One of the highlights of our visit to El Malpais was discovering the old Garrett Homestead. This archeological ruins site is located a short walking distance from a gravel road that leads to a sandstone bluff overlook. Built between 1935 and 1937, the homestead was one of many in the area that were victims of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.
Homesteading was no easy task for the families who traveled to this area with dreams to begin new lives in the American West. They had to make $800 worth of improvements and live on the land for seven of twelve months for three years before they were declared owners of the land. Most families did not fulfill their ownership requirements because of the harsh circumstances, and they had to move to more developed areas to make a living and survive.
The Garrett Homestead site consists of a residential structure with some remaining standing architecture and also the ruins of several outbuildings. The National Park Service has included the area in its Vanishing Treasures program so that the artifacts can be maintained and preserved.
New Mexico was experiencing high winds during our April visit, which is typical in the spring season. With an abundance of scattered clouds developing in the atmosphere, the winds were soon weaving the clouds into glorious swooping patterns. A traveling photographer always hopes for optimum weather and lighting conditions, but is ready to adapt to whatever luck has in store at that particular moment in time. It goes without saying that the best pictures result in being at the right place at the right time. Fortunately, the planets aligned for us at the homestead, and I was able to record this dramatic setting. I couldn’t decide whether the scene deserved a horizontal or vertical composition, so I shot it both ways!