Ft. Union Supply
Ft. Union Officers'
Ft. Union Jail
|On the first of
August, 2002, my partner and
I took a little trip to Las
(the one in New Mexico, which I dare say many readers may not even be
of). Anyway, this Las Vegas
was an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail (from
western Missouri to Las Vegas and Santa Fe) from 1821 until the opening
the railroad in 1880. During that period Las Vegas was bigger than
and today it boasts one-third of New Mexico's historically signficant
from one of the Carnegie Libraries to one of the major Harvey Houses of
The plaza in downtown Las Vegas, NM, is like walking back into the
past, when the U.S. Army came in and announced that the territory was
now under the control of the United States. There's a plaque bearing
this news on the plaza. The totally rennovated Plaza Hotel was the site
of the old West and western movies were set here.
This is a shot of a street off the plaza.
And just a few miles north of Las Vegas is the current site of the
United States' campus of the Armand
Hammer World College. Montezuma's Castle, which was originally built
by the Santa Fe Railroad as a resort, is now part of the World
Pictured here is the third resort building (the other two having burned
down). Although the resort never turned a profit throughout its
Castle has been a curiosity to tourists for 116 years. It was
also a monastary and a seminary before it became part of World College.
To get to Las Vegas from Las Cruces, we traveled first east toward
Alamogordo, New Mexico, and then north through Tularosa along Highway
54. During our trip, which took
about eight hours, the New Mexico terrain changed from dessert to
and then into the land of mesas atop which grow pine trees; the final
entrance into Las Vegas brought us at least 6,800 feet above sea level.
That's 1,500 feet higher than Denver, which boasts that it is the
Sixty miles west of Las Vegas is Santa Fe in the foothills of the
Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountains, and seventy miles north
of Las Vegas is Taos, famed for
its early twentieth-century artists and writers colonies, also home
of Kit Carson. So, whether one is traveling east and west through
New Mexico or North and South, passage through Las Vegas (and a few
days to visit, there) is a delightful experience. It is also home of
New Mexico Highlands University.
Northeast of Las Vegas are the ruins of Ft. Union,
which operated about the same time as the Santa Fe Trail and was, in
fact, established to protect the wagon trains and to act as a supply
depot for many of the other far-flung Old West Forts. It was also
potential site of a battle during the Civil War between the North and
the South, but that's another story. Standing today are the ruins of
the supply buildings at Ft. Union, as well as the officers' quarters.
The jail (the only stone building at Ft. Union) has withstood the
century of neglect, except for the
wooden doors that were attached. Cliff S. is caught, as you can see,
standing within one of the jail cells (though we do not think the
door is a true representation of those that once hung on the cell