Rio Arriba
A New Mexico County
by Robert J. Torrez and Robert Trapp

68 illustrations 408 pages
$19.95/PB (978-1-890689-65-0)


Rio Arriba: A New Mexico County
Rio arriba. In Spanish, the lower case rio arriba stands for the “upper river,” that portion of northern New Mexico that straddles the Rio del Norte, the historic name of the Rio Grande. In the upper case, they stand for Rio Arriba County, a geopolitical entity that constitutes a small portion of the historic rio arriba. The words define a vast portion of New Mexico that extends from the historic villa of Santa Fe north into the San Luis Valley of today’s southern Colorado. Former New Mexico State Historian Robert J. Tórrez, Robert Trapp, long-time owner and publisher of Española’s Rio Grande Sun, and eight additional authors have come together to examine the long and complex history of this rio arriba.

Rio Arriba: A New Mexico County reviews the history of this fascinating and unique area. The authors provide us an overview of its primordial beginnings (that left us the fossilized remains of coelophysis, our official state fossil), introduce us to the Tewa peoples that established the county’s first permanent settlements, as discuss the role the Navajo, Ute, and Jicarilla Apache played in the region’s history. As the history unfolds, the reader learns about the Spanish conquistadores and later-arriving Americans, their often contentious relations with the Native American peoples, and how the communities they established and the institutions they brought with them helped shape the Rio Arriba County of today.

Robert J. Tórrez was born and raised in the northern Rio Arriba County community of Los Ojos and is a graduate of Tierra Amarilla High School. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas and served as the New Mexico State Historian from 1987 until his retirement in December 2000. During the past four decades more than one hundred of his scholarly and popular articles on New Mexico history and culture have been published in numerous regional and national publications. He has also contributed to a dozen books, and since 1992, has written a monthly column, “Voices From the Past,” for Round the Roundhouse. His recent books include UFOs Over Galisteo and Other Stories of New Mexico’s History (University of New Mexico Press, 2004), New Mexico in 1876-1877, A Newspaperman’s View (Rio Grande Books, 2007) and Myth of the Hanging Tree (University of New Mexico Press, 2008).

Robert Trapp is a native of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado and a veteran newspaperman. He served with the Army Air Force in World War II and after the war attended the University of Colorado under the GI Bill. He worked on daily newspapers in Alamosa, Colorado; New Bern, North Carolina; Rock Springs, Wyoming and Great Falls, Montana. In 1956, he, his wife Ruth, also a journalist, and another couple started the Rio Grande Sun in Española and he has worked as an editor/publisher since. He and Ruth have three children and live in an old adobe in Sombrillo, a suburb of Española. Their son, Robert B. Trapp, currently is managing editor of the Sun.