Did you know that this is what the south end of Corrales once looked like?
This aerial photo above was reprinted on a postcard; the reverse side notes that the photograph was taken by Joel Barrett, whose family moved to Corrales around 1950. Barrett came to study at the university and eventually became a UNM professor. He also ran a commercial photography business. I think this photograph was taken from the area that West Meadowlark Lane crosses today. The camera was directed southeast over Corrales Road, the southern bosque, the river, and, far in the distance, the 1912 iron truss bridge over the river. Beyond the Rio Grande are the fields and trees of Alameda.
One of the pleasures of knowing some Corrales history is figuring out early aerial photographs of the village. The old bridge is one solid clue to a date for the photo. It was not replaced until 1957 so we know the photograph was taken before that year. We can also surmise that the area in the photo is in the south end given the location of the bridge—it wouldn’t have been visible if the photo was taken much farther north.
I also know that the old Corrales ditch would have been visible in an aerial photo of this area, and indeed it is. Happily the relationship of the old Corrales ditch and Corrales Road has not greatly altered since this photograph was taken. The road is the white line that stretches from the upper right of the photo to disappear at the middle of the left edge. The ditch is harder to see, but it appears in roughly the center of the photo as it gradually diverges to the west of the road leaving properties sandwiched between the ditch and the road. The divergence is still evident today roughly at Mira Sol Road
Very few houses are shown in the photograph; most are surrounded by trees and I’ll get to those in the next paragraph. The most evident house is the one on the left side of the photo east of Corrales Road and separated from it by a broad field. I believe this property is still here; it is now owned by the Williams family and was built in the late 1940s or early 1950s by the Cornelius family. Its presence in this photograph and Barrett’s move to Corrales suggest that the aerial was taken in the 1950s. North of this property today is the recent Las Brisas subdivision that replaced the farmland and farmhouse built in 1934 by the Nicolls family. The Nicolls’ lava rock house that was later painted white was a landmark on south Corrales Road for decades.
On the west side of Corrales Road are several concentrations of trees that I think indicate residential properties. Roughly in the upper center of the photograph is a group of trees that I am sure is the old Chavez bungalow at 3081 Corrales Road. Modern Laker Road intersects Corrales Road on the east opposite the bungalow; when this photograph was taken Laker may have been a dirt road to an old adobe renovated in the late 1940s. Today the Chavez bungalow’s charming small field stretches south from the house to Angus Road. Of course none of the modern roads stretching west from Corrales Road appears on this aerial.
North of this property and divided from it by several open fields (modern-day Applewood Road cuts west across this area now) as the ditch heads away from Corrales Road is another group of trees reached by a short white road from the main road, These I believe are the homes at 3337 and 3339 Corrales Road; they are still separated today from Corrales Road by well-tended fields. An earlier architectural survey of this area states that the title abstract of 3337 dates back to 1867. The owner thought the house was originally a barn and bunk house. A pre-1960 owner built the swimming pool west of the house that may be visible in the photograph. A building can clearly be seen at 3339 on a 1951 aerial photograph.
This postcard presents the rural nature of Corrales seventy years ago. Although most of these fields are gone, the Village continues to celebrate its rural heritage. The hard work, resilience, and love of the land evident in this landscape can still be found in Corrales, flourishing in the Growers’ Market, Wagners’ farms, the Village Farmland Preservation and Agricultural Commission, the Bosque Advisory Commission, the wineries, the Farm Stand, the scores of residents who own and care for livestock, and the many residents—some recent and some here for generations—who tend their gardens and orchards.
Information provided by Corrales Historical Society (CHS) Archives Committee. Want to learn more? Visit http://www.CorralesHistory.org for all the interesting things the Historical Society has to offer. New CHS members are always welcome