Las Vegas, NM

Said our final goodbyes to Rooster and Trooper (aka Constable Nelson) this morning with a hearty breakfast at Lisa's Truck Centre in Moriarty.

We are on the road to Las Vegas, NM where we will spend the night and visit the Rough Riders Museum tomorrow. (It's always closed on a Monday when we travel through)

We did a quick trip up the road through Lamey but like most, the history and Railroad Museum are closed today.

 

On through Eldorado and Pecos with much of the housing around here of adobe structure. They are nestled into the surrounding environment and at times it is hard to pick out the houses until you concentrate and find them, realising their is a ton of them secreted away.

 

Going into Pecos we did actually see this roadside marker for the 'Gettysburg of the West'. That was worth the side trip off the highway just to see that and learn something new.

These are all small towns so back onto the I25 we went, heading North.

Into Las Vegas we arrived and wandered around the old town plaza. We actually went into the Plaza Hotel this time for a look. They have been renovating and are still working on it. Some of the press tinned ceilings are still there. It is beautiful and they have taken advantage of some of the space for housing beautiful New Mexico artworks.

 

Also this old travelling trunk was on display and the original safe from the hotel so beautifully ornate in its own right.

 

Some of the buildings to the left of the hotel were still being restored when we were here last in 2013 so it was nice to see the square almost completely renovated now.

We found a room for the night and headed further North to Watrous, to visit the Fort Union National Monument.

Wow! Fort Union was a military post from 1851 – 1891. It was the largest fort in the southwest frontier. I guess the best way to describe Fort Union is that back in the day it was a huge distribution centre. Not only did they have supplies come in for them but they distributed to other states and smaller fort's from the one area.

The Fort was actually built 3 times in different spots on the same land. The buildings were of Adobe construction but they did have a kiln not too far where they would make some of their bricks. Others for the fire boxes were highly aluminised and were brought in from St Louis, Missouri.

 

The hospital was run with 2 doctors, a few nurses a few matrons and many untrained civilians. On the video we watched (before doing the 1 mile walk) it was mentioned that in the whole time the fort hospital operated only 17 patients died. I think that's pretty sensational odds for that time period!

 

The decline of the Fort occurred with the coming of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.

This leads me to one of the more romantic sides of the west and I explored this before when doing the CASS Bulletin in Australia. With the AT&SF's arrival came the Harvey Houses. An entertaining idea of Fred Harvey's to serve travellers at train stop hotels (1870's to mid 1940's) with style and class unknown in the past to most coach stops.

Briefly, the Harvey girls were all single, dormed together usually above or with or within the establishment, had strict rules and curfews and wore a suitably black and white uniform, although at one point the New Mexico Harvey girls wore the traditional colourful dress of the culture. The Fred Harvey standards were not to be taken lightly. For many of these girls, it was a way out of their struggling existence. Travelling across the country to new places they may never have gotten to see.

Las Vegas was no different. The Castenada was the Harvey House stop opposite the railway depot. Still standing in its faded glory today. Was I disappointed? Hell yes!. Soon remedied with a visit to the Rough Riders Antique store across the road!

 

The Castenada Hotel is apparently being refurbished by the same guy that did the Winslow Harvey House. A couple of years and it should be open. During The Cowboy Reunion, held every August, it will be open for tours and some functions.

Whilst in the Rough Riders antique store what should I find but some beautiful La Mode Illustree fashion plates framed. Now if I had a sewing room getting set up then these were to die for. At $220 per pic (and there were 4 of them) they had to stay BUT actual Fred Harvey silver ware and memorabilia?! That I could not pass up and managed to acquire a knife and some registration cards. All from the Castenada Hotel. Thank you very much!!

 

That concludes a busy day in what we always saw as a very small town that we had always just passed through.

Cheers

Kat xo

 

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