The National Trust for Historic Preservation named New Mexico’s Mount Taylor to its 2009 list of America’s 11 most endangered historic places.
Mount Taylor is a peak of nearly 12,000 feet in the San Mateo Mountains between Albuquerque and Gallup. Many American Indian tribes view the mountain as a sacred place, and the National Trust believes it is endangered because of uranium-mining efforts in the area.
The mountain sits on the Grants Uranium Belt, known as a rich reserve of uranium ore. The area already went through two mining booms in the 1950s and 1970s, and demand for uranium has renewed interest in mining it in New Mexico. The state Mining and Minerals Division continually receives proposals for exploration and mining operations at Mount Taylor, the National Trust says.
If the mining were allowed to proceed, it “would have a devastating impact on this cherished historic place,” the National Trust said in a press release.
The mountain has been a pilgrimage site for up to 30 different tribes, especially nearby Acoma Pueblo, the Trust said. Mount Taylor is 50 miles from Acoma Sky City, a National Trust Historic Site. Centuries ago, the Acoma called the mountain Kaweshtima, which means “place of snow.”
Since 1988, the National Trust has issued its annual list of most endangered historic places in an effort to inspire public interest in preserving the sites. Over the years, the list has included sites ranging from a single rural building to an entire community or urban neighborhood.
Other places on the 2009 list include the Utah hangar that houses the Enola Gay bomber, which dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan; Los Angeles’ Century Plaza Hotel, designed by the architect who later designed the twin towers of the World Trade Center; and the cast-iron storefront district in Galveston, Texas, damaged by flooding from Hurricane Ike.