by our own artisans, yarns in a multitude of colors from our own Churro sheep, soaps and lotions, hand made period correct clothing, locally sourced jams, jellies, honey, spices, rubs and even sheep shaped lollipops!  There are beeswax candles, retablos and tinware from Spanish Market artists, jewelry, photographs, matted prints and giclées. For the historian, come and browse our large selection of sometimes hard to find books on Northern New Mexico history.  Children and the young at heart will delight at the large assortment of period correct toys, plush animals, puppets and, of course, our own little Josefina dolls and books.

Each season, and in fact, every month, the merchandise in The Swallow’s Nest changes and varies — so the store you see today will not be the store you see on your next visit. Artist’s works are varied and rotated routinely and new items are added almost every week!

The Swallow’s Nest is open the same hours as the Ranch — Wednesday through Sunday, 10:00am to 4:00pm.  It is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Come in and take a piece of the Ranch home with you today!

Golondrinas Mentioned in Travel Channel Story

Travel Channel

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Douglas Merriam, www.santafe.org

New Mexico: From Pueblos to Bat Dwellings

Need some road trip recommendations?

Taos and Santa Fe have always been top tourist destinations in New Mexico and, with the success of the TV series “Breaking Bad,” Albuquerque also enjoys a steady influx of visitors. But beyond the natural beauty and stunning desert surroundings of these popular locales, New Mexico is surprisingly diverse in its topography and can run the gamut from snow-capped mountains to underground caverns to lush woodlands.

The best way to see everything is by car so here are some recommended highlights that start with Taos in the north central region and take you all the way down to Carlsbad in the southeastern corner. Whether you want to take nature hikes, unwind in a spa resort or immerse yourself in the state’s fascinating history, you’ll understand why they call it the “Land of Enchantment.”