Questa Timeline

Rio Colorado – St. Anthony’s Church and History – Time Line             by Carrie Leven

* Church-related historic events in Bold print*

1150 – El Pueblito at the mouth of Red River Canyon well-established and settled by people ancestral to Taos Pueblo (current VFW Cemetery)

1598 – Spanish colonialization begins in northern New Mexico

1694 – visit by Diego de Vargas on the Kiowa trail, report of Apaches living at Rio Colorado

1805-1818 – First Questa-area settlers travel to Rio Colorado on Kiowa Trail, aka Taos Trail, Trapper’s Trail and Sangre de Cristo Trail, driving their sheep

1808 – 1815 – First water rights

1815 – First Questa-area land grant to 50 settlers

1818 – First Questa-area baptism records (land grant records?)

1821 – Mexico independence from Spain, US trade opened along the Santa Fe & Old Spanish trail; especially from 1830 to 1848, when it was the main trade route, brought many more Americans and Europeans to Questa area

1822 – Rio Colorado abandoned due to Indian raids

1829 – House built by Don Francisco LaForet near Red River (South Kiowa road)

1830 – Don Benito and four other pioneers settle Questa-area

1835 – Families come to Questa from Taos to farm and graze sheep in the summers

1836 – Canon del Rio Colorado land grant; first church built in Rio Colorado – Oratorio or Capilla at other location

1840 “El Oratorio, a place of prayer and religious congregation, on the outskirts of Questa, by the side of Cabresto Creek, just south of HWY 38, under a cluster of old cottonwood trees stood the old Oratorio, abandoned.”

1842 – Petition of 35 families for land grant for San Antonio del Rio Colorado; possession granted by Juan Antonio Martinez in Jan 1842

1840s – Rio Colorado buildings constructed on the mesa, rather than down along the river

1842 – Rio Colorado officially founded, San Antonio Church begin construction, probably

1842 – First baptism records from Rio Colorado

1845 – soldiers sent to Rio Colorado due to Cheyenne raiding

Mid 1840s – late 1850s – construction of Rio Colorado church underway

1846 – Mexican – American War; troops to Rio Colorado to protect against raiding

1848 – Treaty of Guadalupe de Hildago; land grants upheld, Territorial Period

1849 – 100 families living in Questa

1851 – New Mexico becomes Territory of the United States; Rio Colorado land grants disputed

1851 – US Calvary to Questa to protect settlers from Indian raids

1855 – Ponderosa Pine trees harvested on Flag Mountain for roof vigas on San Antonio church, mules used to skid logs down to Questa, some vigas carried by hand by the men

1860 – Bishop Lamy visits Rio Colorado and notes “the beautiful new church on the north side of the plaza”

1860 – Questa-area land grants not recognized by US Court

1873 – New church built in Questa (likely reported in 1873 as part of Rio Grande to Denver Railroad map, and railroad stations connected by stage coach and freight wagon)

1880 – St Anthony’s church built, according to Library of Congress (maybe listed as a new church as part of a US Census)

1883 – US Post Office established, name change from Rio Colorado to “Questa” meant to be spelled Cuesta – slope, grade, indicating the steep road running to the village built on Cabresto “mesa,” rather than the old settlers’ log cabins found along Cabresto Creek as it joins with the Red River, south of current NM Hwy 38.

1899 – Roof renovation of church, names found written on ceiling boards with 1899 date

1912 – New Mexico becomes 47th state of United States; Llano Irrigation Company forms

1942 – Msgr. Glenn Patrick Smith – first resident parish priest in Questa

1943 – single central bell tower at St Anthony Church in old photo

1950 – two bell towers at St Anthony’s church shown in old photo

1972 –  major renovation of church, repair of west walls

1999 – Renovation by Cornerstones historic preservation group, bell towers extended

2000 – Limestone whitewash over exterior adobe bricks

200? – adobe color plaster over lime stone? Must have occurred sometime then?

2008 – West wall of St Anthony’s church collapses

2009-2010 – many, but not all, parishioners, community members, Village of Questa, want to save church, Priest and Diocese of Santa Fe want to demolish old and build anew

2011 – San Antonio church declared a historic building suitable for preservation

2011 – Archdiocese relinquishes control of St Anthony’s church to San Antonio del Rio Colorado Preservation for six years to complete restoration

2012 – West wall completed

2013 – East wall completed

2014 – Back / north wall completed, heating system and subfloor

2015 – Front portal finished and exterior brown coat, electric system

2016 – Plaster coat and paint inside, new floor, sound system, altar screen, retablos, and stained glass windows, installed

2016 – August 8, 2016, dedication mass at completed church

2017 – Final landscaping and color coat

Repairs to the adobe walls undertaken since the 1970s have neither been lasting nor successful, resulting in continued degradation. An effort in the late 1990s to preserve the original east wall, left the old wall intact but unstable, and hidden and crumbling behind a facade.

A majority of the history here comes from, “Another Time in This Place: Historia, Cultura, y Vida en Questa” by Tessie Rael y Ortega and Judith Cuddihy, 2003.  This is supplemented with information gathered from Santa Fe Diocese records and land grant maps of Questa-area.