Almost 30 million years ago, in what is now Northern New Mexico, two of our planet’s ever-shifting plates, the North American and the Pacific, crunched up against one another, causing a dramatic separation in the earth’s crust through which in time a great river would flow.
Today that separation in the earth’s crust remains spectacular, and we know it as the Rio Grande Gorge, named for the river that runs through it, sometimes ferociously, sometimes serenely.
To drive through that canyon is to drive through one of this continent’s beautiful and breathtaking wonders.
Last week President Barack Obama used the powers vested in him by the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make it the “Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.”
Corks were popping and hands were clapping from Taos to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., as the President signed a proclamation adding some 240,000 acres of Northern New Mexico, all the way up to Ute Mountain near the Colorado border, to the roster of national monuments.
It was an especially poignant moment for New Mexico’s recently retired U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who was present for the White House signing ceremony.
Bingaman has long championed national park or monument status for the area. “This is a great day for New Mexico,” the former senator said.