Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Bridge of the Hidalgos

photo of bridgeThe time is 1920. A new state highway connecting Taos and Santa Fe has just been built with federal aid. Residents of the (then) northwest area of Santa Fe petitioned the Santa Fe County Commission for a new bridge over Arroyo Mascaras (on upper Grant at Rosario). The concrete 'El Puente de los Hidalgos' and the concrete Cross of the Martyrs were built in the same year by the Midland Bridge Company, and dedicated as part of the Fiesta celebration that fall. The bridge was of the design patented by James Marsh in 1912, known as a Marsh arch or "rainbow arch." At one time there were hundreds of Marsh arch bridges in the country. There may be only a few dozen remaining. The bridge over Arroyo Mascaras is the only rainbow arch bridge left in New Mexico.

A procession across El Puente and up to the Cross remained a feature of the Fiesta celebration for several decades; but as the neighborhood filled in densely on the formerly empty hill, a new Cross of the Martyrs was erected by the Fiesta Council near the ruins of Fort Marcy. That's the Cross that present-day residents think of as the Cross of the Martyrs. The Near Northside Neighborhood Association bought    the old cross on its lot on Paseo de la Loma from the Orthodox Catholic Christian Parish of St. Joseph and deeded it to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation for preservation in 1993. (Map)

Some longtime residents are familiar with the Old Cross of the Martyrs, some people are familiar with the Bridge of the Hidalgos, some people who don't spend time on the Near Northside may never have noticed either structure. Most of this information comes from a paper written by Corinne Sze of the Historic Santa Fe Foundation in 1991, at the time that the bridge was listed as a historic site. We have a copy in our vertical file. Ask for "Santa Fe--Historic Landmarks--Buildings and Districts II". Thank you to HSSF and to Corrinne Sze for sharing the paper.

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