Synopses & Reviews
North by northwest from old Santa Fe
is the winding road to Abiquiu (ah-be-cue'), Ghost Ranch, and el Valle de la Piedra Lumbre, the Valley of Shining Stone: mythical names in a near-mythical place, captured for the ages in the famous paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe.
O'Keeffe saw the magic of sandstone cliffs and turquoise skies, but her life and death here are only part of the story. Reading almost like a novel, this book spills over with other legends buried deep in time, just as some of North America's oldest dinosaur bones lie hidden beneath the valley floor. Here are the stories of Pueblo Indians who have claimed this land for generations. Here, too, are Utes, Navajos, Jicarilla Apaches, Hispanos, and Anglos-many lives tangled together, yet also separate and distinct.
Underlying these stories is the saga of Ghost Ranch itself, a last living vestige of the Old West ideal of horses, cowboys, and wide-open spaces. Readers will meet a virtual Who's Who of visitors from "dude ranch" days, ranging from such luminaries as Willa Cather, Ansel Adams, and Charles Lindbergh to World War II scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his colleagues, who were working on the top-secret atomic bomb in nearby Los Alamos. Moving on through the twentieth century, the book describes struggles to preserve the valley's wild beauty in the face of land development and increased tourism.
Just as the Piedra Lumbre landscape has captivated countless wayfarers over hundreds of years, so its stories cast their own spell. Indispensable for travelers, pure pleasure for history buffs and general readers, these pages are a magic carpet to a magic land: Abiquiu, Ghost Ranch, the Valley of Shining Stone.
"A freelance writer's acute, compelling history of one of America's more endangered landscapes. . . . Digging deeply into the history of a place, Poling-Kempes mines a rich vein of lore and myth." Kirkus Review"Most interesting are the accounts by several of the [Ghost Ranch] guests and workers gathered as oral histories that illustrate this highly romanticized Western lifestyle." Library Journal"Gracefully written, with a sharp eye for the kind of interesting detail that gies historical facts the breath of life. . . . Poling-Kempes captures the depth of O'Keeffe's feeling for the Abiquiu region, and the power this landscape has exercised over others." Albuquerque Journal
Includes bibliographical references (p. -263) and index.
About the Author
Lesley Poling-Kempes has been associated with the Ghost Ranch Conference Center since the mid 1970s. Her other books include The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West; and a novel, The Canyon of Remembering.