New Mexico - March 2000
DEMING, NEW MEXICO
This sleepy town in southwestern New Mexico sounded interesting
enough to make a stopover. It was founded in 1881 an is just south
of Cooke’s Canyon which was one of the three most dangerous places in the
Southwest to travel through between 1850 and 1888. Apache leaders
involved in the various raids, killings and massacres in Cooke’s Canyon
included Mangas Colorado, Cochise, Geronimo, Victorio, Juh, Chato and Nana.
The tales of the various ambushes are the basis for most of the old “Westerns.”
The railroad came to Deming in 1881 along with the Harvey House and
civilization. Military bases for state and federal troops affected
the towns growth. State parks nearby include Rockhound State Park
from whence those interested can remove 20 pounds of rocks per person.
How’s that for a day's haul?
COLUMBUS, NEW MEXICO
This tiny border town was the site of a raid by Pancho Villa on
March 9, 1916 which led to the subsequent expedition into Mexico by 10,000
U.S. Army soldiers led by General “Black Jack” Pershing. Pershing
tracked Pancho Villa for 11 months (unsuccessfully) 400 miles into the
Mexican Desert. This was the last U.S. cavalry action and the first
to employ mechanized vehicles. I grew up near a main thoroughfare
in Chicago called Pershing Road and knew only that it was named after some
general, now I know more about him.
Pancho Villa State Park is in Columbus.
It was the site of Camp Furlong from whence Pershing amassed his forces.
One of the most interesting remains at this park is a concrete grease rack.
The design is essentially the same as today's, but the trucks and/or tanks
drove up onto the concrete rack.
From Columbus you can drive about a mile to a border crossing and
walk in to Palomas, Mexico. This town seems
to exist solely for Americans who go there for prescriptions, dental work
and eyeglasses. People came and went very quickly. It is certainly
not a tourist town, as shopping was limited, except for the pharmacies,
Returning from Columbus to Deming, the highway was dotted with rather
unkempt homes or ranches, and we noted a rather nice home coming up on
the right hand side of the road. It was pueblo style and obviously
new. An iron gate led to the driveway with the name clearly stated,
ST. CLAIRE'S VINEYARD, DEMING, NEW MEXICO
One of the not to be missed sites in an around Deming is the local
vineyard. We stopped and found the wine tasting clerk (or perhaps
the owner) at a table hand painting the bottles for the winery. There
were desert scenes and congratulatory messages for many occasions available.
All were individually painted and signed. Inside the shelves were
full of the many choices. BUT, the biggest surprise was when a local
came in with two empty wine bottles and they were filled at a tap along
the wall with his choice of wines and recorked with plastic corks.
They are the only place in the U.S. (according to the artist/proprieter)
to do this. She gives instructions to folks as to how to sterilize
their bottles, then for $2.50 they have a new $7.50 bottle of wine.
Not bad, but I doubt it will catch on in the Napa Valley.
LAS CRUSAS, NEW MEXICO
A Farmer's Market and Craft fair on the downtown covered mall was
our first stop in Las Crusas, New Mexico. Next to Mesilla Village
or Square and visited the shops and buildings there.