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Luna — holding on to history

By Phyllis Eileen Banks

Last updated on Monday, December 30, 2002

Luna, New Mexico. Photo by Phyllis Eileen Banks
Luna, New Mexico. Photo by Phyllis Eileen Banks
Just eight miles from the Arizona border on U.S. Highway 180 is the small mountain village of Luna, New Mexico on the San Francisco River. This area was in the vast sheep ranching realm of Don Solomon Luna in the 19th Century. He was a powerful political force in New Mexico, and the settlement took his name.  Later Mormon ranchers from Utah settled in the area.  Today there are 62 families and 165 full-time citizens living in Luna, according to the Granary Gazette.

The post office was established in 1886 and continues to this day, housed in the Luna Mercantile which was built in 1883. The Mercantile is a center of activity, with the post office, a gift shop and a restaurant that’s open from April 1 through Halloween.

The restaurant is called the Granary Café and the hours are generally from 11 a.m. to about 8 or 9 p.m. for the seven months it is open. Originally the area where the café is located stored the granary for the community, thus the café’s name. It is owned by Susie and Larry Jones, who publish a Restaurant Edition of the Granary Gazette, with menus, ads and interesting trivia.

The heading says it was established in 1885, and it is the B.S. Edition, Vol. IV. The masthead states “Published every century with the news of Luna and Catron County by Granary Gazette, P O Box 120, Luna, NM 87824. News Items: No news is good news. Papers are never delivered but always on sale at The Granary.” The menu offers a broad variety of food at reasonable prices and very different spelling of well-known appetizers, e.g., zoo-key-nee; hell-o-pee-no; walk-o-moly dip.

Susan Ley is the post mistress and is also an artist.  She pointed out that the shutters on the building are the original ones.  The large room as you enter the building has a wood burning stove in the center. The stove was built in the 1930s by the man who runs the service station.  Made of cam shafts and truck rims, “It’s not pretty but it sure is warm,” explained one of the local residents.  The heat felt good after the chill of the spring morning.

The community has rodeo grounds where a parade, rodeo and dance are held on the Saturday closest to July 24 to celebrate Mormon Day.  Luna is a community that has held on to its history, making it a part of the living present.  

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