Hitting the Trail: LHIP at the National Trails Office – Ramona Malczynski

Driving from Albuquerque to El Paso last weekend I was so excited to see signs that said “El Camino Real – Original Route” because I knew I would soon start my Latino Heritage Internship Program position as the Latino Historic Trails Partnership Outreach Intern. I have traveled from Albuquerque to El Paso and vice versa hundreds of times to visit my extended family and have always thought it is the most beautiful journey filled with a lot of memories and meaning for me. Now, whenever I go south I will always notice the National Park Service signs. I will think about the thousands of people who traveled El Camino for centuries from Indigenous peoples who used the original route for trade across the continent, to people today who use the historic route turned interstate highway to visit their families, go to work or school, or visit historic sites.

National Park Service roadside signage indicating you are traveling along El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, a historic route.
My classmate took this photo on Isleta Boulevard in Albuquerque, NM near the Gutierrez-Hubbell House, a historic site certified with the National Park Service.

I am so excited to continue learning more about El Camino, especially because of its link to my family history. This summer I hope to help other people connect to the history that surrounds them. During my internship I will help build and maintain National Park Service partnerships with organizations and individuals that maintain historic sites along El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, eight other national historic trails, and historic Route 66. All of these routes are administered by the National Park Service’s National Trails Office for the Intermountain Region in Albuquerque, where I will be working. I am looking forward to connecting with people who want to preserve historic sites and educate visitors about the rich, complex cultural history of the American West. Plus, I cannot wait to take day trips to amazing historic sites along these historic trails that I have not yet explored!

I took this photo of an official historic scenic marker at Edith Ave and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd in Albuquerque New Mexico. Edith Blvd follows part of the historic route of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.
You can walk down this sidewalk and see which cities you would have passed traveling along El Camino about 200 years ago.

The official historic scenic marker in the photo above is down the street from where I am studying for my PhD in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of New Mexico. I just completed my first year of PhD coursework and am eager to use my position at LHIP to apply concepts from classes and develop skills that will help me be successful in my PhD and beyond. Though many LHIP interns travel far and wide for their work, I am thrilled to be staying close to home to develop a deeper understanding of the history and communities of my home state and the American West.

Hope to see you on the open road!

¡Hasta luego!

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