18 Apr 2016
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Notes from the Road: The Historic El Rancho de las Golondrinas


Down the street from Sunrise Springs on Los Pinos Road is the most beautiful living museum in the Southwest, El Rancho de las Golondrinas (Swallow Ranch). Purchased in the 1930s by the Curtin-Paloheimo family, the historic ranch began its evolution to a museum, when, according to the Las Golondrinas website, “existing historic buildings were restored, authentic structures were erected on old foundations and related buildings were brought in from other New Mexican sites.” The museum opened for business in 1972.

Museum structures include an 18th century placita house complete with defensive tower or torreon, a schoolhouse from Raton, a working mill from Sapello, a 19th Century home and outbuildings, a molasses mill, a threshing ground, several primitive water mills, a blacksmith shop, a wheelwright shop, a winery and a vineyard, all depicting many of the essential elements of early New Mexico.  The Sierra Village portrays life as it was lived in the mountainous regions of New Mexico. 

In addition to all of the wonderful buildings and activities, the museum, led by Julianna Lopez and Sean Paloheimo (fourth generation museum family), has a very active farm operation. As a non-profit the museum does not sell its produce but instead donates the majority of it to the Food Depot (on average the museum donates over 2,000 pounds of produce per year).

Make sure to put the Museum’s June 4-5 Spring Festival and Fiber Arts Fair on your calendar.  It is one of the highlights of the season. In addition to the Fiber Arts Fair there will be docents and volunteers dressed for the occasion demonstrating traditional crafts and trades.  It is a step back into territorial New Mexico.

Among other duties, Carl is Sunrise’s Chief Guest Transportation Officer and often has gems of conversation to relate. 

Guest Comments from the Road

“You are my angel, you all are my angels. I am taking my angels home with me.”

What did you enjoy most about your stay?  “The staff.”

“I didn’t know what I was looking for when I came to Sunrise Springs… but I found it”.


carldickens1Carl Dickens began working at Sunrise Springs in 1984, the same year he and his family moved to the valley. Carl remained at Sunrise Springs for five years, and later returned in September of 2012. Carl is active in the local community and is passionate about the history of the area, preserving its agricultural traditions, and water conservation.