Archive for the 'Las Cruces' Category

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Mine House Spring – Hayner Mine

The structure known as the Mine House is located on the west slope of the Organ Mountains, not too far from the foot of the mountains. Not much is known about the house, except that it was used by the Hayner Mine while the mine was being worked. Some sources say it was a bunk house. The site was selected evidently because of the spring nearby. The date Sept 1930 is scratched in the concrete of the building, suggesting a possible date for its construction.

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The site is fascinating to visit:







The Mine House is the usual starting point for hiking to the Hayner Mine, which is 6 tenths of a mile from the house. The trek is uphill and challenging, but not too difficult.

A short distance above the Mine House there appears to be a grave:

The view of the mountains from above the Mine House is spectacular (click image for a larger view):


The view of the Mesilla Valley (click for larger image):

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Monday, March 9th, 2009

Under No Rain

The clouds whorled over the mountains. The air was gelatinous, it was so packed with moisture. The desert fragrances were a blast of consonance and dissonance.

A few drops…

And a few drops…

And not much more.

A tenth, less than two tenths, but still the mountains devoured it.

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Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Hiking Dripping Springs – Part 3

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Boyd’s Sanitarium

Dr. Nathan E. Boyd came to Las Cruces some time before 1890. Although a medical doctor, he spent almost all his time on real estate and financial speculation. In 1892-3 he began promoting a dam across the Rio Grande River just west of Engle. In 1895 he obtained a permit from the US Government to build the dam.

Construction on the dam began, financed by English capital. However, he immediately ran into huge political opposition. Mexico lodged a formal protest, claiming that it would interfere with her water rights. Agricultural interests in the Mesilla Valley strongly turned against the plan when it became clear what Boyd intended to charge. The proposed fee was one half of any land irrigated by water from the dam. Other opponents used the issue of the Rio Grande River being a navigable body of water to tie up the project in the courts.

The battle lasted until 1903, when the project was finally defeated. But Boyd continued to be legally entangled in the fallout for another decade.

Nine years later, in 1912, construction began on the , which was located south of Boyd’s dam site. This project was only possible because of the battles Boyd fought. He lost those fights, but started the processes that led to their eventual settlement.

In 1905 Boyd founded the First National Bank of Las Cruces. A year later he was forced out of the company due to loans to himself. He then organized the Mesilla Valley Real Estate Company, which among other ventures, purchased and re-sold the old site.

So, by the time that Boyd bought the Dripping Springs property in 1917, he was known for his grandiose ideas. He immediately announced a huge sanitarium would be built on the site. In the end, he build only a small sanitarium.

The ruins of the Boyd Sanitarium are south of the springs, up a short path:

Here’s the dining area of the sanitarium, half of it built on stilts:



Here’s what the inside looks like, taken through the door. Entrance into the structure is forbidden, due to its fragile condition.

Here you can see what a gorgeous setting it is:

To one side and below the sanitarium is the operator’s house, or Boyd’s house, depending upon the account:

A close up of the house:

Again, entrance is forbidden.

Some time in the 1920s Dr. Boyd sold the property to Dr. T. C. Sexton and moved to Washington D. C. Does anyone know what happened to him after he left Las Cruces?

Related posts:

La Cueva – Hermit’s Cave


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Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Hiking Dripping Springs – Part 2

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Van Patten Mining Camp

The ruins of the Van Patten Mining Camp are a short hike north of the springs. Construction of the Camp began about 1895 and was completed and advertising for business in 1897. The Camp sold itself as a vacation resort in the Organ mountains several thousand feet above the sultry southern New Mexico desert. The resort building was L-shaped. One two-story wing had 14 hotel rooms for customers, and the other wing a large dining hall, a dance hall, a roller skate rink, and living rooms for the operators.

A historical marker at the site provides a photo of what the Camp, also known as the Dripping Springs Resort, looked like in 1900.

The marker provides a few historical details on Van Patten, but does not convey the extent of the accomplishments of this remarkable New Mexico pioneer.

Albert Eugene Van Patten was born November 10, 1839 in Oneida, New York, but many sources give a different, erroneous birth date.

In 1857 when John Butterfield was starting the Overland Mail Company, he hired Van Patten and his three older brothers to help set up the El Paso link of the stagecoach trail. They arrived in El Paso as part of the first Overland work crew on December 23, 1857. Van Patten did all kinds of work for the Company, including driving stages and serving as stationkeeper at the Picacho Station.

On February 9, 1860, Van Patten was the conductor of a stage coach ambushed by Apaches in Cooke’s Canyon on its way from Tucson to Mesilla. After a long standoff in which all of coach’s mules but one were killed, Van Patten, the driver, and the six passengers abandoned the coach and fortified themselves behind rock outcrops. They were rescued eventually by scouts of a merchant party which happened to hear shooting.

When the civil war started he joined the Confederates, even though he was born a Yankee. Following the war, he was a life-long Republican.

In 1865 he married Benita Madrid Vargas, a high ranking Piro Indian. This began a life-long commitment to Indian interests, and he was a major player in the Piros relocating to Tortugas and being granted title to that land by the State of New Mexico in 1914.

He served in many offices, including county sheriff from 1884 to 1888 and deputy U. S. Marshall from 1889 to 1896. He led the posse that tracked the murders of Colonel Albert Fountain and his son Henry, and was a major witness at the trial (the accused were acquitted). Although unable to serve, he helped organize the New Mexico contingent of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.

In 1917 (not 1915 as given by the historical marker) he sold the Van Patten Mountain Camp to Dr. Nathan Boyd and entered a long period of financial difficulties. When he died on February 28, 1926, he was almost destitute.

The Ruins

The Camp Ruins are extensive, and make stunning photographs. This part of the original structure is in the best condition. Note how the two end windows in the eve match the windows in the old photo.


These ruins are of the other wing.







Picnic Area

Take your lunch, because there is a lovely, shaded picnic space next to the Camp ruins.

Related posts:

La Cueva – Hermit’s Cave


Sources:

, 1849-1999, Gordon Owen, Red Sky Publishing Company, Inc, 1999.
, Paxton P. Price, Yucca Tree Press, 1995
, George Hackler, Yucca Enterprises, 2005

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Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Hiking Dripping Springs – Part 1

The hike from the Visitors Center to the springs is about 1-1/2 miles. The hike is considered easy, although it does climb about 1500 feet. It is definitely a good idea to take water.

The Hike

Here’s what the path looks like about five minutes from the departure point:

If you look back, you can see the La Cueva rock formation:

About 1 mile still to go. On your return to this point, you can choose to go directly back to the Visitors Center, or to take one of several longer routes:

There are several places along the trail where you can rest and contemplate the wonderful views. Here’s one under an :

This is what you are heading for:

The Livery

Before you reach the springs, you come across the re-located Eugene Van Patten livery buildings:

A historical marker at the site provides the following information about the buildings:

“The wooden structures in this area were constructed in the late 1800’s by Major Eugene Van Patten. These buildings were associated with Van Patten’s Mountain Camp, a historic resort hotel located approximately 1/4 mile further up the canyon. These out buildings served as a livery, mercantile, and chicken coop for the hotel. Wagons were kept under a long barn which has collapsed. The barn was adjacent to the corral.”

“In the late 1800’s a stageline brought guests to the hotel from Las Cruces, a 17 mile trip. The stage would deliver the guests to the front of the hotel and then return to the livery. The wagons and horses for the stagelines, as well as the personal livestock of the guests were kept in this area. A milk cow and garden were also maintained in this area. Fresh vegetables (when available), beef, milk, and eggs were served to the guests at the hotel dining room.”
Dripping Springs Livery
“The photograph shows a number of guests preparing to leave from the hotel by buggy for a trip to Dona Ana in April of 1897. Local Indian boys worked at the livery, the hotel, and on the road maintenance crew. In the early 1900’s guests began to arrive at the hotel in automobiles as well as horse and wagon. The hotel ceased operations in the 1920’s.”

“The BLM is stabilizing and partially restoring portions of these ruins. Please do not touch or enter the unstabilized ruins as they are extremely fragile.”

The Springs

Approaching the springs:

Getting closer:


And closer:

As you can see, on this date (9/23/08), there was very little water coming from the springs:

Here you can see the rock cistern that was built below the springs to capture water. The cistern is completely filled in today:

Related posts:

La Cueva – Hermit’s Cave


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Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Tower and Flower


Photo taken 9/24/08.

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Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Dripping Springs – Green, Green, Green!

Old timers are saying they’ve never seen the around Las Cruces as green as it is this year.

Here are a few pictures taken at last weekend. In spite of the cloud cover at that moment, you can see how green it is.

The rock formation in the foreground in this photo is known as La Cueva, because of the cave at its base. More on this famous cave in a later posting.

A different view of La Cueva.

The cave is located about the middle of the rock formation, at ground level, where you see several trees. There are three small springs nearby that are difficult to locate, particularly when it’s dry.

These were taken as the sun set.



To visit Dripping Springs, take University Avenue/Dripping Springs Road east toward the Organ Mountains. Stay on the road until its end, even after it becomes a dirt road. The last quarter mile before you get to the park is paved.

The park closes at 5 pm. There is a fee for hiking to La Cueva and the other areas of the park, but not for seeing the Visitor’s Center or the always SPECTACULAR VIEWS.

Related Posts:



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Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Las Cruces Gets Talkies

On October 19, 1929, the Las Cruces newspaper announced the arrival of :

Sound Pictures Coming

A matter of great interest to Las Cruces theatre goers is that tomorrow the Fox Rio Grande Theatre, one block west of Church street, will open up their sound projector system which they have been busily installing for the past week or so. From the character of pictures with sound which have been booked for the coming weeks it is quite apparent that Las Cruces is to have just as high grade entertainment in that line as the largest cities in the country. Las Cruces is to be congratulated upon this fact and it is comforting to know that with this beautiful playhouse, and the installation of this most adequate and modern sound projecting system which is the product of Western Electric and the best made; together with the management afforded by the great Fox West Coast Theatre chain which now owns the Rio Grande, Las Cruces folks will not have to go to El Paso nor anywhere else to see and hear the best shows produced. It is also a matter of satisfaction to Las Cruces people that manager W. L. Gullett is to remain in charge of the management of the Rio Grande.

Las Cruces Citizen, October 19, 1929

Here’s the story behind this highly welcomed event:

Some time in early October 1929, the Rio Grande Theatre was purchased by Fox West Coast Theatres, a distribution and theater ownership company begun in 1921 by William Fox.

William Fox is one of the pioneers – and early heroes – of movies. He got into the film showing business in 1904 by starting the Greater New York Film Rental Company. In 1909, he played an important role in breaking film monopoly, the .

In 1915, he founded the to make films, his first film being staring “sex vamp” Theda Bara.

Business was booming in 1929 and Fox, who always thought “gigantic” and had a “big” reputation for showmanship, decided to celebrate his “Silver Jubilee” of being in the film business with a massive national promotion. On October 12, 1929, he ran the following full-page ad in the Las Cruces Citizen newspaper:

Fox Silver Jubilee Advertisement – “The story of William Fox
is the History of the Motion Picture”

Time Magazine said this about his campaign.

Last week came the Silver Jubilee (25 years) of the Fox Theatres, announced by lavish two-page newspaper advertisements that told of gala performances, mysteriously adding: “Far more important than even the entertainment, will be a message from William Fox of vital concern to the future welfare of every patron of Fox theatres.

In 500 of the 1,100 Fox theatres throughout the U. S. audiences heard this message delivered through Fox Movietone. The birthday gift was advice that Fox patrons buy outright as many shares as they could afford of Fox Theatres Corp. operating and holding company for his gigantic chain. As special inducement they were told of plans for future expansion and the large earnings that were possible.

Expansions promised by Mr. Fox far outstripped the ordinary bounds of showmanship. He promised not only installation of his “grandeur” proscenium-filling screen, and cinema houses devoted to newsreels, but magnificently he offered one fourth of his fortune (which newsmen were permitted to estimate at $36,000,000) to develop visual-oral instruction in schools. “On the theory,” he said, “that one picture is the equivalent of eight words” and that words uttered by college presidents are more potent than those of ordinary teachers, Mr. Fox visualized the time when 15,000,000 or 20,000,000 school children will have school hours reduced from six to three per day by listening to a talkie “educator” instead of to a teacher….

Less convincing than his generosity was Cineman Fox’s foxiness. Offered in 1925, Fox Theatres stock has paid no dividends, has never responded to continued reports of expansion. In 1928 its earnings were $1.91 a share. Previous attempts to distribute the stock, mostly held by speculators, have been unsuccessful. Early this year a group of brokers ran the stock to 37-7/8, but before much was distributed it broke to 21-1/2. Last week it was strong around 28 on belief that the Fox Birthday plan, if successful, will reduce the floating supply.

Time Magazine, Oct. 21, 1929

The coming attractions advertisement that ran in conjunction with the Silver Jubilee announcement showed that the first talkie in Las Cruces was , staring . William Boyd later became famous as “.” The Flying Fool was followed by , , and .

Movie Ad – Las Cruces Citizen – October 12, 1929

The Flying Fool is the story of a WWI pilot with that nickname who falls in love with his brother’s girlfriend. To settle who gets the girl, the brothers “fight it out” without guns in the air. After taking extraordinary risks, both brothers land safely and the girl decides she is in love with the “Flying Fool.”

Stock Market Crashes – October 24, 1929

The people who attended the Thursday showing of The Single Standard staring probably enjoyed it. It’s impossible to say how many people in Las Cruces heard of or worried about the stock market crash that day. Certainly no one knew that people would later consider that event that day — — the beginning of The Great Depression.

On October 26 the Las Cruces Citizen published the advert for the next week’s pictures, clearly marked as talkies.

Movie Ad – Las Cruces Citizen – October 26, 1929

For the curious, here’s the advertisement for the last silent movies shown in Las Cruces, just prior the Rio Grande Theatre’s purchase by Fox.

See Also:
Screen With A Voice – A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Rio Grande Theatre – More History


The Rio Grande Theatre opened on July 29, 1926. The official announcment to the public was made in the July 24 issue of the Las Cruces Citizen newspaper:

RIO GRANDE THEATER OPENS JULY 29

At last we are privileged to announce the definite opening date of the new Rio Grande Theatre built by Seale and Dyne and operated by the Central Theatres Corporation of Denver as Thursday July 29th with the powerful Sea Drama “Mare Nostrum” as created by the masterful director, Rex Ingram with Alice Terry and Antonio Moreno in the leading roles. Mr. Ingram has directed such notable successes as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and may others. Mare Nostrum is conceded to be one of the outstanding successes of the year and the management was indeed fortunate in securing an attraction of this caliber as an opening production.

A treat indeed is in store for those who have anxiously awaited the opening of this truly wonderful institution which is a great credit to the Southwest, the builders who have had the foresight to visualize the future in their enterprise and the operators for the confidence they have placed in the community in the manner they have equipped the theatre.

Replacing the old style painted scenery, the stage is to be hung and decorated in a lavish manner with velvet drapes and curtains as is the Auditorium proper. The foyer and aisles are carpeted in a rich red and the lightning [lighting] is as modern as has yet been installed in even the larger theatres in the cities.

A washed air cooling system maintains any desired temperature with its clean pure air as distributed scientifically throughout the house, the mammoth organ will be operated by Miss Elsie Dean Bristol who comes direct from one of the corporation’s Denver theatres, which assures all lovers of accurately played pictures a treat in store for them.

— Las Cruces Citizen, July 24, 1926

The first advertisement for the theatre was published in the same issue of the newspaper:

The movie selected for the opening was the silent movie , directed by . The New York Times’ movie critic Mordaunt Hall had given the movie a mixed review on Feb 16, 1926. Even then, the movie critic’s basic stance of a haute attitude and a pseudo-intellectual tone is evident. Some quotes from that review:

“The German submarine and the Wilhelmstrasse spy system during the World War are the theme of Rex Ingram’s picturization of Blasco Ibanez’s “Mare Nostrum,” which was presented last night before an audience that appeared to be left slightly dazed by the weird delivery of the film. It is an effort that in the second half has its full quota of thrills, but in the end it reminds one of the Von Tirpitz edict—”Spurlos Versenkt!” The heroine and the hero have met their deaths and so have the villains; the comedian alone is left to drift back to his Spanish port aboard a flimsy raft.”

“Mr. Ingram goes about the unfolding of this narrative with a dislike of haste. He seems to tell you that you must gaze upon his story as he tells it or not at all, and therefore it is not until just before the first half has come to a close that interest in the picture is really awakened; that happens to be through a scene in which a stout German Frau Doktor of the German Secret Service, her faithful and beautiful aid, Freya Talberg, and a Spanish skipper, drink a toast to the Emperor Josef.”


Alice Terry and Antonio Moreno in Mare Nostrum

“The first sequence dealing with the sinking of a British vessel by a submarine is graphically filmed. The Mediterranean is a tame stretch of blue to a wireless operator. He had just said “Hello” to his colleague aboard the Californian. Then one perceives the submersible sneaking after its prey, and subsequently the Californian receives her death blow in an explosion of spray and fire. Aboard the other vessel all is tranquil; then the wireless operator gets the S. O. S., but gradually the sinking ship is covered by water. The commander of the submarine pushes his cap back over his shorn head and checks off the British steamship as having been sunk.”

“Freya is arrested as a spy and taken from Marseilles to the St. Lazare prison, in Paris. In the course of usual motion picture events Freya would have been saved at the last minute. One awaits it in this film. She is taken to Vincennes in the early morning, and the soldiers line up. The buglers sound “Taps” after making a flourish with their brass instruments. Freya had made a petition to be shot in furs, feathers and expensive clothes; it was granted. She had walked proudly to the white stake against which she rests. Her hands had been tied with rope. An officer winces before the order is given to fire. When that order comes the rifles blaze and nothing more is seen of Freya until a weird idea or nebulous figures under the sea is portrayed at the end of the picture.”

“Alice Terry is fair, but unconvincing in the rôle of the German spy. She is too phlegmatic for the part. Antonio Moreno figures as the susceptible Ferragut. Mr. Moreno has plenty of character in his countenance, but he does seem to be a ready victim to a pair of blue eyes.”

“Aside from the effective photography in Spain, Italy and France and the dramatic sequences concerned with the submarine’s deadly work and the shooting of a woman spy, this production does not do justice to the talent of the man who made “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” and “Scaramouche.” His last production, “The Arab,” was lovely but a slow story that did not boast of much in the way of drama.”


Mare Nostrum Movie Poster

” is Latin for “Our Sea.” Beginning in Roman times it referred to the Mediterranean Sea. During World War I, it was common shorthand for the fight for control of the Mediterranean between the two sides.

Probably no one in Las Cruces at the time read the New York Times’ review. The opening was a big success:

NEW THEATER HAS GRAND OPENING

W. L. Gullett, manager of the new Rio Grande Theater got off to a good start Thursday night when he opened this fine new playhouse because the house was packed and the play was up to expectations, and then some.

It is needless to say that he will continue to have full houses as it is Mr. Gullett’s intention to bring only the best plays.

M. B. Stevens, the popular realty man, made an address that took big. If “Mo” decides to throw his old chapeau into the political ring, the La Estella will get right behind his candidacy.

Las Cruces Citizen, July 31, 1926

As was standard in those days, the Rio Grande Theatre changed its movies every week. Here’s the showing for the second week, July 31, 1926:

Here’s the newspaper ad for week three, Aug 7, 1926:

See Also:
Screen With A Voice – A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces, New Mexico
HANG ‘EM HIGH
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Las Cruces Gets Talkies.

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Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Soledad Canyon – Green, Green, Green!

After a very dry winter, spring, and summer, we have been getting some FINE rains. As a result, the desert around Las Cruces is greener than I can remember it ever being. It’s not just the amount of rain, probably, but it’s also the timing.

Here are some photos today taken at the base of Soledad Canyon, in the Organ Mountains.


is a public park and a wonderful place to hike. It’s about a 12 minute drive from NMSU.

To visit Soledad Canyon, take University Avenue/Dripping Springs Road east for about 4.5 miles, then turn south on the Soledad Canyon Road. That road will turn east toward the mountains in a mile; follow it all the way to the end. For the last fifth of a mile the road is unpaved; it ends at the park’s parking area.

If hiking in the park, be sure and register at the map box at the foot of the trail. You can bring your dog[s]. The park permits day use only.

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