NEW MEXICO

Fourteen miles from Trinidad we crossed the state line at an altitude of 8,790 feet. The road was a good mountain road (built by convict labor), though in places it had gone tumbling down the mountain side and been corduroyed back into shape with large logs. The scenery among these mountains from the green valleys to the snow-capped peaks, and the green cedars, pinion and pine trees covering their sides, took all of my attention I could spare from the road, and often we stopped and viewed it in awe. It was so beautiful it was exhilarating, and I took many views-only-you know. Shortly after leaving Trinidad I began to have trouble with the engine. It would die down while running on high. As I was obliged to run on low most of the way, climbing the mountains, and coasted down, it didn't bother so much. When I got to the garage in Raton and explained my difficulties I was asked if I had reset my carburetor. Of course I hadn't, and I was told that when one strikes the altitude of the mountains they must readjust the carburetor to use less gas. The light mountain air makes the mixture of air and gas too rich.

A great many times I thought we were about to emerge from the mountains, only to find we turned a bend and the panorama spread out before us, presenting a different view. When at last we neared the outlet we could see a broad valley spread out before and below us, and at the foot of the mountain, almost directly below, lay Raton. We could see the entire plat of the town from this overhead view, and the winding descent into the town is very beautiful. We were passing over the Continental Divide.

We reached the garage at Raton shortly after 4 o'clock, 25 miles since dinner, much of which was spent in viewing the scenery. The garage man who attended us was from Adrian, Mich., and spotted our license tags at once. The rear tire we had vulcanized in Illinois had opened up again and I was obliged to have it revulcanized, a little readjustment made, and the storage battery charged. The garage man directed us to a boarding house which he recommended and which we found A-1. The landlady was from Michigan-Detroit.

The work on the car delayed us getting away from Raton until 10:30 next morning. The roads were fairly good but dusty. No more graded roads, but winding prairie trails. The New Mexicans have used their labor-saving turn of mind to perfect a device for dispensing with the opening of gates by building a sort of trestle with a runway for the wheels, not unlike a railroad cattle guard.

Our route led us through Maxwell City which we passed at 12:15. This being Thanksgiving day, dinner would generally be served at 1 o'clock, so we kept on, as we had 115 miles to make, good luck or bad, and darkness came early. We were wondering where we would get our Thanksgiving dinner when we suddenly came upon the little village of French, hidden from our view because on the slope of a small valley. Some distance away were some mines, which no doubt were a substantial part of the town's resources and the thing that struck me as curious was the fact that the hotel was much the largest structure in the town, all others being very small affairs and but very few of them. There were practically no residence houses, and certainly not more than 15 buildings of all kinds. The hotel was conducted by a Spanish lady who could not speak English. One of the daughters informed us dinner would be served at 1 (it was then 12:40) but if we were in a hurry she would serve us then. We had an elegant meal of roast turkey, with nine side dishes, one of which was a very hot article which we suspicion was a genuine hot tamale.

At 4 o'clock we reached Wagon Mound, so named because a large mound (or small mountain) nearby resembles a covered wagon. This was a typical Mexican village of one-story adobe huts, narrow streets, no sidewalks or yards, and a dirty, squalid looking place, the best I can say for it. I doubt if there is much Period Furniture in use there. The only piece I saw there was sitting against the sunny side of an adobe hut, seemingly about 100 years old, and from the attitude of solid comfort he had assumed I should say he was perfectly satisfied with life, or at least as much of it as he had seen.

I had trouble with the engine overheating this day, due I think to improper adjustment of the carburetor in the varying altitudes. Just below Wagon Mound about 10 miles we overtook a man walking. I inquired of him where he was going and he said to Las Vegas, 35 miles away. I gave him a lift and learned he was from Albuquerque and expected to walk all the way, 175 miles. As he knew the road, I found him of some help, for darkness overtook us 25 miles from Las Vegas. About 20 miles from Las Vegas we forded the El Mora river, which has three channels here to make it interesting fording, and got stuck in the sand on the opposite bank.

We arrived in Las Vegas at 7:15, having made an average of 14-1/2 miles an hour today. We got another "punk" hotel, but as none of the hotels here serve meals we fared better in that respect. At breakfast the next morning a lady waited upon us who was from Clinton, Iowa, just 20 miles from our old home at Moline, and informed us she had come out there for her health, and that when she came in June she was spitting blood. She had gained considerable in weight, did not expectorate any more and in consequence was about the happiest person I have ever seen.

After leaving Las Vegas we began to have trouble with the engine. Our route was up and down hill, gradually getting higher during the day until Glorietta Pass, a short distance before Santa Fe, where the elevation is over 8,000 feet. The roads were terrible-sandy, rocky, washouts, ruts, new graded road-in fact about everything in the category of bad roads except mud. We did not arrive in Santa Fe until 5:30, making an average of 8-1/2 miles per hour. This proved to be the worst day of the trip and most of my memories of it find expression in language unbecoming. We passed thru several Mexican and Indian villages, all of adobe structure and outward indications pointed to a very primitive mode of life. In all of them was the ever present little church with the cross. And the ignorance of some of these people is beyond comprehension. At one village, about 45 miles from Santa Fe, I stopped for water and inquired of a young man, evidently 25 years old or more, how far it was to Santa Fe, and he had no idea. And from his expression he seemed doubtful as to whether there was such a place. This in a country where 45 miles is of less consequence than 10 or 15 miles in Michigan, seemed to me to typify an undesirable condition.

A short way from Las Vegas we came to the Indian village of Tecolote, the queerest and quaintest of anything we had seen. It was a dilapidated, half abandoned cluster of adobe huts grouped rather haphazardly about a hollow square, which you entered at one corner and passed out at the diagonal corner. Some pictures here were also numbered among my lost treasures.

Eighteen miles from Las Vegas is a large mountain known as Starvation Peak, so called because, as tradition goes, the Mexicans in this region were once forced by the Indians to withdraw to its summit, and as there was but one approach, the Indians, by guarding this, starved them out. Just west of Rowe station, 43 miles from Las Vegas, stands the ruins of the old Pecos mission, said to be the oldest structure of its kind in the Spanish colonies, dating from the year 1500.

Fifty-seven miles from Las Vegas we entered the Apache Canon, a very scenic section, and having for its historic interest, a fierce encounter during the Civil War between a company of Colorado volunteers and invading Texans.

Santa Fe, the second oldest town in America, looks it. Adobe huts, streets too narrow for a wheel barrow, Mexicans, Indians, negroes, Chinamen, half-breeds, pack burrows-and grafters- the latter the only real modern institutions in the city, combine to give it first honors as no city at all. I would even give it the honor of the oldest city in America, judging from its appearance, and be quite willing to believe it had been preserved quite faithfully in its original state, with no taint of modern improvements. Here Mrs. Whitaker developed a genuine case of homesickness, for she thought we had come to the jumping off place-and jumped.

We left Santa Fe next morning at 9:15. For a considerable distance we had good roads and made good time. Much of the road was slightly up grade. At 19 miles we came to La Bajada hill, which is some hill. Back of us the country seemed comparatively level, and it seemed that we had simply come to the brow of a huge precipice. This hill is very steep and winding, being over a mile long, in the course of which one drops more than 900 feet. Many of the turns are so sharp a long wheel base car cannot make them without backing, and in some instances this is a task for steady nerves. While one travels a mile in going down the hill, a straight line from the brow to a point directly over where the bottom is reached would not be more than 700 yards. The balance of the mile is consumed in the windings. At the bottom is an adobe village, which from the top looks like play houses, and stretching out as far as the eye can reach is a broad valley, embracing thousands of acres, but wholly untitled. Twenty-one miles from Santa Fe is the station of Domingo. If one chooses he may leave the main trail here and take a right fork three miles to the Santa Domingo Pueblo, which is said to be a very interesting example of Pueblo Indian life. The pueblo has a population of over 1,000 and is one of the oldest and largest, where the inhabitants are least affected by civilization. They are said to be particularly averse to the white man's influence, and especially object to having their pictures taken. Strangers are warned not to expose their cameras. We did not care to go out of our way for this. A short way further on we came upon an old Indian with a rifle, bareheaded, herding a large flock of goats. We had seen a few herds before this and several immense droves of sheep.

Within 20 miles of Albuquerque we drove along the foothills of the Sandia Mountains and encountered lots of sand. We arrived at Albuquerque at 1:30. Here is a dandy little city, enterprising and prosperous, and a wholesale distributing point for a large territory. Santa Fe 65 miles north, Gallup 100 miles west, El Paso about 300 miles south and Amarillo, Texas, 300 miles east, are the nearest towns of consequence. I looked around here and if there had been any openings I should have liked to have stopped, but as there wasn't we prepared to get a good start next morning. After two days of traveling thru a desolate looking country, rough and broken, with only occasionally a sign of civilization, and that quite crude, this little city comes into view with a wholesome effect, like a bright oasis in the desert.

The country we were approaching was even more sparsely settled and as a rule it was a long drive between waters, so here we purchased a water bag. I doubt if any of you have seen them and unless you have been in this country you cannot appreciate their use. They are a bag of woven hemp, made so tight as to be practically waterproof. The slight amount of water which will get thru them in a day will hardly be noticeable, but is enough to form an evaporation which keeps the water cool, especially in a shady place. They are made in various sizes, have a metal fastening at the top, and a rope by which they are looped over a top iron and allowed to rest on the running board.

We left Albuquerque at 8:30. Roads were much the same as usual, over mesas, arroyos and hills. Since entering Colorado we had been in the land of mesas and arroyos, and not having my dictionary I had to wait awhile before I really got on to what they were. A mesa is really a broad table land or plateau, varying in breadth from one mile to 50, and is found mainly among the foothills of the mountains, or on the approach to them. And one can generally figure that in getting down off that mesa, one will have some bad roads. An arroyo may include anything from a fair sized ditch to a wide, deep, dry river bed, but it will always mean in Eastern English "Bad Road". The reason is that they are during the wet season the outlet for the water in the mountains, and after every rain or the melting of snow these are running with swift flowing water that cuts them all to pieces, or, in the case of the wider ones, shifts the sand beds around and makes it necessary to cut new ruts, which are always rough and very crooked and must be made on low gear. This condition makes it impossible to keep the roads good, and where any work is done on them it is on the mesas or away from the arroyos, except such as is necessary to make them passable. This latter work is generally done by freighters for their immediate benefit. It would be an overtaxing burden for a county to attempt it, for the counties are large, and in most cases won't average two persons to the square mile. In some places these "periodical rivers" are deep and wide, and they are given a name and called a wash, like "Beaver Dam Wash" and "Milky Wash," which I encountered later. These are of pure sand and if one doesn't get stuck one may shake hands with one's self.

We had an interesting experience this day in the deception of distances in this country. From Albuquerque we traveled by a log given me at the garage, which gave a newer route that saved about 25 miles. Our Blue Book gave the route to 42 miles out and here or near we would find a fork of a new road, which we were to take, heading for the water tank at Becker station. The garage log said nothing about this fork or Becker, but said to inquire at Sais station for new road. When we reached here, however, we decided to run over to this station and see if it was Sais or Becker. Mrs. Whitaker said it couldn't be more than a mile, but I placed it at three miles and thought I had guessed too high. When we reached Becker, as it proved to be, our speedometer registered over 6 miles. Here we crossed the railroad and as far ahead as we could see in a straight line was a streak of brown, the trail we were to follow. When we had come to the end of this we found it wound down some foothills of very beautiful scenery into a broad valley, and before entering this we looked back and could plainly see the station house, tank and pumphouse, which was all of Becker, 23 miles away. And we could easily discern objects beyond Becker, so that I believe the range of clear vision would easily be 30 miles.

Here I want to mention the good work that is being done by the Auto Club of Southern California in signing these routes. While at Albuquerque the gang that was placing the signs had just finished work there and the next day would go north. They had a large Moreland truck with top, especially arranged for this work, painted white. At all forks and intersections these signs are placed, marking national old trails, indicating proper road to take and giving the mileage forward and backward to prominent towns. The posts are of 3-inch galvanized pipe a diamond shaped sign at the top with a map and lettering relative to "National Old Trails", and, the blades of this sign indicate the direction to take. In addition a square sign is placed below arranged somewhat like the diagram shown on the page following:

At the approach to dangerous places they have also placed warning signs. These signs are neat, of enamel, and no doubt are themselves quite costly, to say nothing of the expense of recording the mileage and later placing them in position. They are of incalculable value to travelers, for in this country one meets so few persons to inquire the route that one might easily go 50 miles off his road. And owing to the shifting of the trails, Blue Book mileage is quite inaccurate. Truly, the enterprise of this Auto Club is to be highly commended. I found them an ever present help for four days, from Albuquerque, N. M., to Ash Fork, Ariz., where I left the California road and came south thru Prescott to Phoenix.

To "return to the trail." After crossing two ranges of these foothills we came into the valley of the Rio Grande river, which at this place is not very large, and shortly after crossing it passed thru the town of Socorro, another incongruous mixture of adobe huts, and better structures, Mexicans and all the other cosmopolitan population common to this section. And when you have seen this class of population in its native element you will see far less reason for Uncle Sam sacrificing any American soldiers to "butt in" to the Mexican quarrel. For as a class I believe them to be lazy, improvident and treacherous, and a protectorate over them would be a far greater problem than the negro or Indian, and it would surely require several generations to overcome this inertia of character. Personally, I think they would make poor target practice and wouldn't be worth the powder.

"... but the Indian seemed to be, and pulled too far over the ridge I mentioned, with the result that the buggy tipped over. The female contingent of the party let out an awful shriek, and this confusion in his immediate rear struck terror to the heart of the pony and away he went, down over the precipice, among rocks and boulders..."

Just beyond Socorro we entered Blue Canyon, so named because the rock and mountain sides have a blueish cast. This is exactly the color of copper ore, which is known to exist there as low grade, and I have no doubt will some day be found in profitable quantities. A short ways up the grade of this canyon, winding and steep, like all of them, we had a bit of excitement. Rounding a sharp turn, where a huge wall of rock obstructed the view of the road ahead, we came upon an Indian and his wife, driving a pony to a little roadster. (Not the gasoline kind, but a buggy without a top.) I instantly applied the brakes and stopped for the Indian to drive by. There was plenty of room, but just over the edge of the road bed the bank sloped pretty steep to a little shelf, off which was a large precipice quite steep and thickly studded with boulders. These Indians are ignorant in the commonest of things, being poor drivers, and the ponies cannot have much expected of them, considering the intelligence of their masters. The pony was not in the least frightened at the machine after I stopped, but the Indian seemed to be, and pulled too far over the ridge I mentioned, with the result that the buggy tipped over. The female contingent of the party let out an awful shriek, and this confusion in his immediate rear struck terror to the heart of the pony and away he went, down over the precipice, among rocks and boulders, where even a badly scared pony ought to have more sense than to go, with the buggy bouncing from rock to rock, and the driver and his helpmate for better or worse, sprawling over the surface of the shelf above, together with an interesting collection of worldly goods. I was out of the machine in a jiffy and viewed the strewn wreck in awe and horror. One hundred feet down the canyon wall the pony broke the single tree, caught the buggy on a rock and brought up with a dull thud, on his back between two rocks, his feet describing all known circles and angles thru the air, and a few new ones he introduced for the occasion. Ten cents would have been the limit of value I would have placed on him, and I am sure an eastern horse would have had a broken leg if not a broken neck. The Indian and I hurried down over the rocks. and lifted the pony out of his berth and found the only damage was the broken single tree, for the Indian, and a skinned knee for me, which I had banged against a boulder in my hurried flight to pick up the remains-and I didn't even move the boulder. Then the tug of war began, boosting that buggy about 50 feet up the canyon wall to the roadway, and the canyon wall so steep one could scarcely climb it alone. When we had made it, and I was earnestly endeavoring to get my breath, I looked up to see the Indian girl laughing as though this occurrence was the greatest joke of the season, and as the Indian walked back to the start of the episode and saw his belongings strewn in the wake of the pony's course, he laughed too. I gave him a dollar to have his single tree repaired and hurried on out of the way of a big car coming up the grade. But I marvel yet at the stoical indifference that could view as intense humor, what to me would have seemed near relation to disaster.

Within four miles of Magdalena, our stop for the night, we had another experience I shall never forget. We came up to a Ford roadster, along-side the trail, with a tire flat. A lady signaled us to stop and asked if we had a pump. They had loaned theirs and it had not been returned. Her husband had gone down to a cross trail in the hope of seeing a car. I dug out my pump and proceeded to pump up their tire which was only a slow leak, and when her husband returned we exchanged introductions around and learned he was a doctor and proprietor of a drug store in Magdalena, Dr. R. A. Thomas. Having in mind previous experiences with hotels in strange towns, I inquired a good place to stop, and learned the hotel accommodations were in bad shape, as one hotel building was being moved and was entirely out of commission and the other was undergoing repairs, and usually full. Finally they suggested we stop with them. As they were going to Socorro, they gave us the key to the house, would not accept our remonstrances and after telling us how to find the place, said they would be back at 8 o'clock, and for us to make a fire and possess the place as comfortably as possible until they returned. I thought this called for considerable nerve on our part but they urged and insisted and we accepted. A short while after leaving them I had a puncture which delayed me getting in, and at the garage I oiled, greased and prepared the machine for next day, as we had a long drive before us. Then, too, I laid in an extra five gallons of gas, for after leaving this place, we did not see a railroad again for 240 miles, and gas was 40 cents per gallon. We went up to the doctor's house and left our suit case, and came back to the hotel for supper. We had just returned to their house when they came. We spent a very pleasant evening with them; the kind lady went to considerable trouble to prepare us a place to sleep, got us a splendid breakfast and when I asked the bill next morning, she replied in surprise "Why, do you think we would invite you and then charge you for it?" Such hospitality we did not meet with elsewhere on the trip, and all for the mere loan of a pump, which would have been freely given with no thought of return.

Magdalena is a small place, but the biggest place for its size we saw on the trip. Nearby are some mountains where copper mining is carried on, but the principal industry is grazing for cattle and sheep. I believe it is 500,000 head of sheep that are shipped from there each year, it being the largest shipping center for sheep in the southwest. One shipper had this year 10,000 head. They are driven from as far west as the Arizona line, 100 miles west, to be shipped from here, which is the end of the railroad. It has quite up-do-date stores, two good banks, several garages and machine shops, and in all is a very enterprising place.

<< COLORADO

TO PHOENIX >>

| TITLE PAGE |
| PHOENIX, ARIZONA, Dec. 7, 1914 | LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, Feb. 19, 1915 | MOLINE, ILLINOIS, May 27, 1915 |
| HOME PAGE |

SEARCHABLE DATABASE:
www.wellswooster.com/tree/

Copyright 2001-2015 - www.WellsWooster.com/
Contact: