Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Las Vegas, New Mexico and the Santa Fe Trail

October 16 - 18, 2015:

It was a windy climb over the Raton Pass on our 130 mile ride from Trinidad, Colorado to Las Vegas, New Mexico.  It was mostly wide open range land, not particularly attractive, sort of all brown with gray overcast skies.  I made a stop at the town of Wagon Mound which had little of interest to me except the landmark itself.  Wagon Mound is a huge rock formation that was a landmark for travelers on the Santa Fee trail.  Its shape gives the appearance of a wagon that could be seen for a long distance, as a navigational aid , long before GPS.

If I keep heading for Wagon Mound, I won't get lost

This is our second time this year at the Storrie Lake State Park in Las Vegas, NM, not something I prefer to do, but we had liked Las Vegas earlier in the year and it was on our way.  It is one of the dumpier State Parks in New Mexico but cheap at $14 a night.  It has electric, but the water and dump station are shut down for the season.  That resulted in a trip to the nearest Glacier water machine to fill jugs. We are well versed in this exercise and using the water pump and can get by on minimal water.  Of course after a couple of days without a shower, we may not smell so good ?  

Friday night I go downtown to check out the music scene at the Plaza Hotel which has a musician, Gary Gorence, playing who I remember seeing in Chama, New Mexico back in May.  He is very good, but the Hotel bar is just not comfortable, no sitting area, people dining with no interest in the music, a very boring crowd and atmosphere.  That takes me down the street to the “The Old Town Drafthouse” which is where the bohemian type college kids hang out, a much more fun crowd and atmosphere.  This is my second time there and as before there is an informal jam session going on that was fresh and fun.

An interesting display of dollar bills at the Drafthouse

The jam session in progress

Las Vegas actually has two separate downtown areas.  The original old Spanish town section consisted of a walled square where they could bring the livestock inside to protect against the Apache attacks.  The Santa Fe trail also passed right through this section of town.


Many great buildings in old town area

They all have much history

I'm walking in the path of many travelers

The Plaza Hotel built in 1881 is great by any standards

As the mural says, there is no substitute for fresh water

Clown inside the  antique store

A new downtown area developed in 1880 when the Acheson, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad ran it’s tracks on the other side of town.  In this area they built a Train Depot and a remarkable Harvey House Hotel called the “Castaneda Hotel”.  The Hotel has been vacant for several decades now and has become quite dilapidated, but hope is on the way.  The owners of the restored Harvey House, “The Posada” in Winslow, Arizona recently bought the Castaneda and are going to restore it to it’s former glory.  This has invigorated the entire railroad avenue area which has several prominent old decaying buildings.  I was across the street from the Hotel taking a photo of the “Rawlins” building, built in 1899, when the owner saw me and offered to give me a tour.  The Harvey girls actually roomed in the upstairs of this building.  The ornamental tin facade of this building looks fairly good, but the interior has much water damage due to the roof being open for many years.  He plans to start restoring this building shortly, it requires a tremendous amount of work, planning and money and it’s wonderful to speak to someone with that much vision and dedication.  Hopefully, these projects will inspire others to act.


The Rawlins Building wonderful facade

Upstairs in the old Harvey House rooming area, if only
the walls could talk ?

The Castaneda Hotel was one of the finest Hotels in it's day

Lupe's Lounge is making me thirsty 

Historic Lion water trough is a town restoration
project in the new town area

Wonderful mural on building in new town area

Entrance to the Masonic Temple in new town area

Detail on front of the Masonic Temple

The classic El Fidel Restaurant in new town area

Next stop is Santa Rosa, New Mexico,
Twinkles and Slick

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