Like San Felipe, the Sandia Pueblo community holds more land than it can improve. The large Mexican town of Bernalillo presses upon the north side of its tract of 24,187 acres, In 1824 the Indians of the pueblo gave the land on which the town stands, but no patent of this transaction is inexistence. Sales are consummated in the town and await confirmation, Passing 1,200 acres of open land, here and there developing weak traces of alkali, left as a pasture open to the use of the town, cultivation begins half a mile from the pueblo. The acequia, at a high level, is supplied from a source 2 miles above.
Bernalillo lies just south of the line of the ranches of Santa Ana. The water flows for 6 miles before it is utilized, most of the forming being done south. of the pueblo. I found the governor alone setting a worthy example to his people, working in the mud to his knees at the point where the Rio Grande forms a junction with his ditch. The office of governor, he informed me, after he had gained solid ground and had reduced the weight of his legs by kicking off the chunks of clay, was an honorary one, yet so exacting in its demands as to compel a neglect of one’s own interest by any who accept the preferment. The pueblo is prettily situated on a gentle rise front the bottom lands of the river. Most of the course, of the acequia is sheltered by large cottonwood trees. Grape culture becomes here an industry, though corn and wheat are the staple crops. The land upon the left side of the river only is cultivated. The sand hills rise abruptly from the right bank. On this side, some distance below where the land assumes a lower level, a few Mexicans have established themselves, and cultivate small plots of vegetables. The efforts to raise water to the height necessary to command this land were so commendable that the Indians approved its occupancy by them. A boom was made upon a small arm of the river, which forced the water upon an undershot wheel fitted with buckets. Water was raised and started in the acequia, at a height of 10 feet.
Between the junction and the pueblo several large tracts of island land, now covered by groves of cottonwood and willows, could be made available for tillage. The level of these islands is 6 feet above the water; and no evidence of inundation is observable. There are 700 acres in the upper island and as much below, but less wooded.