Phyllis Eileen Banks
Last updated on Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Phyllis Eileen Banks
Phyllis Eileen Banks is both writer and artist. Her articles are currently appearing in Southern New Mexico Magazine and FYI, and she has written for New Mexico Magazine, Ranger Rick, Concern, Anchorage Daily News and other periodicals. In addition, with Cynthia Smith, she authored the Anchorage Fun Book.
Much of her experience has been as editor. Most recently, she has served as the editor of the Roswell Fine Arts League/New Mexico Miniature Arts Society. Her other editorial experience includes The Alaska Presbyterian, The Alaska Heart, newsletter of the Alaska HeartAssociation and the book COCAHNIA (Consultation on Church and Human Need in Alaska).
"I have invisible antennae that 'vibrate' when something doesn't seem right. Of course editing someone else's work is much easier than editing one's own," she says.
People stories, historical pieces and travel writing are her favorites. She and her husband, Hal, moved to New Mexico from Alaska.
"New Mexico has some of the same mystique of Alaska - wide open spaces, different cultures, so the transition was easy," says Eileen.
Find out more about Phyllis Eillen Banks recently published book Roaming Southern New Mexico by going to
Booklocker.com or send her an e-mail to reserve a copy, today.
Articles by Phyllis Eileen Banks
Alamogordo had its official beginning in June, 1898, when the El Paso and Northwestern Railroad, owned by Charles B. Eddy, reached the town. Mr. Eddy was very influential in the founding of Alamogordo. He planned a community with large wide thoroughfares and irrigation ditches lined with trees. The name of this community was derived from those trees. They were large cottonwoods and "Alamo Gordo" in Spanish translates to "fat cottonwood."
Alma, five miles north of Glenwood on U.S. 180, was a hideout for Butch Cassidy and his gang. when they worked for the W-S Ranch in the 1890s. It is said the gang members were good workers, and Cassidy was even offered a permanent job there. A post office existed from 1882 to 1896, then again from 1900 to1931. Mail now goes to Glenwood.
Alto, 800 population, 7,300 feet elevation, nine miles northwest of Ruidoso on NM Highway 48, was established with a post office in 1901, even though it was settled in 1882.
Postmaster W. H. Walker chose its name, Alto - Spanish for high. Eugene Manlove Rhodes was a cowboy writer who taught here in 1891 and 1892. However, it was known as Eagle Creek during those years. Now it is the home of artists, as well as merchants and businesses. Alto Village, a development with lovely homes, has its own golf course. The entrance to the Ski Apache slopes on Sierra Blanca Mountain is to the west on NM Highway 532 just as you enter Alto.
Few cities, towns, villages or individuals, without moving, find their address and even their country has changed. The towns named above are some of those few, because that is what happened to them. In 1853, the Gadsden Purchase changed the southern boundary of the U.S.
In 1903 when artesian wells were discovered, the town known as Stegman was renamed Artesia. Water spouted as high as twenty feet. Early settlers were attracted to this plentiful water supply and established an agricultural and farming community. Unfortunately the wells were allowed to flow unchecked and the water table dropped.
Now, however, in this city of 12,000, the water supply is continually replenished with runoff from the Sacramento Mountains about 90 miles to the west.
Originally Artesia was a part of John Chisum's ranching empire in the late 1870s. Today cattle and sheep ranching, alfalfa, cotton, chile and pecan farming are important staples of the economy. In addition, oil was discovered in 1924 and opened up the regional Permian Basin. The Navajo Refinery dominates the eastern side of U. S. Highway 285 as you enter the city.
Though it has a small sign to indicate its location, Pleasant Hill no longer has a post office.
Located on NM 77, only one mile from the Texas border in Curry County, it was organized in 1910. Originally it was a part of two ranches, the Brown and Shenault. Lee Barnes was fond of Pleasant Hill, Texas, and suggested that name at a meeting of local residents. During the early part of the 20th Century, this section of New Mexico was settled with hopeful homesteaders who sometimes paid only 10 cents an acre for land. Ranching is still the economic base.
The Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation headquarters is located in the town of Mescalero, on US 70 seventeen miles northeast of Tularosoa. Originally established on May 27, 1873 by Executive Order of President Ulysses S. Grant, the reservation was first located near Fort Stanton. The present reservation was established in 1883, covering 463,000 acres between the White and Sacramento mountains, all in Tribal Ownership status.
In 1937, some very farsighted conservationists realized the need to protect the nation's remaining wetlands. The Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge was one of those acquired during that period under the Department of the Interior and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Strategically located on the Great Plains of the Southwest, it is near the Pecos River east of Roswell. The water of the shallow lake is very brackish, too bitter to drink, and was so named by early cattlemen. It is fed year round by small springs but often goes dry during the hot summer months.
Anyone who has visited or will visit Carlsbad Caverns will pass through the settlement of White’s City, New Mexico. It is at the crossroads of U. S. Highway 62/180 and NM Highway 7, the highway into Carlsbad Caverns. Named for Charlie White from Kentucky who homesteaded south of Carlsbad about 1927, it began with a small store and service station and has expanded to a tourist center. Ironically the young cowboy who is credited with discovering the Caverns was also named White, although probably no relation to the White’s City family.
Blackwater Draw Locality No. 1, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the most important archeological sites in the New World. The Blackwater Draw Museum has wonderful displays of bones and artifacts to educate adults and children in the history of New Mexico as well as the New World.
When you say "Bosque Redondo" it has a melodious, pleasant sound, but the reality is just the opposite. It was the scene of one of the saddest events in the nation's history.
The lakes are bottomless in name only. None is more than ninety feet deep, but the illusion of great depth and the greenish blue color is created by algae and other aquatic plants covering the lake bottoms. In actuality, they are sink holes rather than lakes and range in depth from 17 to 90 feet. They were formed when circulating underground water dissolved salt and gypsum deposits to form subterranean caverns. Ultimately, the roofs of the caverns collapsed from their own weight to form the sink holes that soon filled with water. They are all quite small and only Lea Lake is large enough to support swimming and other water recreational activities. It is on the south end of the group, where the day use and camping areas are located.
Buckeye is located on NM Highway 238 seventeen miles southwest of Lovington. The settlement is named for the Buckeye Sheep Ranch nearby, and does not have a post office. Traveling this part of eastern New Mexico reinforces your awareness of the size of the state, fifth largest. There are so many miles of nothing but miles and miles.
Caballo is a town of people who want to live by Caballo Lake and Caballo Lake State Park, too few to warrant a population figure on New Mexico maps. Easily reached on N.M. 90, it sits approximately three miles east of Interstate 25, 15 miles south of Truth or Consequences. Named for the mountains and the likeness of a horse's head on the north end, it is home to year-round residents, snow birds, and the merchants who serve them..
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.
Every school age child has heard of Smokey Bear, but they may not know that Capitan, New Mexico, is his birthplace. In the aftermath of a disastrous fire in the Capitan Mountains, a four pound black bear was found on May 19, 1950, clinging to the trunk of a burned tree. The rangers named him Smokey. Ultimately he was taken to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and in June, 1950, he became the living symbol of Smokey Bear. When he died in 1976 he was returned to Capitan and buried at Smokey Bear Historical Park. The visitor's center includes exhibits about forest fires, a history of the fire prevention campaign and a theater. There are also educational computer games on fire prevention.
Carlsbad was originally christened Eddy about 1888 with a bottle of champagne. Long before that, around 25,000 B.C., its occupants were representatives of Sandia Man. Other nomadic hunters, including the Apache, followed hunting buffalo. Spanish explorers were next until the conquest by the United States which resulted in the Territory of New Mexico about 1850.
The name Carrizozo is derived from the Spanish name for reed grass, "carrizo." However, it seems some enterprising ranch foreman added another "zo" to indicate there was abundant reed grass. That became the town's name although it wasn't platted until 1907.
The native reed grass was an excellent feed for livestock on the ranches in the area prior to 1899, where small outfits ran cattle on Carrizozo flats in the upper end of the Tularosa Basin.
Cloudcroft, at an elevation of 8,650 feet, population 750, draws its name from its height: It is one of the highest towns in New Mexico. In 1899 Charles B. Eddy built a branch line of the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad to Cloudcroft from Alamogordo. The Railroad built a lodge for its workers which was also used as a summer resort for El Pasoans. The village grew around The Lodge. It burned in 1919 but was rebuilt and is still open, complete with the ghost of Rebecca. The nine-hole Lodge golf course at 9,200 feet is the highest in the state. It is said golfers are warned not to feed the bears on the ninth green.
The city's history goes back thousands of years earlier to the "Clovis Culture." In 1932, A. W. Anderson of Clovis first discovered evidence of human occupation about 11,000 years ago at the Blackwater Draw site. Now the Blackwater Draw Museum presents evidence of the remarkable "fluted" points (a New World invention) and other stone and bone weapons. They occur in association with extinct Pleistocene age megafauna such as mammoth, ancient bison, horse and large turtles. Recovered bones of these mastodon are also on display. A state museum, it is under the direction of Eastern New Mexico University at Portales and is located 12 miles southwest of Clovis on U. S. Highway 70.
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.
Christmas events occur in villages, towns and cities throughout Southern New Mexico. Christmas light parades, concerts, chorales, gallery open houses, home tours, 10K runs, a night light golf tourney, a hoedown, Dickens’ Christmas Carol, an 1872 gunfight re-enactment, the Last Great Cattle Drive, and a myriad of other events are available for your enjoyment. Where are they occurring?
What is known as the ghost hotel of the 80s?
If you're one of those persons who always wonders "where does that road go," and who likes the wide-open spaces of New Mexico, including sparse traffic and two lane roads, then discovering these seven hamlets is a pleasant adventure. From Roswell, take U.S. 285 south to Artesia, then U.S. 82 west. Hope, 21 miles west of Artesia, was settled about 1884 and was known as Badgerville or Badger because the settlers lived in dugouts. When the post office was established in 1890 it was called Hope. There are differing legends about the origin of the name.
His legendary fame was similar to that of Billy the Kid, except he was on the side of the law as sheriff, marshal, district attorney, school superintendent, and mayor. At age nineteen, he established his reputation as a quick draw with a deadly aim when he held 80 Texas cowboys at bay for thirty-six hours, killing four and wounding eight.
Eleven miles northeast of Alamogordo on U.S. 82 are the almost twin communities of High Rolls and Mountain Park. It is this part of the road that traverses several life zones after it leaves the Alamogordo area because it rises about forty-five hundred feet within sixteen miles. Before you reach High Rolls, there is a rest stop that provides a panoramic view to the west of White Sands and the Tularosa valley. Just east of this stop is the entrance to the only tunnel in New Mexico.
ENMU-Roswell is a comprehensive community college serving students in Roswell and beyond. Our students say Yes to success!
The modern, compact campus is the perfect setting for student success. Buildings are within easy walking distance and furnish students with both educational resources and quiet study areas. All buildings provide barrier-free access to individuals with disabilities.
As often happened when areas were settled, the date of founding is the same date a post office was established. Eunice is a case in point.
J. N. Carson from Shafter Lake, Texas circulated a petition in 1908 seeking a post office for the present-day location of Eunice. He had claimed 320 acres for homesteading by plowing a furrow around the boundaries. He then applied for a post office.
These six settlements lie within a 100 mile area, although few and far between. The Llano Estacado, the Staked Plains, beckoned many people to come west and homestead in the early years of the 20th century.
Little remains of Field, created by the consolidation of three rural schools. Located at the junction of NM 288 and 224, it isn't even indicated on the most recent map of New Mexico. The post office existed until 1924, but the mail now goes to Melrose.
Lincoln County at one time encompassed almost one-fourth of New Mexico and was the largest county in the United States. It was created January 16, 1869, by an act of the Territorial Legislature, and subsequently other counties were wrested from it. They were Chaves, Eddy, and Roosevelt, and portions of Curry, Guadalupe, Otero and Torrance. With a current population of 14,184 and covering 4,859 square miles, Carrizozo is the county seat, changed from Lincoln in 1909. Since its origin, the county has had a total of 70 post offices.
Located on the east bank of the Rio Grande, one mile southeast of Radium Springs, (Exit 18 off I-25) Fort Selden's post office was known as Fort Selden from 1866-1877, and again from 1881-1891 (the missing years from 1877 to 1881 indicate the Fort was temporarily abandoned, then permanently in 1990 when the railroad was built). Next it was known as Leasburg from 1891-1898, as Selden from 1911-1913, and as Fort Selden from 1913-1923. No post office exists there now.
The Civil War forced abandonment of Ft. Stanton in 1861, when the Confederate forces came into New Mexico. Retreating U.S. forces tried to burn the Fort, but were not successful because a rainstorm put out the fire. The Confederates did not stay long, as five companies of New Mexico volunteers took control of the Fort again in 1862, with Colonel Kit Carson as commander. In a state of disrepair because of the looting following the Civil War skirmish, only the stone walls stood.
The Fort Sumner Chamber of Commerce brochure that touts the community as the Pride of the Pecos contains another item not often seen on such brochures: "Attitude Friendly." Those words beckon you, inviting a visit.
Located on U. S. Highway 60 halfway between Albuquerque and Lubbock, Texas, 160 miles each way, old Fort Sumner was built in 1862. General James H. Carleton built the fort seven miles southeast of the present town at the Bosque Redondo (round wood or grove) as an Indian reservation for the Navajos and Apaches. These Native Americans were forced to leave their homes and walk 400 miles to the Fort, an episode in our history known as the "Long Walk." The post was named for General Edwin Vose Sumner who died as the new fort was being built. It is now a state monument, one of five in New Mexico.
Coincidences many times show us how connected our world really is. For example, "Ask Us" is a feature of Southern New Mexico Online to answer questions people have about New Mexico. Recently, an artist from Corrales, NM, sent an email of his experience in an art gallery in Kassel, Germany where he had an exhibit. During the opening, he relates, an elderly, shy man asked if he knew about Roswell, New Mexico. At first the artist thought he was referring to the UFO Incident but he hadn't even heard about it. Instead he was referring to being a WWII prisoner of war near Roswell. He explained he had never seen the town because he worked in the cotton fields south of town but it identified where he was held. When he left the gallery, he whispered, "Roswell," said the artist.
The Spanish gave this Anasazi village the name of Pueblo de Las Humanas (a thriving pueblo) when Oñate first approached it in 1598 to accept the oath of allegiance to Spain. Largest of the Salinas pueblos, it was occupied for nearly nine centuries, 800 A.D. to 1672 A.D. Later, Spaniards called it Gran Quivira, the object of Coronado's and Oñate's futile search for gold.
My husband and I were driving NM Highway 9 from El Paso to Rodeo early in March. When we came to Hachita, 45 miles west of Columbus, Hal, who is an incorrigible "wonder where that road goes," drove through the small village. In so doing, we discovered a most unique church, Saint Catherine of Sienna. It was locked, so we drove on and stopped at The Egg Nest for lunch. When we talked to the proprietor we asked about the church. He said, "If you want to see it, I have the key," then pointed out the copy of its history. Totally intrigued now, we borrowed the key and drove the few blocks back to the church.
Some of the 1,136 residents of Hatch might say "Chile Capital of the World." And of course, they are sure to point out that New Mexicans spell their chili with an e on the end instead of an i. According to the Roadside History of New Mexico, in 1988 the New Mexico State Legislature passed a facetious memorial threatening to deport to Texas any New Mexican caught using the word "chili."
The Historical Center for Southeast New Mexico, 200 North Lea Street, Roswell, New Mexico was constructed in 1910 and listed in the National Register of Historical Places. This stately home, once the residence of James Phelps White, houses the Museum. The yellow-brick home, with its gently sweeping rooflines and large porches, is an excellent example of the prairie-style house developed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is a reminder of turn-of-the-century life in Southeastern New Mexico.
Hobbs came into existence on January 28, 1910, with the opening of a post office named for the pioneering Hobbs family. For nearly two decades, the town remained isolated and inconvenient, a difficult place for settlers to wrest a living from the land.
All that changed, however, when the Midwest Refining Company (now Amoco) began drilling for oil near Hobbs on October 12, 1927. Soon the plains area was the stage for one of the great oil booms of the West. November 8, 1928, marked the No. 1 well's depth of 4,220 feet producing 700 barrels of oil per day.
Known as the Southeastern Gateway to the Land of Enchantment, the small town of Jal offers services for tourists passing through or for anyone wanting to call it home. Located 22 miles south of Eunice on New Mexico Highway 18 at the crossroads of New Mexico Highway 128, it is less than ten miles from the Texas border to the east. Kermit, Texas is 18 miles south.
Although Juan de Onate is credited with bringing the first cattle into New Mexico from old Mexico, it was John Chisum and men of his ilk who made the cattle industry an economic force in the 1860s.
I have heard six of the seven life zones are in New Mexico. What does that mean?
Folklore notes that the main street of Lincoln is 1,000 yards of museums. It is a corner of history that has been missed by the sweep of the 20th Century. Although a living community, it is also a National Historic Landmark. It still resembles the community it was in 1878 following the Lincoln County War. Buildings have been preserved and restored, including the courthouse where Billy the Kid made his famous escape. It is now operated by the New Mexico State Monuments, a division of the Museum of New Mexico that also owns other historic buildings in Lincoln.
The flora and the fauna come together in the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park at the north edge of Carlsbad, New Mexico, on U.S. Highway 285. It takes visitors through the diverse Chihuahuan Desert, the largest in North America, that spans Southeast New Mexico into the rugged terrain of the Guadalupe Mountains and Mexico. The Park is located on top of the Ocotillo Hills overlooking Carlsbad and the Pecos River valley.
Lovington became the county seat of Lea County when it was created from the eastern portions of Eddy and Chaves Counties in 1917. A man named Robert Florence Love, known by his middle name, was determined to establish a town where his homestead was located, the site of present-day Lovington. He filed for a post office permit under the name of Loving. However, it was denied as there was a settlement south of Carlsbad known as Loving. He changed the application name to Lovington, and the post office was established on September 12, 1908.
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.
For those who like to avoid the Interstates and travel the narrower, more quiet highways, New Mexico Route 28 is a lovely, relaxing trip. Begin your trek on this highway at Old Mesilla southwest of Las Cruces. The highway is east of the Rio Grande at this point, but a few miles south it crosses the great river and you are on the west side of it . . . Designated as the Oñate Trail, it is part of the route Don Juan de Oñate took into New Mexico 400 years ago.
Melrose, at 4,599 elevation and a population of 877, is a viable town, 18 miles east of Tolar. However, it was known as Brownhorn in 1882 because it was located between the Brown and Horn ranches. When repair shops were built for the Santa Fe Railroad, its officials named the town Melrose - supposedly after Melrose, Ohio.
Ranching is the economic mainstay of this region, with its sprinkler farming and livestock grazing. Cannon Air Force Base, 21 miles to the east, uses the Melrose Bombing Range for practice bombing and strafing. St. Vrain is eight miles further along Route 60, and came into being in 1907. The community, though small, believes the town was named for the early guide and explorer Ceran St. Vrain. He was also a Colonel in the First New Mexico Volunteer Infantry. All that remains of Grier, five miles from St. Vrain, is a grain elevator and a few houses. Another of the farming communities that sprang up overnight when the railroad was being constructed, it had a post office from 1921 to 1956.
Nine miles north of Crossroads on NM 206 is another settlement at another crossroads, Milnesand. The first store was opened in 1910 by Mrs. Lillian Curl. Settlers from Texas and Oklahoma had arrived around 1913 and homesteaded in the area. In 1915, Mrs. Curl became the first postmistress. A merchant named Parker had a Model T chain driven truck, and he hauled freight between Milnesand and Portales. He would also take passengers at $5 each per trip. The unusual name, Milnesand, is due to the deep sandy soil and windmills on a nearby ranch; hence, it was called Mill-in-sand.
Museums are history lessons for those who have lived through that history and those who are too young to have experienced it. When you see how our ancestors lived it doesn't give credence to the term "the good ole days." It is, however, a window through which we can view the past. The Roswell Museum and Art Center provides that window in the Rogers Aston Gallery of American Indian and Western Art. That art includes clothing worn, implements, tools and other artifacts used during that era.
Located two miles off U. S. Highway 54 to the east, this large eight-room railroad depot displays the history of a thriving town's brief life and economic demise. It was built in 1902, the same year Ancho was established.
Prior to 1922, if you entered New Mexico via US 54 from El Paso (if that road existed then), Newman was the first outpost, located on the New Mexico/Texas state line. It was a railroad stop and trading post, named for L. E. Newman. He was a Texas real estate man who sold building sites here. The post office existed from 1906-1922. Originally the settlement was called Longhorn, then Hereford, then Newman. Very little came of the development, and the site was moved to El Paso County, Texas. One source says the post office closed in 1914. One wonders which report is correct. Archeologists believe it was the site of a prehistoric Indian pueblo.
Some towns in Southern New Mexico are so small they are scarcely noticed. Nevertheless they exist and have histories. Nogal, four miles off U. S. 370 on NM 37 and eight miles southeast of Carrizozo, is one.
Known as Dry Gulch in 1879 when gold was discovered, then Galena, then Parsons, for a miner in 1892 and finally to Nogal. As often happened in the mining areas, when the ore played out the town dwindled or died. Nogal didn't die, although the large hotel that once lodged miners and others is no longer there. Many homes dot the hills, and there are churches and a few businesses - a tiny community content in its peaceful existence.
Organ is fifty-two miles southwest of Alamogordo on US 70/82, another isolated stretch of highway. With a population of about 500, it is also eleven miles northeast of Las Cruces. Listed as “Old and New,” The Place Names of New Mexico by Robert Julan indicates it had a post office from 1881-1895, then again from 1896 to the present. Millions of dollars worth of lead, copper and silver were mined in the camp at the foothills of the Organ Mountains, where as many as 1,800 people lived. The older ranching residents did not take part in the mining operations because they did not have the capital or inclination to mine. Eventually the mines played out, and “old” Organ died. Later “new” Organ was born, and is today a living community. Many of its residents work in Las Cruces or on the White Sands Missile Range. On February 29, 1908, the infamous Pat Garrett was murdered on the road between Organ and Las Cruces. The circumstances surrounding his death remain a mystery.
Sometimes extraordinary effects or circumstances spring from ordinary events. Such has been the case with Roswell photographer Bruce Gaucher, who gave his wife a camera he wanted for Christmas about five years ago. He had no idea that act would lead to his becoming a landscape/nature photographer who would inspire awe with his pictures.
Spring waters gushing from a series of caves shaped like porches across a hacienda home gave Portales its name. It is also a door to human history with the discovery of artifacts and skeletons of mastodons dating back 11,000 years. Originally it was known as "Los Portales," portals to the Southwest United States.
Space of all kinds surround Roswell. Wide open spaces, Robert H. Goddard's space experiments, and the crash of a UFO. Has the beginning of space exploration here been overshadowed with all the hype of the UFO crash in 1947? Probably. At the Houston Space Center and Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center, Robert Hutchings Goddard is known as the Father of Space Exploration.
Now in its 38th year, the Roswell Symphony Orchestra's 60 members come from all the major cities within a 200-mile radius of Roswell: Lubbock, Amarillo, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, El Paso, Portales, Alamogordo, the states of Texas and Colorado, and, of course, Roswell.
The above other-worldly tag was superimposed on Roswell with the 50th Anniversary of the Roswell Incident in July of 1997. But there's so much more.
Roswell is the seat of Chaves County, population 58,000, and the fourth largest city in the state; its population is 48,500 and its elevation is 3,649 on average. The city lies at the west edge of the Llano Estacado (Staked Plains) and east of El Capitan Mountain, in the rich and fertile Pecos Valley, a place of relaxed pace and friendly people.
Ruidoso is a place without pretentions and a unique village. A mountain town at 7,000 feet, it is located on U.S. Highway 70. The population numbers about 8,000, more on weekends in the winter when skiers come to town, and up to twenty-five or thirty thousand on summer weekends during horse racing season.
Place Names of New Mexico by Robert Julyan indicates there are 36 places in New Mexico where St. Anthony is mentioned. However, San Antonio at the junction of US 380 and one mile east of I-25 is the only one listed on the current New Mexico map. It is located ten miles south of Socorro and ten miles north of the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge.
Santa Teresa is a young community at the junction of New Mexico Highways 278 and 9. It is about four miles north of the Mexico border, practically adjacent to Sunland Park, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. It consists primarily of residences in a gated community, although there are three or four churches nearby.
Does Sunland Park, just outside El Paso, Texas bring to mind horse racing? It is much more than that. It is not in Texas, either, but in New Mexico. Until 1960 this area was known as Anapra, where Don Juan de Onate crossed from the east side of the Rio Grande into New Mexico in the 1500s. Robert Julyan in The Place Names of New Mexico states, "Despite the complexity of postal dates and postal names, this longtime inhabited community . . . has preserved its separate identity despite its proximity to an industrial area of El Paso and to the Sunland Park complex . . ." Located just west of the junction of NM 273 and NM 498, the name is explained as meaning "this side of the river."
When a town is small with no visible attractions on the main highway, reasons to cause people to stop for a while, it becomes a place on the way to . . . . Tatum is 21 miles to Lovington to the south on New Mexico Road 206 or 73 miles west to Roswell or 15 miles east to Texas on U. S. Highway 380.
Tatum, population 768, elevation 3,986, was founded in 1909 by James G. Tatum when he filed on a homestead of 320 acres and opened a general store. There was no post office, so as a service to his customers he brought mail three times a week from Scott, another settlement, no longer in existence. Eventually Tatum was granted a post office, and Mattie G. Tatum was the first postmistress.
What is a flume, you may ask? According to the dictionary, it is a narrow
gorge with a stream flowing through it, usually, or an artificial channel or
chute for a stream of water. The latter describes the Flume at
Carlsbad, New Mexico.
Irrigation was a necessity for the arid Southwest as it couldn't depend on
rainfall and snow for moisture to grow crops. For centuries Native Americans and
Hispanic peoples regularly watered small fields with canal networks, acequias
and brush diversion dams.
Events always have a precursor and the Gadsden Purchase is
no exception. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848, ended
the war with Mexico. It confirmed U.S. claims to Texas and set its boundary at
the Rio Grande. Mexico also agreed to cede to the United
States, California and New Mexico. This included what is now California,
Arizona, Nevada and Utah as well as parts of New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.
The purchase price was $15 million and assumption by the United States of claims
against Mexico by U. S. citizens. The U. S. Senate ratified it on March 10, 1848
and the Mexican Congress on May 25.
These five villages or settlements aren't even mentioned in a New Mexico cities list or in the Secretary of State's Blue Book that gives vital information about the state. Obviously, their populations are minuscule but they are all located in one of the loveliest valleys of Southeastern New Mexico, the Hondo.
Driving through them on U. S. 70/380 in the spring, the fruit trees, primarily apple and pear, are bursting with blossoms. After the growing season, you will see roadside stands where you can buy vine-ripened fruit. In the fall, the leaves in many shades of yellow delight the eye. It is a scenic drive at any time of the year.
A sequence of events can occur in the most unexpected
ways. An article titled “Folklore of Lincoln County Post Offices” brought an
e-mail from two sisters in Indiana who were working on their family geneology.
The thread that wove New Mexico and Indiana together was that their great
grandmother had been one of the postmasters of Lincoln County in the early
Although family oral history isn’t always totally
reliable, Judith P. Hamilton and Kathy Anderson Goins thought their great
grandmother had been postmaster (no gender quarrel in those days) in the late
1800s. However, Jim White of Farmington, NM, considered the state historian of
post offices, found that Frances Baca Walters, born in 1855, became postmaster
on November 16, 1901.
I recently received a silver Zia pin as a gift and was told that it was not only the state symbol for New Mexico but it had a story as to its significance in Indian mythology . . . Can you help with the full explanation . . . ?
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.
Although Tularosa derives its name from the Spanish word tule meaning reeds or cattails, City of Roses is much more appealing and conjures up the picturesque town that Tularosa is.
Original settlers in the 1860s came from washed-out villages on the Rio Grande near Mesilla. Due to frequent raids by the Apaches from what is now the Mescalero/Apache Reservation, occupation was untenable and the site was abandoned.
The Valley of Fires, four miles west of
Carrizozo on U. S. 380 is one of the youngest
and best preserved lava fields in the continental United States. Yet it is
little publicized. It was established as a State Park in 1966 but is now
administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Known also as the
Carrizozo Malpais (badlands), it was formed between 1500 and
2000 years ago when Little Black Peak erupted pouring molten lava for forty-four
miles southwest through the valley. It isn't a volcano per se since the lava
flowed via vents, burying almost everything in its path. One hundred sixty-five
feet deep at the thickest point, the formation is between two and five miles
Ghost Towns hold a fascination for many people and White Oaks, New Mexico, is one that has been rediscovered by some artisans. One can see signs of new residents, as well.
Gold discovery in 1879 marked the beginning of the town. How gold was first discovered was probably a once-in-a-lifetime incident. According to Roadside History of New Mexico, John Wilson was an escapee from a Texas prison. On his way west, he stopped near the Jicarilla Mountains on the west side of White Oaks to visit Jack Winters and Harry Baxter, two of his friends. He headed to the top of the mountain with a pick, stating he was going to find gold.
Why retire in Roswell? Let me count the reasons. Lots of sunshine all through the year with little humidity. Lots of sunshine all through the year with little humidity. Light snowfalls once or twice during the winter, except when Mother Nature throws us a curve as in December of 1997, probably referred to in the future as the Winter of 97. Affordable housing from starter houses to top-of-the-line. Many people have retired here from California. After selling their homes there and buying here they have money left on which to live.
The words in bas-relief over the door of the school house read "WPA 1936." A breeze blows through the paneless windows and weeds grow where there once was a playground. This school at Claunch, New Mexico was once a symbol of the 1930s and the efforts of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to bring the United States out of the Great Depression.
The first little dot on the map of Route 60 when you enter DeBaca County from the west is Yeso. It's described in one book as "an impressive ruin of numerous well-constructed stone houses." Its beginning was involved with the establishment of the railroad. Though it survived a drought between 1909 and 1912 and the 1919 flu epidemic, the Great Depression and the Second World War caused its demise.