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New Mexico in Pictures Reveals Velda Brotherton’s Story Worlds

Velda Brotherton takes us on a tour to New Mexico today in photos...related to a polished third-person memoir of Edna Smith Hiller...told in "Fly With The Mourning Dove" and her wild, fun romance novel just re-published by Authors Guild..."Images in Scarlet." (All photos courtesy of Velda Brotherton.)


Authors Den

Buy "Images in Scarlet" here... and buy Fly with the Mourning Dove here.

Velda's website

Velda's blog 1

Velda's blog 2

Documentary video (highly recommended!)


Today, the Tusas ranch in New Mexico is on land where Edna originally lived in "Fly With The Mourning Dove". It remains a working ranch where horses and cattle graze the high country through the summer months before being transferred to Antonito, Colorado where the other ranch is located. Her father bought the Colorado ranch in 1949. In those days the cattle were driven on the trail, now they are transported by semi-trailer trucks. Edna continues to manage both ranches at the age of 94.

Tusas River Ranch

Tusas River Ranch

Tusas River crossing at ranch: The opening paragraph of Fly With The Mourning Dove speaks of this bridge:

?In this, my ninetieth year, I've returned once again to the New Mexico ranch I'll forever call home. To this day, I get a thrill out of topping the hill between the sagebrush flats and the Tusas River valley. In the early light of dawn, the adobe house waits in the shadows far below, and I hurry to reach it, the car's tires clattering over the wooden bridge that spans the Tusas river. I park, get out and move through the yard. Over the
Sangre de Cristos, the sky is splashed with a brilliant glow that spreads crimson over the mountains.


Ranch horses Some of the horses that pasture on the high desert at Tusas during the summer. They had been brought down to help with the roundup of cattle.


Ranch In Snow

1940s My mother took this photo from the highway above the ranch. This is much how the homestead appeared during the winter months. Edna's mother Cassie lived there for an entire winter alone, with only a cat and a horse for company while Edna's father worked for the narrow gauge railroad because they needed money to keep going. Edna was with her grandparents in South Dakota.

Rio Grande River

Rio Grande River

Rio Grand River cuts down from the north through the center of New Mexico. The narrow gauge railroad from Colorado to Santa Fe, New Mexico ran alongside the river with stops such as Taos Junction, where Edna and her family detrained to take a wagon to their first homestead in Fly With The Mourning Dove.


Galardia commonly known as Indian Blanket carpets much of the high desert, growing from crevices and apparently from rocks. Though I've tried for years I can't get the flower to grow in our lush and wet Arkansas Ozarks.


Narrow gauge Railroad from Antonito, CO to Chama, New Mexico Today a narrow gauge railroad takes tourists on a breathtaking ride through the San Juan Mountains. It would be much like that first trip taken by Edna, Cassie and Finas Smith in Fly With The Mourning Dove



Cerrillos, (Little Hills) New Mexico on the Turquoise Trail, once known as the capitol of New Mexico This would have been a thriving turquoise town during the time of the book, Images In Scarlet after the Civil War. When we visited during researching in the late nineties, little was left but one small business that sells gems from the mining past.

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7 Responses »

  1. Loved the photos, Velda. They seem to exude feelings of loneliness, spaciousness and quiet, which is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of city life most of us are used to. Your descriptions of each picture blends for a nice read on Janet's Riehl Life Blog.

    Thanks for sharing, both of you!


  2. Beautiful pictures, Velda. It is interesting to see the photos of New Mexico. I can't imagine Edna's mother spending a winter alone on the ranch. How did she keep from going stir-crazy?

    Thanks Velda and Janet!


  3. Hello to two familiar writers following my tour. Gayle, all I can say is, read the book. Seriously, she was quite a woman. A city girl who loved her husband so much she gave up much of her life for him. Edna talks often about how her mother finally came to love the peace of living on the ranch and in the end couldn't be coaxed from it.
    Linda Apple is posting more about Edna and the ranch life on her blog next week. Keep following and thanks.

  4. These photos make me homesick for New Mexico, and I live here!

    Yesterday I took a 4-year old and a 5-year old to Rancho de las Golondrinas (Ranch of the Swallows,) a Spanish settlement from the 1700s not far from Santa Fe. We went on a Josefina tour, based on the Josefina story in the American Girls series. The Josefina books are actually derived from the life of a fictional girl living there at Golondrinas.

    What struck me in looking at these photos is that in many ways, life wasn't so different then than it was in Edna's and her mother's time: isolation, unremitting work, sometimes a teetering on the edge. We've always been so removed from the rest of the U.S., and life has never been easy in our unforgiving land.

    But there is that physical beautiful in NM that catches the soul, and there is the romance of life in the past, and there is the joy in carrying on a way of life and tradition. These photos capture that beautifully.

  5. Great job Velda and Janet. I love the pictures of New Mexico. They are gorgeous. What a fascinating story about Edna's mother spending the winter in the cabin by herself. Being alone and snowed in had to be hard. Thank sharing Edna’s story with us.

  6. Dear Velda,
    I've caught a couple of stops on your tour, loving the lyrical writing of the Prologue and Chapter One and now putting the place in my visual as well as mind's eye. I know New Mexico fairly well as it was my husband's home and still is for many relatives. Stephanie's eloquent entry adds to your powerful writing about the lonesomeness, beauty and soulfulness of the area. I would add that the light in Northern NM nourishes my soul with joy and beauty on each visit...I'll be returning in Aug. and in late Oct. as I undertake a quest to follow my recently widowed heart.
    Thank you for your words and pictures. Arletta

  7. It wonderful to hear from so many old and new friends on this tour. I've especially enjoyed the comments. Hope you enjoy the remainder of the tour this week and join me August 4 for the posting of the names of the winners of books and the silver and turquoise ring.

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