Sierra County Guide
Last updated on Thursday, February 20, 2003
The very curvy sixteen mile stretch of N.M. 90/152 from Caballo to Hillsboro rises from the Rio Grande Valley to over 5,180 feet in the Black Range mountains. The Box Canyon on this road was used by Apaches to hide and wait for freighters and stage coaches. Flash floods were so dangerous that businessmen in Hillsboro and Kingston strung telegraph wires between the two towns to warn travelers on the highway.
Elephant Butte State Park is the state's largest park, with camping, boating, and fishing on the 43 mile long reservoir. Three marinas, numerous marine service and storage facilities along with restaurants, a golf course and lodging facilities serve the many folks who use the lake.In January 1598, Don Juan de Oñate set forth with an expedition to colonize the lands of New Mexico. Eighty-three wagons carried munitions, supplies and food for 400 men, some soldiers, some colonists. One hundred families, eight priests and two lay brothers accompanied them. Seven thousand head of livestock, grapevine cuttings, seeds and tools were brought to help settlers survive and establish new homes.
By It has been written that behind every great personal fortune lies a crime, and there is probably no better illustration of that adage than the cattle empires of the Old West. New Mexico's territorial days offer a number of such illustrations, but perhaps none better than the story of the Lyons and Campbell Ranch and Cattle Company of the Gila River country and beyond.
Angus Campbell, a Scotsman, came to New Mexico from California after gold-rushing with his parents. He discovered what became the Gosette Mine on Lone Mountain in the late 1870s, established a foundry in Silver City, and went into business with Thomas Lyons, an Englishman who had recently arrived in the Territory from Wisconsin. The partnership prospered, but the two decided that the future was in cattle and in 1880 sold their mine and foundry and began to acquire land and cattle. The "LC," as the company was popularly known, began its climb from modest ranch to cattle empire, and its holdings at the turn of the century stretched from Silver City west to Arizona and from Mule Creek south to Animas - more, it was said, than five hundred thousand acres.
“These waters, they soothe me. I could stay here." With those words, hope dangled before a New Mexico frontier wracked with Indian wars. Though not within his traditional homeland of southeastern Arizona, Cochise, the venerated and feared Chiricahua Apache leader, liked what Ojo Caliente offered . . . sanctuary and soothing waters to mollify his spirit and body.
Unfortunately, in spite of evidence that the Apache had used Ojo Caliente for generations and that they were willing to settle there peacefully, the U.S. government failed to see the benefits of establishing a permanent reservation. In fact, the Chiricahua were one of the few Apache tribes in the Southwest that did not get their own reservation. The White Mountain Apache, the Jicarilla and the Mescalero all received at least some portion of their traditional homeland as a reservation. Only the Chiricahua were forever banished from the land so dear to them. They were shipped far away to prisons in Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma, never to threaten the Southwest again. One has to wonder if the relocation could have been avoided if only the government had made good on its promise to allow the Chiricahua to live at Ojo Caliente.
T or C was chartered in 1916 as Hot Springs. In 1950, it became Truth or Consequences in response to Ralph Edwards' request that a town in America take on the television game show's namesake. Edwards still makes an appearance every May to celebrate the change.
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, universally called T or C, is the third name for that city. When it was first settled it was called Palomas Springs, so named because of the large number of doves (palomas) residing in the cottonwood trees along the Rio Grande.
In the early 1800s the area west of the river was considered a neutral place where all Indian tribes could bring their sick or wounded to soak in the healing springs. At that time, the springs were actually mud bogs. The original springs are located next to the Geronimo Springs Museum, named for the famed Apache leader who visited. Bath houses are located in several places within the community for those who want to test the healing waters now.
Over half-a-million visitors a year enjoy the world's largest gypsum dune field at White Sands National Monument in Southern New Mexico. The sparkling white dunes are ever-changing, ever-moving and ever-growing
Where does the gypsum originate? It is constantly added to the dunes from its source in Lake Lucero. Comparatively few visitors see the ten-square-mile lake bed, even though it is part of the monument, and, with a little planning, is accessible to everyone.
That's my usual telephone conversation with relatives from the north on winter weekends. In its quieter months, Elephant Butte Reservoir, New Mexico's largest lake, offers solitude and clarity that summer users will never know. The bright, clear sun, the mirrored lake surface, the warm, still air, describe many days throughout the winter months.