The Land of Enchantment - New Mexico
Northern New Mexico - Las Vegas


Montezuma's Castle


Ft. Union Supply


Ft. Union Officers' Quarters


Ft. Union Jail

LVNM1On the first of August, 2002, my partner and I took a little trip to Las Vegas (the one in New Mexico, which I dare say many readers may not even be aware 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 of the railroad in 1880. During that period Las Vegas was bigger than Denver, and today it boasts one-third of New Mexico's historically signficant buildings, from one of the Carnegie Libraries to one of the major Harvey Houses of the railroad era.LVNM2

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 College.

Pictured here is the third resort building (the other two having burned down). Although the resort never turned a profit throughout its history, Montezuma's 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 prairie 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 "mile-high" city.

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 northern 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 the 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 rebuilt door is a true representation of those that once hung on the cell doorways).

Home • Article ArchivesLas Cruces, NM Historic District