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Cruzville, Apache Creek, Aragon and Old Horse Springs — NM Hwy12 from Reserve to Datil

By Phyllis Eileen Banks

Last updated on Monday, December 30, 2002

Scene along NM Highway 12 between Apache Creek and Datil. Photo by Phyllis Eileen Banks . Photo by Phyllis Eileen Banks
Scene along NM Highway 12
A broad spectrum of scenery awaits the traveler who takes New Mexico Highway 12 through Reserve north to Datl. Though sparsely settled there are sheep, cattle and horse ranches throughout the four settlements along this area, Cruzville, Apache Creek, Aragon and Old Horse Springs.

Cruzville, named for the Cruz family who no longer live there, is nine miles northeast of Reserve. It was a settlement in the Apache National Forest among the pine, fir and spruce trees. The New Mexico map lists it but there is no post office.

Apache Creek is three miles northeast of Cruzville and is a settlement where Apache Creek and the Tularosa River meet. It had a post office from 1928-58, but mail now goes to Aragon. This is an area where Apache tribe leaders Mangas Coloradas, Victorio, Geronimo, Chato and Cochise carried on their guerilla warfare. Originally it is said they were friendly to the explorers and colonists but when their lands and water were taken over by the pioneers they fought back. The warfare was finally curbed after the surrender of Geronimo in 1886.

There is a five mile hike through Lee Russel Canyon from NM Hwy 32 to Apache Creek where archeologists have found colorful agates and potsherds. They are from the cookware of prehistoric Indians and of the Chiricahua Apaches who hid out here in the1880s. One mile north of Apache Creek Store and a further three-mile walk up Apache Creek is a waterfall.

Aragon, seven miles farther northeast of Apache Creek at an altitude of 7,135 feet, is a trading center in the Tularosa Valley. The post office was known as Joseph from 1887 to 1898 and 1901 to 1906. Since 1906 it has been known as Aragon, named for a local family who still live there. It is a picturesque village set among lovely old trees surrounded by small irrigated farms. On the north side of Tularosa Canyon, a cave was occupied from 400 B.C. to A.D. l100, containing pits and later masonry rooms. Fort Tularosa was built in 1870 and housed the Apache Indian Agency. After the Indians were moved from the Fort back to the Ojo Caliente reservation in 1874 the Fort was abandoned. The only remaining evidence is a burial ground for soldiers who served in the Arizona Territory.

Before arriving at Old Horse Springs, 20 miles northeast of Aragon, the traveler crosses the Continental Divide at 7500 feet, the point at which all rivers flow west on the west side and all rivers flow east on the east side. The descent then begins into the Plains of San Agustin. Old Horse Springs is a settlement with a post office from 1879-82, mail to Socorro from 1922 to the present. The story is told its name originated when some soldiers traveling from Fort Tularosa to Socorro lost a horse. They found it on the way back at the springs that bubble out of the ground approximately ½ mile west of the settlement. The original community of Horse Springs is now labeled Old Horse Springs and is two miles west of New Horse Springs. The 28 miles to Datil is through rolling hills with no more settlements along the way.

This scenic route from Lordsburg to Socorro through this southwestern part of New Mexico is worth the extra time it takes because there is little traffic and the beauty of the landscape makes it a memorable trip.

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