The Stones of Duke City

My wife is in Albuquerque for a few days. We drove through Duke City this summer and I can recommend two things to do in town. One, go to the legendary Frontier Restaurant, and two pick up a copy of George Austin’s guide to the geology of the downtown area.  Written with both geologists and non-geologists in mind, the booklet contains a two-hour long, self-guided tour of Albuquerque’s building stone. It also includes sections on local geology, quarrying, and milling. 

Austin, who has worked for the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources for over three decades, ably weaves history, architecture, and geology into a fun expedition.  We discover clam, snail, and crinoid fossils, Albuquerque’s first skyscraper (built in 1922), and billion-year-old granite called Fred Red. We also learn about Route 66 and Pueblo Deco architecture.  As in most cities, the building stone spans the globe and geologic time, from as young as a few hundred thousand years to as old as 2.6 billion years. 
The book is available on line or in Albuquerque for $8.50. The title is Scenic Trips to the Geologic Past #17, Albuquerque Downtown from a Geologic Point of View–A Walking Tour of the City Center. 
And if you are interested in reading more about Albuquerque, two fine books are Rudolfo Anaya’s Alburquerque, a novel of politics, family, and boxing, and Edward Abbey’s brilliant Brave Cowboy, which was made into a movie starring Kirk Douglas. Douglas, by the way, called it his favorite film.