Where in the USA is the CoCo Locomoto? travel blog

Loretto Chapel

Miracle Stairway from the Choir Loft to the Chapel

Center of the Staircase

Loretto Chapel Alter

Beautiful Stained Glass in the Loretto Chapel

Stairway to the loft

Oldest Working Church in the U.S. San Miguel Chapel

Alter in the San Miguel Chapel

Hand carved beam from 1710 in San Miguel Chapel

Oldest House in the US

Native American portion of the Oldest House

Spanish portion of the Oldest House


Do you believe in miracles? We report...you decide. Arriving in Albuquerque for a few days, on Monday we drove to Santa Fe to see several things on our "bucket list." Santa Fe is a beautiful city and is the "oldest state capital in the U.S." Santa Fe is one of the country's most famous walking cities. It's small enough to navigate easily on foot, with miles of winding streets filled with charming adobe shops, homes and historic buildings as well as contemporary galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Not being shoppers, we did enjoy spending time walking around downtown and enjoying and appreciating the beautiful archtecture of the city. Our first stop was the Miracle Chapel which we have heard so much about. "Construction began in 1873 on the Loretto Chapel and was completed about five years later at a cost of $30,000. When the building was complete, it was discovered there was no way to access the choir loft from the main floor of the chapel. Many carpenters were brought in and all said because of the height of the loft a conventional staircase would take up too much room in the small chapel and the Sisters of Loretto had two options: either use a ladder to access the loft or rebuild the balcony. Very disappointed, the Sisters decided they had a third option and that was to make a novena (a nine day prayer) to Saint Joseph, in hopes that a suitable solution would be forthcoming. Lo and behold on the nineth day a gray-haired man with a donkey and tool chest arrived and asked if he might help build the stairs. Mother Magdelene who was Superior Mother at the time was delighted and let him go to work. Within months the job was finished by the gray-haired man with nothing but a saw, T-square and hammer. When Mother Magdelene went to pay the man, he was nowhere to be found. Checking with the man at the lumber yard back then, there was no record of the man purchasing anything from them and it is still a mystery what kind of wood was used and where it came from. Wood experts say it appears to be a hard variety and not a native wood to New Mexico. The stairway, evidently left as a gift to the Sisters of Loretto, consists of 33 steps and two complete 360 degree turns each, without a center support. It rests against the loft at the top and the floor at the bottom and is put together with wooden pegs. Architects and builders from around the country have examined the stairs and say it should have fallen in a heap the first time it was used and can't be done! The stairs are still being used daily, over 150 years later. The railing was added two years after the stairs were completed." The above information was taken from 'Miracle or a Wonder of Construction' by Carl R. Albach, Consulting Electrical Engineer, Santa Fe, NM. Having been there and seen these Miracle Stairs for ourselves, days later we are still in awe of this amazing engineering feat and it is a sight not to be missed by anyone in the area. Now...do you believe in miracles? While we were visiting the Loretto Chapel there was a film crew from the Travel Channel there filming a segment called "The Miracle of A Mystery" which will air in the spring. The chapel is absolutely stunning and has been very well preserved. Our next stop was to the San Miguel Mission which is the oldest working chapel in the United States and continues to be restored as funds allow. The alter was created in 1798. The hand carved beam in the photo has an inscription in Spanish which states it was erected in 1710. The Church has found documents that date it back to 1628 but they can not be substantiated. While it too is beautiful, having been to the Loretto Chapel first, it certainly wasn't as amazing but well worth your time. Right behind the San Miguel Mission is the "Oldest House in the U.S." which dates back to 1646. A portion of the house was build by Native Americans and was a temporary residence of Territorial Governor Chacon Medina Salazar. And in the 1800's an addition was added to the house by Spaniards. It is amazing to see how well the two cultures have blended the house together to feel like a seamless residence. Reportedly the house is still occupied by 'shadowy' inhabitants who visibly make their presence known from time to time. It too, continues to be restored as funds allow and the lady that has taken on much of the restoration is a delight to visit with and has done a lot to make sure the decor adheres to the time periods of the house. Next it was on to find the "Santa Fe" Trail and see the wagon ruts of the trail. Driving around Santa Fe to where we were told to look, Mike was reading the information we had picked up at the Visitors Center and we learned that the Trail was not for Pioneers but a freight trail to service the many forts in the area. We finally ended up at the National Park's Regional Headquarters and I went in to see where we needed to go. To our great dismay, the Old Santa Fe Trail has been blacktopped and is no longer visible in the Santa Fe area. This was such a huge disappointment as America has lost a part of its history. It was getting late but I had one more stop I wanted to make, so off we went to the Georgia O'Keeffe Art Museum. Having always loved her art and used many of her pieces in my staging business I was anxious to see the "real" thing instead of the posters I could afford to stage with! Santa Fe seems to be a very busy spot in the world as we drove around and around the area several times and couldn't find a parking place so we gave up and drove back to our home on wheels in Albuquerque. Enjoying our day, we knew we had just 'scratched the surface' of all the wonderful things there are to do in the area and vowed we will return again...someday.



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