Ponderosa was es­tablished in 1768 when the Ojo de San Jose Land Grant was given to Paulin Montoya and five other families. The grant lands eventually supported two communities on the Rio Vallecitos, which were known at first as Upper Vallecitos and Lower Vallescitos,

Upper Vallecitos was also known as Vallecitos de los Indios. Lower Valleci­tos, was referred to as Santo Toribio del Vallecito in 1778 records. However, when they wanted a post office, they had to pick another name because Vallecitos was already taken elsewhere in the state, and they chose Ponderosa.

The Ponderosa Bar & Grill recently closed after 50+ years in business. It billed itself as the oldest watering hole in the Jemez, opened in 1948, which puts it in close running with Los Ojos in Jemez Springs, whose sign says it was estab­lished in 1947. (However, Los Ojos is in a much older building.)

One of the four mission churches in the valley is located in Ponderosa. Named for St. Turibius of Lima, Peru, the current Santo Toribio Catholic Church was built in 1950.

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Ponderosa Post Office in 2005. Photo by Judith Isaacs.


The tiny post office opened in 1933. It is open only half days M-F. The postmistress lives next door.