History of El Torreon Hacienda, circa 1847

In 1840, the Cardenas family arrived on burros at this spot in El Prado. The main house, El Torreon Hacienda was built in 1847 and designed primarily as a fort. This enclosed complex served to safeguard the few animals at night as well as protection from the Comanche and Apache raiding parties who were drawn to the region’s rich stores of grain and wheat.

During this violent era, with every approach of Indian raiders, muskets were loaded and extra powder was brought to the sharp shooters stationed on the roof of the hacienda. One of the unusual features of the hacienda is the torreon, or watchtower located on the south side of the hacienda, which is complete with firing apertures. Used to spot approaching enemies and to defend the hacienda, torreon’s were a common sight in New Mexico several hundred years ago. Below in the courtyard, the women heated lard in large, boiling caldrons, which would be hauled up to the roof and poured on the attackers.

The Spanish most likely adopted the style and function of the torreons from the numerous Pueblo Indians scattered about the Rio Grande Valley. They were in common use by their predecessors, the Anazazi. The torreon at the hacienda has been many things, including for many years, a chicken coop.

It is the wish of the Cardenas family to maintain the torreon with frequent muddings and to turn it into a shrine or santuario to honor the many people who sacri