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The River of Many Names

By Linda Tancs

It’s been called “the big river,” the “River of May,” the “river of our lady” and “the turbulent river.”  But it’s popularly known as the Rio Grande (Great River). Discovered at its mouth by Spanish conquistadores in 1519, it’s among the world’s longest rivers and the fourth or fifth longest in North America, somewhere between 1,800 and 1,900 miles long. It starts near the Continental Divide in the San Juan Mountains and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. In northern New Mexico the watercourse of the Great River follows a tectonic chasm. An amazing site bridging the depths of the resulting gorge is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge northwest of Taos. The steel deck arch bridge stands at 565 feet above the river, the seventh highest bridge in the United States. Enjoy the spectacular vista of the gorge from the bridge’s overlook.


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