Saturday, October 31, 2015

Corrizozo, New Mexico, Lava Fields and Ghost Towns

October 25 - 26, 2015:

It was one of our shortest moves today of 30 miles to the Valley of Fire BLM Recreation Area in Corrizozo, New Mexico.  It’s a popular campground with about 12 Electric and water sites.  It overlooks the huge Malvais lava flow, 44 miles long by 2 - 5 miles wide, covering 127 square miles. it is one of the most recent lava flows in the country estimated to have been active from 1,500 to 5,000 years ago.   The Lava came out of the ground from vents and the flow covers the entire vast valley floor.  There is an easy 3/4 mile loop trail around the lava field and it is very scenic.


Campground view

The Lava piles up very high in places

View from the trail

Striking a pose

I had another destination in the area to find, the “No scum allowed Saloon” in the ghost town of White Oaks.  It was an interesting ride of about 15 miles across open range land to White Oaks.  It is a really cool hangout, in the middle of nowhere, but they do have live bands on some weekends.  The Bartender and a local patron there were very friendly.  The main building where the bar is is original from 1881 when it was a lawyers office.  The building then went through many hands and many different uses.  It seems to be the only bar for about 25 miles and appears to cater to bikers.

The front of the "no scum allowed saloon"

The bar top has been branded

A fire was going in the stove, it felt real nice

White Oaks was originally a gold and silver mining town and in the late 1800’s was the 2nd largest town in New Mexico, with 2,500 people, today there are only 26 residents left.  The gold and silver didn’t last long and when the railroad bypassed the town, the glory days quickly ended.  A few impressive buildings remain, but I saw nothing to draw a crowd and they don’t seem to be promoting themselves much.

Old victorian mansion looks out of place today

Old store sitting all alone these days

The old school is still in good condition

Another old mansion on the hillside

Beautiful remote drive to get to White Oaks

Corrizozo seems to have started as a small settlement of no account, White Oaks was then the main town and the county seat.  That changed as the railroad came along.  White Oaks got greedy and increased their land values which prompted the railroad to route the railroad through Corrizozo instead.  In a few years Corrizozo became larger, a major railroad town and became the county seat.  Corrizozo like most small towns is struggling today, but they have a small arts district that shows promise.  There are several old vacant buildings crying to be renovated in this area.

Corrizozo billboard showing the sights of Lincoln County

Unfortunately the classic ice cream parlor was closed
for the season

The old Lyric Theater needs help

Arts district is showing some signs of hope

This needs to be saved soon

Cowboys still ride here

Corrizozo Museum in old frozen food locker building

Corrizozo information booth

The Outpost also closed

We took a ride which unknowingly to us went through a couple of ghost towns.  We started going to White Oaks and continued through town and onto a route 72 which was mostly all dirt road.  It went up into a beautiful forested area passing through the ghost towns of Jicarello, and Ancho.  Jicarilla was a mining town and the old school house remains. The town of Ancho once had a large Gypsum plant, now totally gone.  It is on the railroad and has a great train depot that actually appears to be in good condition with an old Semaphore signal in near perfect condition.  New Mexico has lots of ghost towns, but most are picked clean or privately owned with serious "No Trespassing" signs.

The Jicariilo school house

Old mining assay office

The Ancho train depot

Once in a while, you can catch a decent sunset in the area.

A fine ending to the day

Next stop is San Antonio, New Mexico;
Twinkles and Slick

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ruidoso, New Mexico

October 22 - 24, 2015:

We were very happy to see some sunshine in the morning, no reports of flooded roads and a decent weather forecast.  The drive was mostly on route 54 south which was a beautiful drive through wide open range land.  The clouds were incredible at times, quite distracting. I stopped at the almost ghost town of Duran, NM on route 54 to check out an interesting building across the railroad tracks.  I found out latter through an excellent "City of Dust blog site" that it was originally a general store and hotel with a sinister history.  It was the scene of an armed hookup and murder in 1921 which resulted in the four perpetrators being hung.  We can’t seem to get away from towns with rail lines, been following them all year.  We go off onto routes 380-38-47 approaching Carrizozo and Ruidoso and start climbing in altitude.  In fact there are pockets of snow along the road and snow on the mountain peaks in the distance.

I can't get enough of these western vistas

The scene of the murder is now watching 

I felt like I could reach up and touch the clouds

We pull into the Little Creek RV Park where we plan to stay for three nights, it’s a full hookup site for a change and is a very nice campground. A nice laundry, showers and good that WiFi works for us. 

The town of Ruidoso is not quite what I expected, the downtown area is not old, historic or very attractive.  It appears that to this point they have just let the developers go wild.  The downtown is a tourist haven however with many shops and restaurants.  There is the nearby Apache Ski area to attract the Ski crowd and two Casino’s for the gambling crowd and the surrounding country is beautiful.  This is one of the fastest growing areas in the state.

Welcome to Ruidoso

Voted best bar in town ?

Everything began here with the Mill

The Mill wheel arrangement is impressive

Carved bears are popular with the tourists in Ruidoso

Twinkles would not sit in the chair

I liked the sign

It was time to get Twinkles arm cast changed, to a shorter one, as the long one is really driving her “Nuts”.  As Ruidoso seems to have no urgent care places we first go to the Hospital Emergency Room.  They can not do it and refer us to the Bone and Joint Institute nearby where Twinkles luckily gets in without an appointment.  After X-rays, they change the cast to a more comfortable shorter one which will be removed completely in Phoenix Arizona in mid November.

We learned about the Lincoln Historic Site, about 25 miles away, which is regarded as one to the most authentic and best preserved towns in the west.  It was also one of the most violent towns in the west as it was the site of the Lincoln County Wars.  This area was settled by the Mexicans in the 1850’s who called it ”La Placita de Rio Bonito” or “the place along the pretty river”.  In 1869, after the civil war, it was renamed Lincoln.  A mercantile store was started by a L.G. Murphy who in time controlled the entire economy of the town and became known as “The House”.  The House was sort of an early Irish Mafia organization which owned the politicians and the lawmen and took advantage of the local farmers and ranchers.  An wealthy Englishman, John Tunstall, next entered the picture starting a rival mercantile operation which was supported by the locals.  His murder by “The House” prompted the formation of “The Regulators” and much vigilante violence began.  Of course Billy the Kid was a member of the Regulators.  The Army was eventually sent in to quell this situation.  “The Kid” became a wanted man and his reputation for fighting for the poor locals turned him into the folk hero he is today.

Buffalo soldiers were stationed at nearby Ft. Stanton

The iconic photo of Billy the Kid, I suppose they
will have to make room now for the new one

Painting of a gun battle in Lincoln

Portraits of area characters, the descriptions were colorful

The Torreon, Spanish for Tower, used for protection during attack

I didn't expect to see Violin strings manufactured in
New Brunswick, NJ on the shelf in Lincoln, NM

The Tunstall living quarters in the rear of the Tunstall store

Interior of the Tunstall store with original merchandise and 
furnishings almost totally original, amazing !

Photos of some of "The Regulators"

Billy the Kid actually was quite literate with good handwriting
and corresponded directly with the New Mexico governor

Interior of the San Juan Mission

The San Juan Mission

A depiction of dancers and musicians

On Saturday, I check out the Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino just outside of Ruidoso.  The Mescalero Apache tribe operates this Casino/ Hotel/Golf complex and it is really a beautiful operation.  They also operate the nearby Casino Apache Travel Center and the Ski Apache Ski Area.  These areas are all located on the Apache reservation which is a beautiful mountainous area.  I did my usual big spender $20 slot machine thing and walked away with $50, lucky day !

Apache dancers in front of the Casino

Apache art inside the Casino

Painting inside the Casino

View from Hotel lobby looking down, looks like there was
was an event about to start

Next stop is the Valley of Fires BLM Recreation Area;
Twinkles and Slick