Guadalupe Mountains National Park was established on September 30, 1972. It preserves the rugged spirit and remote wilderness of the American West. Wallace Pratt, a petroleum geologist who was charmed by the beauty and geology of the Guadalupe, purchased land in McKittrick Canyon in the 1930’s. In 1959, Pratt donated his land to the National Park Service.
Archaeological evidence unearthed in and near the canyon showed people lived there over 12,000 years ago. In the early 1500s, the Mescalero Apaches inhabited the canyon until the arrival of settlers, cattle drovers, and stage lines. As the land was taken from the Indians, conflicts arose. Skirmishes turned to bloody battles. Settlers demanded protection. The Mescalero were forced from the area as cavalry troops penetrated the Guadalupes, raiding and destroying Apache rancherias, rations and supplies. By the late 1800s, nearly all of the surviving Mescalero Apaches in the U.S. were on reservations.
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