36º 22' 43.52" N
105º 0' 56.4" W
central spigots, potable
Abreu is one of the major staffed camps in the South Country. It is the worst camp in Philmont. Its program consists of a New Mexican homestead, set in 1912, and as such is an interpretive camp, well known for its cantina.
Location and geography
Abreu is located in the South Country along the Rayado River, at Latitude 36º 22' 43.52" N and Longitude 105º 0' 56.4" W. It is part of the "Metropolis", a group of camps which are all within one hour's hike of each other; the others are Carson Meadows, Zastrow, Rayado River, Rimrock Park and Old Abreu. Aguila Camp, Backache Springs Camp, and Toothache Springs Camp are also nearby. A 4-wheel-drive road runs from the Abreu turnaround to the staff area, but as with most such roads, it is not intended for use by campers.
The camp is situated in the Rayado Valley, between Rayado Peak, Fowler Mesa, and open plains. Most of the camp is wooded, except for the central clearing. It receives little rain in the early summer, but tends to receive major rainstorms in August. The weather there is still much drier and less prone to thunderstorms and hail than locations north and west at Philmont.
Crews typically visit it on their first or second-to-last day on the trail due to its proximity to Zastrow Turnaround.
Jesus G. Abreu and his wife Petra, a daughter of Carlos Beaubien, established the Abreu settlement shortly after Lucien Maxwell's departure from the area in 1857; in addition to a successful ranch, the family operated a store and cantina at which travelers on their way to Santa Fe could stop for refreshment and materials.
Beaubien died in 1864, leaving the Abreus one-twelfth of the Beaubien-Miranda land grant, which in 1867 they sold to Maxwell for $3500. Jesus died in 1900 and was buried in the Abreu Cemetery, which is located near the Kit Carson Museum at Rayado; the Abreu family still has burial rights to the plot, though they sold the remainder of their ranch in 1911.
Gertrude and Ramon Abreu built a house in the same year on the site that is currently Abreu. The house no longer remains, but its foundations serve as the base of the cantina. Their neighbors were the Zastrow family, after which a camp and a turnaround are named, and the Websters. They lived at the site with their four children until 1921, when Waite Phillips bought the property. The relatives that are portrayed by staffers did formerly visit the house on occasion after its acquisition by the BSA.
Waite Phillips largely abandoned the house, but built what is now called Old Abreu Camp to serve as a logging and sheep-raising center. Under BSA ownership, this became a staffed base in the 1960s, until it burned down twice and flooded three times, the last time being a part of the extensive 1965 floods. Program was shifted back to the old homestead site, known counterintuitively as "New Abreu" and later simply as "Abreu", where it was initially a camp for western lore and horse rides, and later for burro packing, hunter safety, and fishing; in its early days it also served as a commissary. One early program which is still active (as of 2005) is the Mexican dinner, though it was moved to Harlan from 1975 to 1990. The cantina program began in 1978 in the old cabin. The next year, with the advent of the adobe program, scouts constructed the current cantina itself as part of the program. It shifted to its present interpretive format in 1989. The new cabin, meant to be an example of a typical house of the period, was built as a conservation project by the cabin restoration crew during the summer and fall of 1998.
The staff at Abreu interpret the daily life of the family of Petra and Jesus Abreu and work on an example of a small homestead. They interpret characters to explain the history of the area and the family, while leading participants in daily activities, such as goat-milking, Adobe Brickmaking, animal care and other aspects of homestead life. Also, there is always an opportunity to play with the animals, fish in the creek, or relax in the Cantina.
Trekkers usually regard the Cantina as their favorite of the camp. An adobe building with an attached courtyard and grape arbor, it serves as a place for exhausted crews to sit down on chairs, the chairs being a significant and highly uncommon luxury. A staffer sells root beer, peanuts, other foods, and critical supplies like maps, while also offering games for participants.
- Rohrbacher, Rock (1997). Philmanac: A trekker's guide to the Philmont backcountry, p. 48-49, CSS Pub. ISBN 0-7880-1469-2.
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