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Otermín described camping at a point that he called El Contadero. It was on the banks of the river across from the ruins of the pueblo of Senecú (Hackett and Shelby 1942:II.203). That description better fits later descriptions of Valverde and the location of the ruins of the hacienda and town of that name, than do later depictions of El Contadero showing it south of Black Mesa and away from the river. The 1773 map by Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco showed an unnamed paraje north of “Mesa de Senecú” which would have been Valverde (Adams and Chávez 1956:268; Marshall and Walt 1984:286)
On 20 November 1780 Anza left the spring of the Apaches, or the “Apache Wood,” and traveled four leagues to Valverde, where he noted the tracks of many horses and people crossing the river. His party rested there the next day before going on five leagues to Fray Cristóbal (Thomas 1932:198). During the nineteenth century Valverde was often noted as the site of a good ford. The paraje of Valverde next appeared in 1805 in a report on vaccinations (Marshall and Walt 1984:286).
The 1819 description of the Valverde Grant noted that it began at the “Ancon de Valverde” on the east bank of the Río Grande, opposite the mouth of the Arroyo de San Pasqual (Bowden 1969:II, 163). There is now a bend in the river adjacent to the Valverde town site and across from the mouth of Tiffany Canyon. Tiffany Arroyo, a name whose origin is in the twentieth century, is across from and slightly south of the ruin of San Pasqual. In 1832, Valverde was described as the ruins of a hacienda on the outskirts of the settlements of New Mexico at the edge of the desert of the Jornada del Muerto (Carroll and Haggard 1942:78-80; Julyan 1996:353).
In 1839, Gregg observed the ruins of Valverde and wrote that it had been founded only 20 years earlier, in some of the richest land in New Mexico, and was deserted due to Indian attacks (Gregg 1933:258). On 30 July 1846, Wislizenus wrote of passing the “ruins of Valverde,” which he described as “the mud walls of a deserted Mexican village,” in an area of sand hills and cottonwood trees within twelve miles to the 164 south of Luis López’s hacienda (Wislizenus 1848:37).
In 1846, Abert identified the river crossing at Valverde and recommended that southbound wagons be taken to the west bank of the Río Grande at Alburquerque and back to the east side at this ford. Abert mentioned and sketched the Mesa overlooking the ruins of Valverde and placed it 15 miles from Fray Cristóbal (Abert 1962:120,125-133). Gibson described his camp near the ruins of Valverde in 1846. It was in a grove of trees near the base of Black Mesa and bore traces of earlier campers. When his unit left Valverde it went six miles around the east side of the mesa to a camp on the south side (Bieber 1935:293-294). Depictions of the Civil War Battle of Valverde confirm that the entire battle took place in the shadow of the Mesa del Contadero (Alberts 1984:42;Hall 1960:84,97).
The paraje north of Mesa de Contadero variously called Contadero or Valverde probably spread along the riverbank and filled the space between the river sand the edge of the hills. Accounts of the Battle of Valverde also include an old riverbed on the east side of the valley but still in its bottom (Alberts 1984:42,46; Hall 1960:84,97). Depending upon the age of that bed, or the possibility that the river bed has changed regularly over the last several centuries, it could be that the segment of the paraje which experienced the heaviest use is much closer to the hills than to the existing river bed.