Category Archives: New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park


~ Carlsbad, New Mexico USA ~

One of my favorite parks, Carlsbad Caverns was like Disney World to me as a kid growing up in New Mexico. I certainly visited the caves as often as a Florida kid visits said theme park. As a “Rockhound” and Geology buff, I went there often on my own during high school, fascinated by the depths, the stalagtites, columns, and stalagmites. I still share the fascination at this world class cavern never bored on its fantastic features and creatures.

The Cavern is located about 18 miles southwest of Carlsbad in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. Anyone viewing the cave can hike in through the natural entrance, or if hiking disabled can take the elevator down to the bottom via the visitor center. The main chamber of the cavern that is the most famous is called “The Big Room” which is 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high – as a large limestone chamber that is recorded as the fifth largest chamber in North America and the 28th largest in the world. There are over 119 caves and caverns in the park of which three are open to the public for tours but the main large show cave is the prime attraction. Slaughter Canyon Cave, New Cave, and Spider Cave are undeveloped with guided adventure caving tours available by reservation. Lechuguilla Cave has a prestine underground environment with delicate speleotems that once was used by guano miners. There have been over 120 miles of cave passages mapped and explored to a depth of 1600 feet.

The caverns were created roughly 250 million years before present when the area was once a coastline for an inland sea. At this time, there was a major reef called the Capitan Reef abundant with corals, sea creatures, and life. There are fossil records of Permian life including bryozoans, sponges, and other micro-organisms. Once the Permian period came and disappeared, most of the water evaporated leaving the reef buried in evaporites, sediments, and sands. There was great Tectonic action during the late Cenozoic which pushed the reef above ground, then it was hit by erosion, which sculpted the Guadalupe Mountains to how they are today.

As the water drained through the bed of limestone it was within the groundwater zone. The petroleum rserves were far beneath the limestones, and during the end of the Cenozoic, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) seeped upwards from the petroleum into the groundwater, combining with oxygen from the groundwater created sulfuric acid which continued upward dissolving the limestone deposits in its path creating caverns. The gypsum in the cave was the bbyproduct of this process when the sulphuric acid combine with the limestone. As the acidic groundwater drained from the caverns, speleothems deposited within the caverns and exposure to the influx of air into the cavern helped carve the caves we see today. As rain water and snow melt entered the cavern, it picked up carbon dioxide and as it reached the cavern ceiling precipitated and evaporated leaving calcium carbonate deposits that would grow dow from the roof as stalagites, this would create stalagmites, columns, soda straws, draperies, helictites, and popcorn features.

The cavern was first discovered by Euro-Americans in 1898 when Jim White, a teenage at the time, made a homemade wire ladder to climb down within – discovering the magical world before him. He assigned names to many of the rooms and features such as the Big Room, Queens Chamber, Papoose Room, Green Lake Room, Kings Palace, and New Mexico Room for the chambers, and Witches Finger, Totem Pole, Temple of the Sun, Fairyland, Rock of Ages, Giant dome, Bottomless Pit, Iceberg Rock for various formations.

Tourists were taken down into the caverns well before 1932 by means of a switchback ramp down to 750 feet and it was in 1932 that the visitor center was opened including an elevator for visitors who wore out easy or had difficulties walking down into the depths. They also built a cafeteria down below, gift shop, and restrooms. Millions of visitors now visit the caverns annually. The Guadalupe Room was discovered in 1966. Additional chambers and rooms were discovered in 1985 when new exploration techniques were invented discovering the chambers known as the Spirit World and the Baloon Ballroom. In 1993 a series of new smaller passages were explored that took the explorers well over a mile further discovering additional rooms outside of the New Mexico Room and being catalogued as “Chocolate High”. The bottom was discovered to the Bottomless Pit at 140 feet deep. In October 2013, a new large chamber was found hundreds of feet aboe the main area of the Spirit World and called “Halloween Hall” at 100 feet diameter with more than 1,000 bat bones on the floor.

They built a bat flight seating area so visitors could watch the bats fly out of the cave each evening with programs included and explanations of what is happening. There are often morning programs as well so that visitors can see the bats return to the cave. Most of the cave’s inhabitants are the Mexican free tailed bats who fly out each evening from the natural entrance to the nearest water sources. There have been recorded over 17 different species of bats in the park. The populations were estimated in the millions but much of the population has declined in recent years due to the use of DDT in the local surroundings by farmers and ranchers.

A recreation area detached from the park called “Rattlesnake Springs” picnic area is a natural oasis as a wooded riparian area in the desert, home to over 300 species of birds. The area is developed with landscaping, wildlife habitats, and picnic tables for visitors.

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at technogypsie@gmail.com.

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Carlsbad, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad
~ New Mexico USA ~

One of my high school tromping grounds, I often went to Carlsbad for visits to Carlsbad Caverns or Sitting Bull Falls. I probably visited the area as often as a Floridian kid visits Disney World. It is a small city in Eddy County New Mexico that is most famous for its Caverns. In 2010, the Census stated that it had a population of 26,138 residents. It is in the heart of southeastern New Mexico at the intersections of U.S. Routes 62/180 and 285. It is located at the eastern edge of the Guadalupe Mountains, the Lincoln National Forest to its northwest, and has the Pecos River running through it. It is in the northern reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert eco-region in the lower Pecos River Valley.

Besides the caverns, Carlsbad is known for its salt mines, potash mining, petroleum, and tourism. It was originally developed based on agriculture, livestock, irrigation water, and healing mineral springs.

Historically Native Americans resided in the area, but were pushed out with immigrants from Engand, Switzerland, France, and Italy. It was formed as a town on September 15, 1888 and a municipal corporation in 1893 after Charles B. Eddy, co-owner of the Eddy-Bissell Livestock Company. There were commercialization of of local mineral springs near the flume that boasted medicinal properties so they named their town after the famous European spa town called Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic).

The re-discovery of Carlsbad Caverns, originally called “The Bat Cave” by cowboys in 1901 led to the establishment of Carlsbad Caverns National Park on May 14, 1930. In 1925 potash was discovered near Carlsbad and the region dominated the Aerican potash market for years. After the potash marked crashed in the 1960’s, residents of the area voted for the establishment of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) where low-level nuclear waste would be stored thousands of feet undergroun in salt beds. It was authorized by Congress in 1979 and construction completed in 1980 and first waste shipment arrived in 1999. Today Carlsbad is experiencing an oil and natural gas boom.

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Sitting Bull Falls (Carlsbad, New Mexico)

Sitting Bull Falls
~ Eddy County Rd 409, Lincoln National Forest, Carlsbad, New Mexico USA ~ https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lincoln/recarea/?recid=34238 ~

This amazing oasis in the middle of the desert outside of Carlsbad New Mexico is amongst my world’s favorite locations and cooling off zones. I grew up with the Cave and the pools from childhood, hanging out there with friends from high school, partying in the pools above, stealthily camping and cave exploring long before there were required permits and restrictive gates or access. It has changed quite a bit, but very much improved for recreation and protecting the natural resources on location. It is a day-use only site. The site has pavilions, picnic tables, water, and restrooms accessible. There are established hiking trails from the site. It is open from 8:30 am until 6 pm with a $5 per vehicle parking fee.

The site is a astonishing dream-like 150′ waterfall than pours over canyon walls with a stalactite/stalagmite filled cavern behind it, dumping down into crystal clear natural swimming pools beneath. It is one of a series of waterfalls found in this canyon lost within the Lincoln National Forest that are spring fed through a series of streams and pools until reaching its drop-off. Most of the river’s water disappears into cracks, gravel, and bedrock and reappears in springs further down the canyon eventually joining the Pecos Valley underwater aquifer.

The geology of the area is a remnant reef system known as the Capitan Great Barrier Reef dating from the Permian period around 250 million years ago when the region was the edge of an inland sea. The name of the falls has never been proven, but legend has it that the cave behind the falls was used by Sitting Bull to hide. The Apache called the area “gostahanagunti” meaning “hidden gulch”. In 1940, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed number of stone buildings that are now part of the parking lot and picnic area. THere is a time capsule dated March 24, 1999 embedded into one of the buildings. The park was closed from APril 27, 2011 through April 6, 2012 after wildfires in the are destroyed the area making it unsafe.

There are numerous sacred pools above the falls which are great for swimming in. In order to explore the cave behind the waterfall or any of the other caves in the area, one needs proper equipment and obtain a permit.

The site is easy to get to, though quite a distance from Carlsbad so be ready for some bumpy dirt roads. Take US highway 285 north from Carlsbad, turn west on NM 137 for 20 miles to county road 409, turn right and continue to the site. Another turn-off is right across the highway from the turn-off to Bradford Lake State Park.

Another family’s video of caving in the cave: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWWj5Z7iy_I

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Roswell Country Club (Roswell, New Mexico)

Roswell Country Club
~ 2601 N. Urton Road, Roswell, New Mexico 88201 * 575-622-3410 * www.roswellcountryclub.com ~

I remember growing up with parents part of this social club – in the 1980’s it was seen as a status symbol and was a way to show off wealth (which my parents were wealthy). In my opinion it wasn’t a good life lesson to show off status or place in society, but that was the way it was back then (and maybe is now). My dad’s intent was probably more for using the golf course and to do business connections in the clubhouse with potential clients for his car dealership and real estate business. We kids of course loved fishing in the lake, swimming in the pool, and doing tennis, golf, and other sports with dad on the grounds. The membership fee in those days were steep and I imagine they are still today.

The club is located outside of Roswell just down the road from my old high school – Goddard. It was established and built in 1905 by members of the Roswell community who wanted to create recreational facilities for its members and families. It’s first officers were W.E. Wisely, E.A. Cahoon, and J.A. Graham – originally purchasing 50 acres from the Stone Estate and Cosmos Sedillo. They began construction of the Club House in 1906 under guidance of D.Y. Tomlinson and the 16 acre lake was stocked with black bass. More land was later added from John T. Stone, adding in a nine-hole golf course and swimming pool.

Rated: 4 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Sierra Middle School (Roswell, New Mexico)

Sierra Middle School
~ 615 S. Sycamore Ave, Roswell, New Mexico 88203 * (575) 627-2850 * http://www.risd.k12.nm.us/help/index.cfm ~

I could of sworn that when I attended Sierra Middle School, it was simply 7th and 8th grade. Now it is 6th through 8th grade. Apparently they have school uniforms now, I don’t remember than when attending. It was a gateway school to transition us from Elementary to High School. It is a public school operated by the Roswell Independent School District with a teacher/student ratio of 1:17. Minority enrollment is 78% of the student body. I fondly remember my class and community from Enchanted Hills. I wasn’t very active in P.E. (Physical Education) as I was asthmatic. I pursued the arts, sciences, and Band – continuing to play the Clarinet. I do remember alot of bullying taking place at the school and kids always picking fights with me, mainly ethnic based. It was not my favorite school in Roswell. I started dating in Middle School and began to learn what social cliches were. Just down the street from El Capitan Elementary School where I transferred from.

Rated: 3 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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El Capitan Elementary School (Roswell, New Mexico)

El Capitan Elementary School
~ 2807 W. Bland Street, Roswell, New Mexico 88203 * (575) 637-3400 * http://www.risd.k12.nm.us/schools/elem/ece/index.cfm ~

I fondly remember my kindergarten that I attended from 4th grade through 6th grade. That was my memory, but apparetly the school only goes from Kindergarten to 5th grade and 6th grade moved to Middle School? Unsure. According to the web site for the school, El Capitan has on average about 424 students today with 18 students per one teacher. Minority enrollment is 72% of the student body and is operated by the Roswell Independent School District.

The school has vastly increase in size, buildings, and footage so much it was essentially unrecognizable when I drove by it. I would have attended from around 1978-1980 I’m guessing when I transferred from Waverley Elementary and Holy Family Church School in New Rochelle, New York. It took a bit to fit in, but once I did I felt at home. I performed magic shows for the school assemblies, and had fun with the science fairs. As an asthmatic, I didn’t participate much in P.E. (Physical Education) but delved into band playing clarinet and science club.

Rated: 4 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at technogypsie@gmail.com.

My original grade school – El Capitan Elementary School (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=37041); Exploring Roswell, NM (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=4997). Rebirth of the Bard and Ovate: Chronicle 27 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in New Mexico. Photos taken June 26, 2018. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=38381. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2018. Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography. More info about Colorado Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=31051

Down the street from Sierra Middle School

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Alien Zone (Roswell, NM)

Alien Zone – Area 51
~ 216 Main Street, Roswell, New Mexico 88201 * (575) 627-6982 * http://alienzoneroswellnm.com/ ~

I’ve ventured into this shop and funhouse on a few occasions during my re-visits to Roswell. It was founded by Randy J. (local Pastor and commercial artist) and Elsie E. Reeves in July 1997 as a gift shop then into an amusement fun alien attraction. The company produces its own line of t-shirt designs that are created by local artists, offer alien gags, gifts, and novelties as well. They have fun displays, dioramas, and setups for picture opps as well as space for parties to be held. There is a space jungle gym, game room, and an area to have a picnic in the old cafe (no longer in operation). Definitely fun for kids, but a little run down for adults. There is an upside-down room, crashed saucer the kids can crawl into, alien at a BBQ, alien in jail, alien autopsy, and an alien in an outhouse. The shop and play zone is connected to their second shop they opened in 2000 and closed in 2008 called Hanger 84. It was salvaged and added to Area 51 through a small tunnel with a darker view of extraterrestials with interrogation chambers, a cage with rats gnawing on alien bones, and a miniature “City of the Future” model of a sci-fi future Roswell.

Rated: 3 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Blue Hole (Santa Rosa, NM)

Blue Hole
~ Santa Rosa, New Mexico
~ http://santarosabluehole.com/ ~

In the middle of the New Mexican northeastern desert is a aqua dark blue oasis called the “Blue Hole”. It was also once called “Blue Lake” or “Aqua Negra Chiquita” as one of the seven sister lakes connected underground by a vast network of water sources that gives Santa Rosa its reputation of being a city of natural lakes. These are all part of the Santa Rosa sink – a popular watering hole, recreation spot, and tourism along historic Route 66 and old settlement days. The Sink became a National fish hatchery in 1932 and by the 1970’s became a Recreation Area and morphed into the Blue Hole Dive and Conference Center. It is a source of clear pure water that is a treasured natural resource – with 100′ visibility as the water continually renews itself ever six hours with a constant 62 degrees Fahrenheit and a constant inflow of over 3,000 gallons per minute. The surface is 80′ wide and expands to 130 feet diameter at the bottom. A circular bell shaped pool that is a spring and a sinkhole in one. As Santa Rosa is at a elevation of 4,616 feet above sea level, divers training in the Blue Hole have to use high-altitude dive tables to computer their profile and decompression stops while diving. Swimmers, cliff jumpers, and bathers enter above for free with sometimes no lifequards present.

The Blue Hole has claimed many lives which has forced the City to place a grate over the cave entrance at the bottom for safety. Even when they have opened the grate for expert divers to go in and map the caves, death was often the end result. March 26, 2016 – 43 year old expert California cave diver Shane Thompson became trapped and drowned while exploring the passageways. According to the Albuerqueque Journal in March 1976 two divers within a group of 10 university students were diving together and 21 year old David Gregg and 22 year old Mike Godard didn’t resurface and lost their lives in the caves. After multiple rescue dives, their bodies recovered. In 1979 it happened again, two other divers got lost and died in the caves, bodies recovered after multiple dives. This led to the closing of the entrance. There is a 1960’s-1970’s urban legend of another diver who got lost, and his body never recovered in the Blue Hole. Legend states his body was found naked and scraped up in Lake Michigan that somehow the Blue Hole and Lake Michigan was connected via underground caves and tunnels. However since all the other bodies were quickly recovered and scientists state its impossible for the tunnels to connect to the Great Lakes not only because of geology but a need for a continuous rock stratum to support such caves. There is also the impassible hydrological barrier of the Mississippi River that acts as a giant collection system not only moving surface water to the Ocean, but subsurface water to. The body would have to swim upstream to get to the Great Lakes.

Map of Blue Hole: http://santarosabluehole.com/map/santarosamap4000.pdf

Additional Reading:

  • According to Leanne 2012 “Diver deaths spawn rumors of underground waterway” website referenced 7/11/18 at https://accordingtoleanne.com/2012/12/06/diver-deaths-spawn-rumors-of-underground-waterway/.
  • NY Daily News u.d. “Expert diver died after getting trapped overnight navigating the dangerous Blue Hole caverns in New Mexico: ‘Everything went terribly wrong’ website refereced on 7/11/18 at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/expert-diver-dies-blue-hole-caverns-new-mexico-article-1.2586285

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions, visited 6/26/2018. ~

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Santa Rosa, NM

Santa Rosa, New Mexico

The City of Natural Lakes in Guadalupe County, New Mexico – this city is a Route 66 tourist destination, especially for it’s Blue Hole and recreational activities. It is a relatively small town, with approximately 2,848 residents according to the 2010 Census. It is located at the intersection of I-40, Route 54, and U.S. Route 84 in between Albuquerque and Tucumcari along the Pecos River. In the Northeastern part of the state, the city is west of the staked planes of Eastern New Mexico and west Texas.

The first Euro-American settlement was “Little Black Water” or Aqua Negra Chiquita in 1865 and later changed in 1890 to Santa Rosa after the chapel that Don Celso Baca the city’s founder built and named after Saint Rose o Lima and his mother Rosa. The name also may refer to the roses in the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Catholicism of the Spanish colonizers who settled here. The area became pouplar in 1902 with the building of the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad went through there and the Northeastern Railway from the southwest. The east-west highway through town was Highway 66 in 1926 making it a popular rest stop with motels and cafes. The city was a scene in John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” and the movie filmed by John Ford for the infamous train scene as well as shooting scenes for Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw.

Santa Rosa has numerous natural lakes which is odd for the dry desert climate making it an oasis of sorts. Numerous sinkholes have formed in the limestone bedrock of the area and filled with water all connected by a network of underground water filled tunnels making it a popular cave diving and scuba training location. The most famous of the sinkholes is the “Blue Hole” which stays cool year round at 61 °F (16 °C) water forms a lake over 81 feet (25 m) deep.

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The German Iron Cross of Roswell

Iron Cross at Spring River
~ North bank, Spring River, Roswell, New Mexico ~

Embedded in the North bank of the Spring River by the Roswell Spring Hill Zoo is a heritage landmark that was created by German prisoners of War who were working on a flood control project that was part of their incarceration. It was in 1943 that a 50 man detail rip-rapped rocks on the Spring River banks. It was on the north bank between Pennsylvania and Kentucky Avenue that they made an “Iron Cross” on the bank. These men were prisoners of war imprisoned during World War II in a camp near Orchard Park. The camp housed more than 4800 German prisoners of war from the Afrikacorps Rommel’s men of the 8th army from 1942-1946. There were numerous residents in Roswell who were angered at this work and retaliated by pouring five yards of concrete over their landmark. The concrete over time washed away and it is said to be visible again.

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Motel 6 – Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell’s Motel 6
~ 3307 N Main St, Roswell, New Mexico 88201
Phone: (575) 625-6666 ~

Motel 6, the standard cost-rating hotel for an area – in which that you can tell what the affordable going rate is in a city by the price broadcast on the outside of the motel by their sign. However Roswell’s Motel 6 is much more grandiose than most Motel 6’s in that it is not a motel, but actually a hotel with an indoor pool and hot tub. Elevator to your room with luggage carts available. It was quite nice treat. Budget pricing still its icon, but free internet unlike the pay additional fee that other Motel 6’s in the country seem to use. It’s only 3 miles from the International UFO Museum and Research Center. Great flat screen tvs with expanded cable, free WiFi, Kids 17 and under free with adult. Coin laundry, free coffee in the morning, and plenty of parking (for cars and trucks). They even let me unhook my trailer and leave it while i did sightseeing even when i wasn’t checked in yet, and after i had checked out. That was super nice. Microwave, fridge, and kitchens in some rooms. We had a great stay.

Rated: 4 of 5 stars. Visited 6/26-27, 2018. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Roswell’s Alien Craze

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That Crazy Alien City – Roswell
~ Roswell, New Mexico ~

My family moved to Roswell, New Mexico in 1973-1974 from New Rochelle, New York. I began grade school at El Capitan Elementary School then progressed to Sierra Middle School, and on to Goddard High School before moving off in 1986 to Florida attending college at Florida State University. That whole period of 1973-1986, there was no hype about the rumored UFO crash, alien autopsies, or space visitors albeit a running urban legend. The city was a progressive agriculture town, with a former military Cold War base and missile silos towards exits outside of each direction from the city. Roswell was known as the “All American City”. There were legends and tales about the UFO crash but that was about it. One of my dad’s friends, Mr. Bentley spoke about his abduction and proudly showed scars the aliens left on his stomach. He was a crazed inventor that my dad invested with. As a kid I was obsessed with the belief of Faeries, UFO’s, Ancient Egypt, and magic. I had a blue scrapbook I made of UFO sightings, crashes, and strange phenomena. There was very little in that book about Roswell. “The Incident” wasn’t talked about much. I remember even trying alternative science experiments for the science fair at El Capitan and such “bizarre” theory based subject matter was severely frowned upon. So I moved on and advanced with real science. I’m sure the science fairs in Roswell accept pseudo-science topics now.

The hype is all based on an event on June 14, 1947 where an un-identified object crash landed outside of Roswell. The rancher who owned the land W.W. “Mac” Brazel and his son Vernon called it “a large area of bright wreckage made up of rubber strips, tinfoil, and rather tough paper, and sticks.” They brought the wreckage into town to the local sheriff George Wilcox. Insiders claimed it was a UFO with alien bodies. This theory was quickly leaked to the Press and published. Others, including the military, later claimed it was a high altitude weather balloon that fell from the sky. Ex-military representatives however cried otherwise, leading to many conspiracy theories. The Sheriff contacted Colonel “Butch” Blanchard, commander of the Roswell Army Airfield’s 509th Composite Group. The Colonel was stymied and contacted his superior General Roger W. Ramey, commander of the 8th Air Force in Fort Worth, Texas. Intelligence officer Major Jesse Marcel was sent to investigate and collected all of the wreckage, trying to figure out what the materials were, and Marcel made a public statement claiming that it was a Flying Saucer. The local newspaper sensationalized it letting the public know that “The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment Group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today, that the field has come into the possession of a Flying Saucer.” It was after-all at the close of World War II and sensationalism about anything from space was popular news. The U.S. at this time had sent V2 rockets with payloads of corn seeds and fruit flies into outer space, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists had the “Doomsday Clock” ticking, and UFO’s were the rage in popular culture.

The military said it was a Mogul Experimental weather balloon that crashed. The 1948 government report “The Roswell Incident” was published and utilized by the Variety reporter Frank Scully who wrote “Behind the Flying Saucers” – a book that detailed alien encounters from the Pacific Northwest, Aztec – Farmington – and Roswell, New Mexico, and how aliens were now said to be landing their air craft in people’s backyards. World enthusiasm about the phenomena was global and widespread. Some claimed the Air Force propagated the lies to distract people from monitoring its nuclear weapons development, while others claimed the government was covering up the fact they had space craft and aliens in their possession.

Project Mogul was a secretive project, out of Washington DC being operated at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico launching high-altitude balloons in the area – these balloons would reach high altitudes and were 657 feet long from tip to tail, 102 feet taller than the Washington Monument and twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty – they would enter the upper jet stream toward Russia with a long tail equipped with different types of sensing and listening devices trailing behind it. This is the government’s explanation of the wreckage.

There was the radio broadcast “War of the Worlds” that shook America. Hollywood produced many movies and television shows taking advantage of the enthusiasm, such as Close Encounters of the Third kind, E.T., and Star Wars. Everyone wanted to “believe” we were not alone. Rumors exploded across the countryside, every U.S. military base that had a cloak of secrecy over it (and even some that didn’t) was suspected of housing crashed space ships and aliens. Enter in “Area 51” – a secret air strip in Nevada that rumors were created stating the aliens recovered in Roswell were kept there with their ship. The U.S. Government didn’t help dismiss the rumors, as they just placed large “No Trespassing” and “Use of Deadly Force Authorized” outside the areas.

By the 1990’s there was a notable industry built up around the belief in aliens, UFO’s, and extra-terrestrial existence. With this came books, movies, films, broadcasts, memorabilia, gadgets, toys, posters, and stuffed alien dolls. It was around this time that the International UFO Museum and Research Center decided to make its home in Roswell. I left in 1986 upon graduation, it was soon after they arrived.

Years later the craze infected the city and the old downtown city theater we used to go see Rocky Horror Picture Show was sold and altered into a UFO museum. It was strange to see such a historical landmark as that theater to disappear into space. Then I hear UFO festivals brought millions in tourism to the town, every other fading downtown store front turned into a UFO and alien gift shop, maze, or themed eatery. The city’s lamp posts were topped with alien heads. Every store eventually had their own alien statue sitting out in front of it or had alien heads somewhere on their signs, glass windows, or billboards. The local McDonalds built their play area to be shaped like a giant spaceship. Even the local Walmart added aliens to their frontage. It was nuts. North of the city off Highway 285, the crash site was identified, and a large sign erected to identify its location. New Mexico State University conducted an excavation there to investigate what happened and if any evidence still remained. The crash site now is unmarked with the sign removed, some say “no trespassing” signs exist on site, although my June 2018 visit to the site just had an un-marked skeletal frame that once listed the incident location. Oddly the Roswell UFO Crash Site is just 1/4 mile south of one of the Roswell Missile Silos.

The hype definitely brings tourism to Roswell. Residents love and hate this. For a brief moment of time there was an anti-alien organization camped out in a storefront across the street from the Roswell UFO Museum. They promoted their mission with stickers of alien heads with the “no” symbol crossed over it. They were responsible for much of the vandalism of the crash site sign, as they left the stickers with their damage on location. They no longer exist at least on Main street. If they are still in operation today I have no idea.

The landing of the UFO enthusiasts certainly changed the city. For the good or the bad, no one really knows – but certainly has placed Roswell as a popular tourist destination and hot spot. Of course the hype is not constrained to “Roswell” alone … According to the Public Policy Polling Survey around 12 million people in the United States believe that interstellar lizards in people suits rule our country. Around 66 million Americans believe that aliens landed at Roswell, New Mexico; and around 22 million people believe that the government faked the moon landing.

~ Article by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Brantley Lake State Park (Carlsbad, New Mexico)

Brantley Lake State Park
~ 33 West Brantley Lake Road, Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220 USA * (575) 457-2384 * https://www.newmexico.org/listing/brantley-lake-state-park/2089/ ~

Just 12 miles north of the city of Carlsbad, New Mexico is a large 4,000 acre lake and dam called Brantley Lake. The State Park around its edges hosts a day use area, boat ramp, picnicking tables, rest rooms, playground, grills, and campground. The campground has 51 developed campsites with electricity, water, shower facilities, playground, visitor center, and other amenities. Brantley Lake is a man-made reservoir formed when Brantley Dam was erected across the Pecos River in the 1980’s. It is the southernmost lake in New Mexico and is very popular picnicking, camping, fishing, boating, and water recreation site. The lake is stocked with white bass, bass, walleye, catfish, bluegill, carp and crappie. As of 2018 the State Parks Department does not recommend eating fish from the lake for there was detected high levels of DDT in the fish tested. The campground and day use site can e reached via U.S. 295 by going northeast 4.5 miles down Eddy County Road 30.

We visited in June of 2018. The sites were great though a fire ban prevented use of campfires and grills. High winds nearly broke our 10 x 10 shade structure, so make sure to tie down well. From the campground we had hoped the Lake Loop would take us down to the Lake’s shore, but it didn’t. It was an interesting walk none-the-less. Playground was great, my son had a blast there. At the point of our visit the campground hosts were state troopers so we definitely felt safe.

Rated: 3 of 5 stars. Visited 6/25-6/26/2018. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Goddard High School (Roswell, New Mexico)

Goddard High School
~ 701 East Country Club Road, Roswell, New Mexico 88201 * www.risd.k12.nm.us ~

The memories of attending High School in the small town of Roswell, New Mexico sparked thoughts of the good, the bad, and the ugly moments growing up. There were two main public high schools, Goddard High and Roswell High. They of course, like most cities, have rivalry battles between the two schools, usually centered around football. Just down the street from the Roswell Country Club there were definitely class differences bounded by various social groups at the school. I transitioned here from Sierra Middle School which had a similar structure, social groupings, flow and base.

I loved my high school – I was very enthusiastic with Dr. Massey’s Introduction to Anthropology, Ski Club, French Club, French class, computer science, biology, natural sciences, and the whole lot. I fondly remember ski trips and my French club’s trip to Quebec. I remember performing magic shows in the auditorium as a fundraiser for the trips. I loved most of the classed, but I however did not like Math. But who does, really? I embraced the sciences, dove into skiing, bicycling, and French, played clarinet in the High School band. I never cared for the team sports like basketball or football. This isolated me a bit. But I was one of the Enchanted Hills kids who flowed between various social groups between the jocks, the nerds, and the outcasts so my aversion to P.E. (Physical Education) was okay. I was friend to most, and enemy to less than I could count on a hand – and those usually centered around dating games, girls, and jealous ex-boyfriends.

As memory served, the school did its job and was successful at least with me, as I had great teachers and curriculum. If I remember right, the school was even appropriate with Sex Education even though controversial at the time. Back in the 80’s, encouraged by movies like War Games, it was a stepping stone to learning hacking, as the school’s protocols were simplified with passwords written on post-it notes in desk drawers. As the internet was only being invented when I was in school, if you mastered DOS and bulletin board systems you found your way around their systems. The school didn’t have to really worry about security in the 80’s. They were advanced with training computing which was spectacular. We didn’t have the problems schools have now. But that changed towards the end of 1986 graduation, as I do remember school security constantly evolving and locking down. They of course in the 80’s were mainly concerned with truancy rather than drugs, guns, and bullying like today. I belonged to the Class of 1986. It was a fond mile marker in my life. School Proms, assemblies, and activities were actually favorable memories though maybe not so much at the time. School crushes. Learning flirtation, dating, and making out under the bleachers. The All American high school experiences were definitely part of my history. Ever so true were the high school parties and activities we had resembling films like Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and Better Off Dead. I had a John Hughes themed four years at Goddard. I dove into New Wave, 80’s, and pre-Gothic music as my inspiration. We were adventurous and knew how to have fun. Parties in the Missle Silos, repelling into caves in the desert, treks to Sitting Bull Falls, Carlsbad Caverns, and skiing in Riodoso. The fond memories of the Gotcha team as we played T.A.G. on campus with toy guns with plunger bullets and not having to worry about security freaking out. Those were the days.

Robert H. Goddard High School was named after Robert Hutchings Goddard, the rocket pioneer that Roswell was infamous for (before the alien craze of course). The school was founded in 1965, only three years before I was born. The school is one of the major facets of the Roswell Independent School District. They boast the rocket as their mascot, with Columbia blue and white as the school colors. Most of the classrooms are underground as the school was built as a bomb shelter in case of nuclear war. The cafeteria, auditorium, and other larger assembly rooms were built on ground level. Since I attended, the school has massively expanded, with a large swimming pool I believe as an addition. I have not re-wandered the halls, so unsure of the current mutation. The classes embraced 9th through 12th grade. 2010 ethnicity composition was 60% white, 37% Hispanic, 2% African American, and 1% American Indian/Alaskan Native/Pacific Islander according to Wikipedia.

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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State of New Mexico, USA

New Mexico, United States of America
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New Mexico (Spanish: Nuevo Mexico [?nwe?o ?mexiko]; Navajo: Yoot Hahoodzo [jo:t haho:dzo]) is a state located in the southwestern and western regions of the United States, admitted to the union as the 47th state in 1912. It is usually considered one of the Mountain States. New Mexico is the 5th most extensive, the 36th most populous, and the 6th least densely populated of the 50 United States.

New Mexico encompasses over 121,400 square miles with its eastern border at the 103 W longitude to the state of Oklahoma and 3 miles west of the longitude and its southern border with Texas and the Mexican States of Chihuahua and Sonora to its south. New Mexico shares its western Border with Arizona and shares Four Corners with Arizona, Utah, and Colorado in the upper Northwest. Colorado is New Mexico’s Northern Neighbor. The State lacks in water hosting around 250 square miles of surface water. The landscape is varied from deserts to forests, mesas to snow-peaked mountains, gully’s and canyons to caves and mines. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains offers the southernmost part of the Rocky Mountains Range. The Rio Grande, Pecos, Canadian, San Juan, and Gila are the most important rivers running through the state.

New Mexico’s climate could be described as semi-arid or arid even though there are areas with continental and alpine climates. New Mexico is actually mainly covered by mountains, deserts, and the high plains. In the Eastern part of the state, you can find the high plains of the Great Plains where it is similar to the Colorado high plains in Eastern Colorado. Both Colorado and New Mexico share similar terrain of mountains, basins, mesas, plains, and desert lands. New Mexico gets an annual average precipitation of 13.9 inches a year with average annual temperatures from 64 Fahrenheit in the Southeast to below 40 degrees in the northern mountains. Summer temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit at elevations under 5,000 feet above sea level.

The bio-diversity of New Mexico is extreme with extensive habitats for a variety of species – plants, animals, and insects. Botany varies from mesquite, cactus, yucca, desert grasses, Creosote bush, black gramma, purple three-awn, tobosa, burrograss, ponderosa pine, aspen, cottonwood, spruce, fir, scrub oak, Russian olive, and much more. Fauna has a wide range including black bears, cougars, jaguars, coyotes, porcupines, skunks, Mexican grey wolves, deer, elk, plains Bison, collared peccary, bighorn sheep, squirrels, chipmunks, pronghorn, western diamondback, rodents, reptiles, birds, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, prairie dogs, antelope, and many others.

New Mexico was first inhabited by indigenous peoples for many centuries before Euro-Americans moved in or even saw exploration. New Mexico first belonged to the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain. It became part of Mexico before it became a U.S. territory and then state. New Mexico has the highest population of hispanics in the United States including descendants from Spanish colonists who lived in the area for over 400 years. New Mexico also has the second highest percentage of Native Americans after Alaska, and the fourth highest total of Native Americans after California, Arizona, and Oklahoma. The existing Native Populations consist mostly of Navajo, Puebloan, and Apache peoples. New Mexico’s imagery, state colors, and flag are influenced with the scarlet and gold colors from the royal standards of Spain and the ancient sun symbol of the Pueblo’s “Zia”.

New Mexico or “Nuevo Mexico” is mistakenly believed to have taken its name from “Mexico”, which is not the case. The area was given the name “New Mexico” in 1563 and again in 1581 by the Spanish Explorers who believed the area contained wealthy Indian cultures similar to those of the Aztec “Mexica” Empire. “Mexico” as part of New Spain, adopted its name centuries later in 1821 after gaining independence from Spanish rule. New Mexico was only part of the independent federal republic of Mexico for 12 years from 1836 to 1848.

The first human cultures were Paleo-Indians, starting with the Clovis culture followed by Mogollon and Ancestral Pueblo. Euro-Americans came in the 16th century and encountered villages built by the Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, and Ute. From 1540-1542, the Spanish Explorer Francisco vasquez de Coronado set through New Mexico with a jassive exxpedition looking for the mystical seven golden Cities of Cibola as described by Fray Marcos de Niza. The name Nuevo Mexico came from gold miners led by leader named Francisco de Ibarra exploring far to the north of Mexico in 1563 stating his findings as being in “a New Mexico”. Santa Fe was established at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains the southern end of the Rocky Mountains around 1608. Much of Santa Fe and settlements around the state were abandoned from 1680-1692 by the Spanish after the Pueblo revolt. Once the Pueblo leader leading the revolt died, Diego de Vargas restored the area back to Spanish rule Returning settlers founded Albuerqueque in 1706. As it was “New Spain” at the time, claims of the State were often covered by independent Mexico in 1821 followed by the Mexica War of Independence. In 1836 the Republic of Texas claimed portions east of the Rio Grande after it seceded from Mexico in 1836. Most of the northeastern part of the state was owned by France and sold to the U.S. during the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

From 1846-1848 the region was thrown into the Mexican-American War, and in 1848 Mexico and America made the Treaty of Guadalupe with Mexico ceding its northern holdings of the American Southwest including New Mexico and California to the U.S. Texas also ceded its claims to the area east of the Rio Grande in exchange for 10 million dollars, so the U.S. established the Territory of New Mexico on September 9, 1850 including most of present-day Arizona and New Mexico, and part of Colorado. This compromise created the current boundary between New Mexico and Texas. Historically New Mexico had a role in the American Civil War, as part of the Trans-Missisippi Theater where the Confederate and Union governments claimed territorial rights over the New Mexican territory. The Confederacy claimed the souther tract as part of the Arizona Territory in 1861 waging an ambitious campaign to control the American Southwest and open access to Union California, but this was broken after the Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862. They continued to operate from Texas marching under the Arizona flag until the end of the war. Over 8,000 troops served the Union from New Mexico.

(not a complete list, just places we’ve covered so far, work in progress)

Cities, Towns, Villages:

  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Santa Rosa, NM
  • Taos, New Mexico

    Natural Areas:

  • Bottomless Lakes State Park
  • Cimarron Canyon, New Mexico
  • Bradford Lake State Park
  • Rio Grande Gorge and Bridge, New Mexico
  • Sitting Bull Falls
  • Tourism:

    Sites of Interest:

      References:

    • Baurley, Thomas 2015 Alternative America: Travel Guide to the U.S.A. Technogypsie Publications, Riverside, California.
    • McGowan, Leaf 2015 Magical America. Technogypsie Publications, Riverside, California.
    • Wikipedia 2015 “New Mexico”. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Website https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Mexico referenced 8/16/15.
    • Wikipedia 2015 “United States of America” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Website https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States referenced 8/16/15.

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    Ruidoso, New Mexico

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    Ruidoso, New Mexico

    A place of adventure, explorations, fun, and games in my childhood, Ruidoso was always a mountain retreat of a tourist trap that entertained the adults and kids thoroughly. Named after “Noisy River” in Spanish as the Rio Ruidoso being a small stream that weaves through the heart of the city. It is a small mountain-side village located in Lincoln County, New Mexico and is surrounded by the Lincoln National Forest. It had a population of just over 8,000 residents in 2010. Combined with neighboring villages of Ruidoso Downs, Mescalero, Hollywood, and Alto, its population is bumped up to just over 21,000 residents. Its most notorious for being a mountain resort town, especially in the heart of winter when skiers and snowboarders hit the slopes using Ruidoso for their shopping, lodging, and dining as it lies along the rugged Sierra Blanca mountain range. During summer its popular as a summer resort for hiking, horseback riding, hunting, and gambling. Ruidoso Downs racetrack and the Inn of the Mountain Gods are popular places for gambling. The Mescalero Apache manage the Inn as well as Sierra Blanca’s Ski Apache resort atop at 12,000 feet above sea level mountain. The villae or town is one of the fastest growing cities in New Mexico with major developments taking place as of recent. The city has experienced its own share of fires, floods, and natural disasters picking up the damage and rebuilding quickly after disasters struck.

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    White Sands National Monument

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    White Sands National Monument
    * Alamogordo, New Mexico * www.nps.gov/whsa/ *

    A childhood tromping ground for me with memories of hikes, sliding down cardboard boxes and skis, White Sands was our favorite desert. Rolling hills of white gypsum sand was our concept of a desert as kids. The Monument is located 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo, New Mexico. It resides at an elevation of 4,235 feet above sea level and is a 275 mile field of white gypsum crystal sand.

    The first known humans to investigate the sand beds were the Mescalero Apache who lived in the area. The first official exploration was by the U.S. Army in 1849 C.E. The first Euro-Americans to explore the sands were Hispanic families farming in the area around 1861 C.E. (Common Era) inhabiting Tularosa (1861) and La Luz (1863). IT was already as early as 1898 C.E. when thoughts were discussed about turning White Sands into a National Park, originally proposed as Mescalero National Park as a game hunting preserve. This was not successful as the idea conflicted ethically with the National Park Service mission which does not preserve sites for hunting. It wasn’t until 1933 when President Hoover created the White Sands National Monument. The Monument however is completely surrounded by military installations such as the White Sands Missile Range and the Holloman Air Force Base. Relations between the government agencies haven’t always gone well as over 131,000 errant missiles have fallen into the National Park property destroying some of the areas for visitors and fly-overs by the air force base have disturbed animal life and the serene tranquility of the monument. It was proposed to be part of the World Heritage Sites in 2008, but shot down by U.S. Representative Stevan Pearce who believed such listing would endanger use by military installations in the near future. This caused a lot of controversy in the surrounding are with resulting petitions signed, passing Ordinance 07-05 purporting to make it illegal to become a World Heritage Site. In 2008 the Commission had a Attorney demand that the Secretary of the Interior remove it from the Tentative World Heritage Site list.

    White sands is unique in that gypsum is rarely found in the form of sand because of it being water-soluble as rains would normally dissolve it and carry it out to sea. But since the Tularosa Basin is enclosed, there is no outlet to the sea trapping it in the basin, with water sinking into the ground forming shallow pools that eventually dry out creating selenite crystal, or flowing out south into the Hueco Basin. These crystals can grow upwards in length of 3 feet. Weathering and erosion usually pulverize them back into the sand thereby creating the white dunes which constantly change shape moving downwind. Many different forms of dunes can be found in the park – including domes, transverse, barchan, and parabolic dunes. These sands never heat up like the quartz-based sand crystals so can safely always be walked on with bare feet even in the hottest weather months. The park is open annually, except twice a week for 1-2 hours during missile testing by neighboring bases for safety reasons. The Trinity site, where the world’s first atom bomb was detonated, can be found in the northernmost boundaries of the White Sands Missile Range.

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    Acoma Pueblo

    Acoma Pueblo
    * Acoma, New Mexico *

    I’m not sure how I forgot about this mysterious and heavenly city, “City in the Clouds” as I had studied it extensively in Archaeology and Anthropology courses in University. It took a good travel mate to attract my attention to it as we were travelling across New Mexico. “Aa’ku”, “Hakukya”, “Haak’oh” and “Acoma” are various Native American language names for the Cloud City located 60 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This Mesa-top City, is three Puebloan culture villages combined into one – (1) Old Acoma or “Sky City”, (2) Acomita, and (3) McCartys. “Acoma” is a Spanish (as well as the Keresan language group Acoma) word for “the place that always was” or “People of the White Rock”. “Pueblo” is Spanish for “village”. A Federally recognized tribe, the Acoma are a Pueblo Native American group who are believed to be descendants from the Anasazi and/or Mogollon peoples of the Four Corners Region (Home to Mesa Verde, Salmon, Aztec, and Chaco Canyon culture groups) as are most of the Pueblo peoples. There are approximately just under 5,000 registered Acoma people existing today as most of their populations were decimated by the Spanish, Catholicism, and Euro-American settlers. They have occupied this area for over 800 years as of this writing making their village one of the oldest continuously inhabited villages in the United States. The Acoma believe they have been inhabiting the village for over 2,000 years. Archaeologists believe that the Mogollon/Anasazi peoples who gave birth to the Puebloans of the Four Corners region who evacuated the area due to severe droughts, and Sky City believed to be one of the locations they relocated to. This mesa that they moved to is a 365 foot high natural mesa, isolated with built-in natural fortifications. This helped the Acoma defend against Plains, Navajo, and Apache Indians because they were a peaceful non-warring society. However they suffered once falling in contact with the Spanish and Europeans. Spanish explorers in search of the 7 cities of Gold, came to them peacefull at first, trying to locate the legends of gold they were told about. The expedition’s leader, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado noted in his journals during their 1540 visit that this Pueblo was one of the strongest places they had encountered. At the time of their initial visit, the only method to access the top of the Mesa, was via an almost vertical set of stairs cut into the rock face. It took roughly 18 years for the Acoma to realize the Spanish had ulterior motives and relations between the two peoples began to disintegrate. The Acoma discovered that the Spanish had wanted to colonize their lands, so in turn ambused Juan de Onate’s men, killing 11 of them to defend their acreage. The Spanish came back to enforce penalty on the attack, burning most of their village and slaughtering over 600 of their people. They imprisoned the rest forcing them into slavery. They amputated the right foot of all men 25 years or older so they could not leave the Mesa. After the Massacre, the Acoma recovered and rebuilt their community, even though they had to pay taxes and tithing to Onate and his Catholic Missionaries. Churches were constructed and Western ways were taught to the Acoma. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 took its toll on the Spanish, bringing in refugees from other Pueblos, and pushing many Spanish out. Those Acoma that left the Mesa, formed the Laguna Pueblo not too far away. The Acoma then suffered through Westerner diseases brought over such as smallpox and raids from the Ute, Comanche, and Apache. They had to adopt Catholic faith, although also practicing their indigenous faiths in secret.

    From 1629-1641 C.E. A Catholic Priest named Father Juan Ramirez was stationed at the Acoma Pueblo constructing the San Esteven Del Rey Mission Church atop the Mesa. The Acoma was forced to build this colossal palace for God moving over 20,000 tons of stone, mud, and straw to the Mesa, making Adobe for the construction. Giant ponderosa pine timber was also hand-carried up to the Mesa from over 40 miles away as 60 foot high wooden pillars hand carved in red and white designs.

    The Pueblo Lands Act of 1924 appropriate much of their stolen lands back to them. Protestant missionaries invaded the area bringing alternative faiths to Catholicism as well as Christian influenced schools. The Burea of Indian Affairs forced many of the Acoma children to attend boarding schools, taking the kids from their parents. Much of the ancient ways were lost in process since many elders passed away before the children returned. What children returned often chose Western ways and was no longer interested in ancient traditions. The Church and Acoma village was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and by 2007 became a National Trust for Historic Preservation Site. There are roughly 300 two-three story adobe buildings atop the Mesa with exterior ladders accessing the upper levels where residents live. The Mesa is now accessed by a road built in the 1950’s for Hollywood Film sets needing to bring in studio equipment for movie productions. There are less than 30 Acoma who live atop the Mesa today. There are roughly 60,000 tourists each year visiting the site. The village is not permitted to have running water, electricity, nor sewage disposal atop the Mesa in order to preserve ancient traditions. There is a reservation that surrounds the Mesa, roughly 600 square miles, where most tribal members live while the others live in modern day local cities hosting casinos, restaurants, gas stations, and shops. Today, it is believed that many of their ancestral beliefs and traditions are still practiced in secret from Westerners while also practicing Catholicism, the faith that was forced upon them since Euro-American and Spanish contact. They believe in creating harmony between their people and nature. The sun is seen as their creator Deity. Their world is balanced by the mountains, their community, the sun above, and the earth below. Their religious ceremonies revolve around the weather. They utilize kachinas in their rituals. They would worship in their kivas. The Acoma speak both English and Acoma, while their elders may also speak Spanish. There are less than 5,000 Acoma left today. The government is managed by the cacique (head of the Pueblo) and the war captain who manage the tribe until they die. These individuals maintain strong religious connections to all the work they do as tradition dictates. There is also the All Indian Pueblo Council that began in 1598 and helps manage Indian affairs. They manage over 500,000 acres of traditional Acoma lands consisting of valleys, hills, arroyos, and mesas. Tribal councils, staff, and the governor is appointed by the cacique. Besides Government subsidies, their major income is Tourism.

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    posuwaegah (outside of Taos, NM)

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    Posuwaegeh means “drink-water place” or “place to drink” in the Towa language. the posuwaegeh pueblo is located 16 miles north of Santa Fe and is the smallest of the six Tewa villages. There were 177 Native Americans living there in 1990. Their language is Kiowa-Tanoan. They are believed like all other Puebloan culture peoples to come from the Anasazi of the Four Corners region (Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Salmon, and Aztec) as well as possibly Mogollon peoples around 1200 CE. This area has been occupied pretty constantly since 900 CE growing into a major political and cultural center. The Spanish occupied the area around 1598 with settlers, founding the colony of New Mexico. They forced the Indians to pay taxes in crops, cotton, and slave labor, forced them to become Catholics, and attacked their indigenous religions. The Pueblos were renamed by the Spaniards with saint’s names and began to construct churches in the area. The region took an active part in the 1680 Pueblo revolt against the Spanish. Today the Pueblo hosts a market, restaurants, casinos, resorts, and a 18 hole golf course just to the east of the over crossing. The overpass is a popular photo spot of the region, as it is decorated with symbols for mountains, clouds, and whirling logs (infinity symbol).

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    Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Albuquerque, New Mexico

    In the heart of New Mexico lies the state’s most populated city – Albuquerque, which straddles the Rio Grande in the shadow of Sandia Mountains. The 2012 census state over a half a million residents making it the 32nd largest city in America. Its combined region including the cities of Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Placitas, Corrales, Los Lunas, Belen, Bosque Farms, and Albuquerque Santa Fe Las Vegas combined statistical area, gave it a population of 1,146,049 in 2010. Founded in 1706 C.E. as a Spanish colonial outpost called “Ranchos de Alburquerque” it rapidly grew as a thriving center of New Mexico. Starting out as a farming community with a military outpost along the Camino Real, it was the sheep-herding center of its day. Spain setup its military garrison there in 1706 CE, and after 1821, Mexico set up theirs as well. The growing village of Spanish settlements in its early days became Albuquerque named as such by the then provincial governor Don Francisco cuervo y Valdes after the Spanish town of the same name. This Spanish town was named after the Alburquerque family dating from pre-12th century Iberia. The Portugese town it was named after is within the badojoz province of Extremadura region just 15 miles from the Portugese border. However others claim it was named after the Arabic “Al-Barquq” meaning “the plum” mixed with the derivative Galician word “albaricoque” or “the apricot” as it was a fruit brought to New Mexico by Spanish settlers in 1743 C.E. The town was built in the traditional Spanish village pattern with a central plaza surrounded by government buildings, a church, and residences. This is preserved to this day being home to local culture, commerce, and history being dubbed “Old Town Albuquerque” to separate it from modern day tech-querque. Once America took occupation of New Mexico, the city became headquarters for an American military garrison and quartermaster depot from 1846 to 1867. However during the Civil War, Albuquerque was occupied by Confederate troops under General Henry Hopkins Sibley until Union troops pushed them out in April 1862 CE during the Battle of Albuquerque. Once the rails came to town in 1880 CE, it quickly blossomed into New town or New Albuquerque as a haven for settlers, mountain men, and merchants. A true Spanish-Mexican outpost for the Wild West, it was always a place for rising crime.

    Albuquerque is famous for its cultural and scenic beauty, especially with sites like Petroglyph National Monument, the Rio Grande River, its Spanish cultural heritage, and the Sandia Mountains. Today it is home to the University of New Mexico, Kirtland Air Force Base, Sandia National Laboratories, Presbyterian Health Services, and Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute.

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    Sandia Peak Inn, 4614 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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    Sandia Peak Inn
    * 4614 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque, New Mexico *
    A Route 66 styled Inn/motel in Albuquerque, I was a bit hesitant at first with its location as finding it in the darkness was a little un-nerving. It however turned out to be a wonderful inn, with artistic stylized decor, comfortable amenities, and great service. The style was charming with Southwestern flair, and was at a decent price. Beds were comfortable and rooms had flat screen tv, fridge, microwave, free wifi, and the usual amenities. A small continental breakfast with a good selection was free in the morning, and they had a nice indoor pool. Rating: 4 stars out of 5. Visited 11/22/13.

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    The first USGS Gauging Station 1889

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    USGS Gauging Station 1889
    * Embudo, New Mexico * (south of Taos) * http://md.water.usgs.gov/publications/presentations/md-de-dc_rt98/sld002.htm *

    As studying stream and river flow patterns, power, and conductivity became a passion with the U.S. Geological Survey, they established their very first gauging station in 1889 along the Rio Grande River near Embudo, New Mexico. Here they collected stream flow information for scientific reports, studies, and analysis. Directed by John Wesley Powell, Irrigation Survey personnel (branch of the U.S. Geological Survey) developed procedures here that could be utilized for creating reliable stream flow estimates and was believed to be an important item to inventory in the arid west prior to settlement of the region. Once the methodology was solidified here near Embudo, the staff went to collect data at other western locations. Within two years, they also began collecting stream flow data along the Eastern United States, starting on the Potomac River at Chain Bridge near Washington D.C. on May 1, 1891. By 1895, measurements were being conducted in over 27 states. Today the USGS currently operates over 7000 gauging stations nation-wide. This helps us to understand the discharge of the stream, power of current, floodplain mapping, velocity, flood warnings, flood forecasting, and annual flow volumes. This is located just south of Taos, New Mexico.

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    Taos Pueblo

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    Taos Pueblo * Pueblo de Taos * ?a?ophym?p?h??oth??olbo * *
    * Taos, New Mexico * www.taospueblo.com * ca. 1000 C.E./1450 C.E. to Present day *

    As a southwestern Archaeologist, I have always been inspired and intrigued with the Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community that has been designated as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as a National Historic Landmark. Aesthetically its a great example of adobe architecture and Puebloan culture. “Taos” was borrowed from the Spanish word “Taos” (t??o) meaning “village”, translating “Taos Pueblo” to “village in the village”. “Pueblo” means “the village” or “in the village” in the anglicized writing of the name, and given the namesake as “Taos Pueblo”, its true name however in the Taos language is “?a?ophym?p?h??oth??olbo” meaning “at Red Willow Canyon Mouth”. These multi-storied adobe structures have been continuously inhabited for over a 1000 years. As a part of the Eight Northern Pueblos, this community is known for being one of the most conservative, secretive, and private of those in existing Puebloan culture. The village is atop a 95,000 acre sized reservation with over 4,500 inhabitants. The Red Willow Creek (Rio Pueblo de Taos) runs through the village as a small stream flowing into the middle of the community, fed by the headwaters sprung for the from spring and snow melt of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The pueblo is noted for its multi-storied residential complex, consisting of adobe architecture with reddish-brown mud-clay construction that is divided into two parts by the Red Willow Creek. Most of the Taos buildings originally had few windows or doors and were accessed by square holes in the roof led down by long climbing wooden ladders. Roofs were supported by large cedar logs with layers of branches, grass, mud, and plaster covering it all. The Pueblo wall completely enclosed the village back in the day and much taller for protection (today they are short or missing elements). The north side of the Pueblo is the most photographed and painted buildings in North America as they are representative of the largest multi-storied Pueblo structures still in existence. The walls are several feet thick for defensive strategy, and until 1900 C.E. only accessed from ladders in the roof. Homes usually have two rooms, one for living/sleeping and the other for cooking/storage. Each house is self-contained with no passageways between the houses. In early days, they were minimal with furnishings but today have beds, chairs, tables, counters, etc. There has never been electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing permitted in the Taos Pueblo. Kivas are scattered around the Pueblo utilized for council meetings and spiritual rites.

    There is controversial debate on exactly when it was built, but estimated construction is between 1000 C.E. and 1450 C.E. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on October 9, 1960 and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. The original Pueblo Indians (including the Taos Native Americans) settled along the Rio Grande River after migrating from the Four Corners Region as their ancestry come from the Anasazi people who built the ruins in that area (Aztec Ruins, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, etc.) forced to move on by a devastating drought in the 13th century of the Common Era. The waters of the Rio Grande River were more dependable. This Pueblo became a trade center for most of the native Populations of the area including the Plains tribes, often hosting a trade fair every fall after the agricultural harvest. Their spirituality was very Pagan, animistic, and shamanistic in belief structure which was almost demolished by Catholicism and Christianity after contact. The first Spanish to arrive was in 1540 C.E. from the Francisco Vsquez de Coronado expedition in search of the Seven Cities of Gold. By 1620 C.E., San Geronimo de Taos Catholic church was constructed, albeit numerous resistance attempts from the local Taos Native Americans. Resistance against the Catholic faith was hardcore at this time. However, as tensions grew between the Euro-American and Spanish settlers invading the area as well as between the Plains Indians and amongst their own peoples, the 1600’s C.E. of this region was in major upheaval and change. Churches were burnt, settlers were killed, priests murdered, and the grand Pueblo Revolt of 1680 (CE) took foot. The Taos people killed all three priests and destroyed the San Geronimo church. It was rebuilt for a third time by the end of the 18th century and relations between the Spanish and Puebloan culture found a level of peace finding strength coming together to defeat another invader, the Comanche and Ute Indian Tribes from the North and East. Resistance towards Catholicism was still strong.

    As New Mexico came under control of the United States away from Mexico, officially becoming a territory in 1847 C.E. the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed with a grand peace requested and cherished. This did not last long as another revolt broke out in this Pueblo, when the Taos Pueblo leader “Tomasito” teamed together with the Mexican leader “Pablo Montoya” instigated a rebellion of Native Americans and Mexicans who refused to become part of the United States. They killed the then Governor Charles Bent while marching onto Santa Fe, followed by refuge in the Geronimo Mission Church. The Church was attacked by American troops, onslaught murder of the rebels and taking the others hostage, once again demolishing the church. It was rebuilt a fourth time in 1850 C.E. near the west gate of the Pueblo wall. The ruins can be seen today in the grave yard.

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    In the early 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt took 48,000 acres of land from the Pueblo designating it as the Carson National Forest. This was returned back to the Pueblo in 1970 by President Nixon, and in 1996 an additional 764 acres were given back to the Pueblo covering their sacred Blue Lake – a magical body of water integrated into early Taos Puebloan belief structure.

    Today the Taos Puebloan Peoples practice two spiritual practices – the original indigenous spiritual tradition and Roman Catholicism. It is said that the majority of the Taos Indians still practice their old ways even though 90% of their members have been baptized as Roman Catholics. From my experiences however, it is very apparent that much of the old ways have been destroyed by Catholicism. When I asked many Native American vendors in the Pueblo about certain meanings of various stones, symbols, or items (many of which are common knowledge items of lore today) – the response issued that they didn’t know, said there was nothing special about it, or that there was no lore associated with them. This demonstrated to me that either they were keeping secret even that which is common mainstream knowledge, or the general populace in the Pueblo has lost their cultural mythos and lore, which was very saddening to me. In talking to some Puebloan contacts, many say the ancient traditions are still practiced, albeit in secret away from white folk, or that they are now Christian or Catholic in practice. The concept of “community” however has not changed amongst Puebloan culture. Their phrase “we are in one nest” has been the supportive cohesive glue keeping the community together. The other aspect is “family” with high tribute and respect for their ancestors, elders, and parents. Often pictures, photos, or items belonging to ancestors or parents would be found in the homes or shops – a part of ancestral worship in like. Descent is respected from both the father and mother’s side (patrilineal and matrilineal) and although each family lives in a separate dwelling, they come together for family issues, and everyone is available to help care for the children. The elderly teach the young values and traditions of the culture with hopes of securing and preserving Taos Puebloan culture for generations to come.

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    World Cup Cafe (Taos, NM)

    World Cup Cafe
    * 102A Paseo Del Pueblo Sur * Taos, NM 87571 * 575-737-5299 *

    A great little coffee shop in the heart of Taos‘ City Center / Plaza, in northern New Mexico. While parking is not all that convenient, finding a space is worth it for a cup o’ joe here. The Italian soda is nice, the chai spicy, and the drinks good. Service is average, and prices are fair. World Cup has its own charm … Rated: 4 stars out of 5. Visited 11/22/2013.

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    Paul Koudounaris’ lecture on Heavenly Bodies : Spectacular Jeweled Skeletons

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    Paul Koudounaris: Heavenly Bodies
    * Lecture, Slide Show, and Book Signing * The Strange Factory * Albuquerque, New Mexico * Friday, November 22, 2013 *

    A race from Taos to Albuquerque to visit a friend’s lecture on his amazing discoveries about decorative skeletons was a whirlwind by itself, but would up to be an incredible night of magic, gold, jewels, and folklore. We wandered into the Strange Factory a little late as a snow storm slowed our travels on site, but were warmed with awe as we saw some of the works that Paul Koudounaris exhibited in his presentation. A astute author and photographer from Los Angeles, California; Paul K was presenting at the oddities shop called “the Strange Factory” in the University district of Albuquerque. Paul K’s charnel house and ossuary research has broken research milestones in folklore, oddities, and macabre art. This evenings lecture covered those of human skeletons found in Catholic churches adorned with gold and gemstones. He is a leading expert on bone-decorated shrines and religious structures.
    Paul Koudounaris, PhD in Art History (UCLA 2004) is an author and photographer from Los Angeles that specializes in Baroque-era Northern European Art. His charnel house and ossuary research and photos have made him a well-known figure in the field of macabre art, and he is a leading expert in the history of bone-decorated shrines, human remains, religious art, and religious structures.He obtained a PhD in Art History from UCLA in 2004, with a specialty in Baroque-era Northern European Art. He began his research in 2006 studying the use of human remains in religious ritual and as a decorative element in sacred spaces, especially within the context of the Catholic Church. He began researching the existence of these pieces, photographing them, writing about them, and publishing the results in the Prague Post, Fortean Times, and other such publications. He compiled a premiere work on bone-decorated religious structures taking field trips to over 70 sites along four continents, many of which had never been seen or photographed. He released this book as “Heavenly Bodies” in 2013 through Thames and Hudson. This story told the tale of a group of skeletons removed from the Roman catacombs during the 17th century decorated with jewels by various nuns. These bones were at first mistakenly identified as Christian martyrs and shipped to Germanic churches, decorated, and placed in the altars. Through time, most of these were removed, disposed of or thrown into storage during the Enlightenment. He tracked down the corpses’ locations, documented them, and photographed them for for book. This book followed his successful masterpiece “The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses” in 2011. The presentation was well spoken and masterfully done to a full house in attendance.

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    Farmhouse cafe and bakery (El Prado, NM)

    Farmhouse Cafe and Bakery

    * 1405 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, El Prado, NM 87529 * (575) 758-5683 *
    (Located outside of Taos, New Mexico)

    This cafe was a delightful gem as we pulled to the plaza in which its buried behind a few stores in as a “last chance” food stop heading from Taos towards the Rio Grande Gorge and Bridge. A snowy cold afternoon, we were surprised to find a gluten-free, free-range, organic bakery / cafe / restaurant with offerings to our required palate. I was a bit hesitant at first as the meal took a bit longer than I’m used to waiting for, but I was very pleased with the masterpiece we received. The food was delicious, wholeheartedly healthy, and satisfying. In addition we were blessed with the ability to meet the owner, and she graced us with a gift of some home-made flan since we had been waiting a bit. Definitely a location we’ll be dropping by in our future visits to Taos area. With offerings for vegans, vegetarians, free-rangarians, and the gluten-free crowd, you can’t go wrong with this farm-to-table venue. They also offer free wifi, outdoor dining, private party space, and a great cafe to read, relax, and socialize in. We were on-the-go, so were taking out so next time will definitely stay awhile.

    According to taos news in their article about this new cafe to Taos, Micah Roseberry, the owner opened on August 21st of 2013 as she had been farming in Northern New Mexico for over 25 years and wanted to bring the farm directly to the table, and therefore Farmhouse cafe was born. All of the produce comes right from the farm outside of the restaurant or from her farm up in Cerro, as are the flowers, and those that do not come from her farm are delivered via organic free-range farms from the local community. She’s into community and building a local food system as her non-GMO organic market. They serve breakfast and lunch as well as a farmer’s market where locals can sell their produce every wednesday from 3-6 pm.

    Our first visit awards this great cafe a 4 1/2 stars out of 5. 11/22/2013.

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    Roswell, New Mexico

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    Roswell, New Mexico

    The “All-American City” or so it is branded by themselves, Roswell was a hometown to me from the 3rd grade until senior year of High School. Oh the fond memories of this dust-bowl of a town who’s prime entertainment for the high school youth was “dragging’ main street” every weekend to see who was “out and about” and hanging out in the Sonic drive-in. Of course many shenanigans went on making out at the Lover’s lane hill overlooking the city, or making love in the rocks at Bottomless Lakes State Park when our parents thought we were at the library or prom. Of course those mischievous few of us spent many days (and evenings) partying or exploring the Missile silos on the outskirts of town. Bonfires in the control room was a special kind of ambiance. Of course, we all heard the legends and rumors of the “UFO crash”, alien abductions, alien autopsies, and secret military bases – but that’s all they were … legends. Now these green or gray skinned aliens don the cities light-posts and is a theme park attraction to every gift shop, fast food joint, hotel, and wal-mart. The downtown theater we once partied to “Rocky Horror” has mutated to its own science fiction picture show as one of the world’s magnets for UFO experts, enthusiasts, and crazies as the International UFO Museum.

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    Roswell represents and is in the county seat of Chaves County fluctuating annually in population growth as business boom, close, die, diminish or become reborn. It now boasts a population of 48,000 inhabitants in 2012 celebrating its standing as being New Mexico’s fifth largest city. Outside of UFO’s and aliens, Roswell’ites make their living with irrigation farming, dairy farms, ranching, petroleum, manufacture, and distribution. It was never really a tourist trap, UNTIL … the aliens arrived. It was however home of Bottomless Lakes State Park, Bitter Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, and the New Mexico Military Institute (1891). The 1947 UFO crash made it the most popular, other than that it was a central point for some very famous people including Robert H. Goddard who invented the Rocket. No wonder those “hush-hush” secret military bases set up shop in this small hick town of tumbleweeds. Other famous inhabitants were Patrick Garrett the Sheriff, John Chisum the Pioneer, Demi Moore the Actress, John Denver the folk singer, Nancy Lopez the LPGA golf pro, Austin St. John the first Red Power Ranger, UFO Phil the singer, and Tom Brookshier the Pro Football player.

    The UFO crash has much lore, legend, and news stories surrounding it – taking place just outside of town to upwards of 75 miles away near Corona. Whatever crashed there, was hauled into the local Roswell Army Air Field, the “then” secret military base for much dark mysteries … or so they say. On July 8, 1947 the Roswell Daily Record reported the “capture” of a “flying saucer” by the U.S. Government, hauling the ship and its inhabitants to the Walker Air Force Base. the U.S. Government to this day maintains it was debris from an “experimental” high-altitude helium weather and surveillance balloon. A high level military official from the base apparently came on to record to state it was actually a spaceship crash with alien bodies captured. It has been believed to be one of the U.S. Government’s most infamous cover-ups. This incident has led to Roswell’s Alien Craze.

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    Roswell was first inhabited by Native Americans who were pushed out by Euro-American Aliens – a group of pioneers from Missouri who started up the first Euro-American settlement 15 miles southwest of present day Roswell in 1865. They ran out of water however, so had to abandon this “Missouri Plaza”. Hispanics moved in from Lincoln, New Mexico as did John Chisum with his famous Jingle Bob Ranch 5 miles from Roswell’s current downtown. In 1869 two business-men from Omaha, Nebraska named Van C. Smith and Aaron Wilburn set up shop in what is now downtown Roswell building two adobe buildings – the general store, post office, and make-shift hotel. This gave birth to the “True” Roswell. Van’s father was Roswell Smith, whom he named the town after. By 1877, Captain Joseph Calloway Lea and his family bought out Smith and Wilburn, becoming the largest land-holders of the area. The town survived the Lincoln County War from 1877-1879 and by 1890 local merchant Nathan Jaffa struck clear gold when he sprung water tapping a major aquifer while digging a well in his back yard giving major growth and development opportunities for the area. The Railroad came through town by 1893. When World War II struck the country, the military set up a prisoner of war camp near Orchard Park holding Germans forcing labor on them to build Roswell’s infrastructure, especially paving the banks of the North Spring River. A iron cross can be found on the north bank built by the Germans in the Roswell Spring River Zoo. By the 1930’s, Robert H. Goddard popularized Roswell with his early rocketry work bringing in the military heavier from 1941 to 1967. Ruined by alien autopsy conspiracies and economic down-turn, the Walker Air Force base was finally DE-commissioned as were the 22 missile silos surrounding the city.

    Located on the high plains, Roswell experiences the four seasons with cold winters, mild warm springs, very hot summers. Monsoons are common during the summer months with torrential downpours, thunderstorms, high winds, hail, and tornadoes.

    Resources and Links:
    * This list is not complete. These links and resources are reflected only of places visited while exploring the city and surroundings. Please check back for future additions.

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    Roswell UFO Museum

    Roswell UFO Museum and Research Center
    * Roswell, New Mexico *

    A whirlwind of change since the days when I grew up in Roswell, as quickly as I moved out of town the city was infected with an Alien Craze over the legendary UFO Crash that took place there in the 40’s. The Center throws an annual UFO convention as well as talks, workshops, archives, and resources that attracts over a million tourists a year to this small little town. The Museum has a pretty complete archive of all UFO crashes, sightings, and investigations in the area as well as an extensive reading library for any visiting researchers. The Center focuses on solving the mysteries of all things alien and extraterrestrial. The admission is rather steep for the size of the museum, but is worth a gander for any alien enthusiast. The gift shop has expanded since the last time I visited, but the shops along main street have more souvenir offerings than the museum does. Rating: 3 stars out of 5. ~ Thomas Baurley. Visited 9/11/2012, 11/21/2013, 06/27/2018

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    Roswell Spring Hill Zoo

    Spring Hill Zoo
    * 1306 E. College Blvd., Roswell, NM 88203 *505-624-6760 *

    Spending elementary, middle, and high school in Roswell, this was our local “Disneyland” outside of Carlsbad Caverns. A nice sized park for picnicking and outdoor activities, a free zoo, a petting zoo, duck ponds, cycling/jogging/walking trails, and green space. A five mile hard surface recreational trail that runs along the Spring River from west to east. The zoo is the only one of its kind and the only free zoo available in New Mexico. It also has its own youth fishing lake (age 15 and younger only can fish). There is an antique carousel and miniature train that runs through the park. The zoo features a prairie dog town, longhorn ranch, and children’s petting zoo. There are also exhibits of native and exotic animals, birds, and critters including bobcats, foxes, bison, owls, raccoons, antelope, deer, mountain lions, and black bear. Fun filled for children, its quite dusty and hot to visit. On more than once when I’ve visited, I’ve found it a bit unsanitary which is sad as I don’t remember it being that way. Rating: 3 stars out of 5.

    Along the North Bank is a World War II German POW landmark that a working crew created of a German Iron Cross in the side of the river’s stone work.

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    Bottomless Lakes State Park (Roswell, NM)

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    Bottomless Lakes State Park
    * Roswell, New Mexico, USA *

    The memories of Bottomless Lakes State Park … it was my family and friend’s swimming hole and playground while growing up in Roswell, New Mexico. Bottomless Lakes provided much cooling off during the hot and dry summers of the desert. Only Fifteen miles from Roswell, the Lakes are Located along the Pecos River, and are a series of natural caves and sinkholes forming lakes used for recreation. The parks were established in 1933 and was the first State Park founded in New Mexico. There are Eleven small deep lakes along the escarpment of the Pecos River Valley that represents the remains of an ancient limestone reef. Caves formed within this limestone and eventually collapsed via erosion creating sinkholes or “cenotes” as round circular lakes or swimming holes. One of the largest lakes is Lea Lake and Lazy Lagoon, providing a large sandy shoreline that outdoor recreational visitors can use for picnicking, camping, outdoor sports, and swimming. Lazy Lagoon is the largest of the lakes and spans over 26 acres as a single lake but is made up of three interconnected sink holes. The lagoon is level with the salt flats which gives it an appearance of being very shallow, where in contrast, it is actually quite deep – over 90 feet deep. As opposed to the old days, Lea Lake is the only lake in which swimming is allowed, due to accidents that occurred in the others, especially Devil’s Inkwell.

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    The shallowest is Pasture Lake with a depth of 18 feet and a surface of .76 acres. The deepest are Lea Lake (90 feet deep – only one that allows swimming) and Lazy Lagoon (90 feet/ 26 acres). The smallest of the lakes, is the darkest, known for its color, steep sides, and algae growth, called “the Devil’s Inkwell” and is approximately .36 of an acre. Figure 8 Lake is actually two lakes separated by a thin beach that seasonally gets covered making it look like one lake at times. The circular shapes connecting create the figure 8 symbol. Cottonwood Lake is 30 feet deep, and Mirror Lake at 50 feet. The Lakes are fed by underground streams and aquifers perculating through the rocks up into the catchment holes. The lakes are home to various endangered species and all of the park’s lakes are protected. The four known endangered species found at the park are the Cricket Frog, Eastern Barking Frog, Rainwater Killifish, and the Pecos Pupfish.

    The lakes were originally visited frequently by Prehistoric Indians of the region, and in the 1500’s were said to have been visited by Spanish Conquistadors searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. While the Conquistadors did not record their visitation, it is said that the Native Americans drew a petroglyph at the Lakes depicting a Spanish Conquistador riding a horse according to John LeMay’s book “Legends and Lore of Bottomless Lakes” having also appeared in the Roswell New Mexico Centennial Magazine as well.

    According to legend, the lakes got their name as “Bottomless” because the outlaw Billy the Kid and his gang who once hid out in the bluffs supposedly dipped their ropes in one lake to see how deep it was and they didn’t hit bottom so called it “Bottomless”. The deepest lake is Leah Lake at 90 feet.

    There are numerous legends surrounding the lakes from a Octopus Man, giant turtles, giant catfish, a White Ghost Horse, and a Dragon. There are many legends of people drowning in the muddy depths and being transported by an Underground Artesian river and cave system to Carlsbad Caverns, giant turtles eating people who went missing there, sheep and horses reportedly been swallowed by the lakes, and numerous cars. The only evidence of such legends are remnants of cars at the bottom. Some say atop the lakes cliffs and bluffs, teens had drag-raced and lost their cars over the edges into the lakes. A local boater claimed to have seen a giant turtle surface in the 1980’s large enough to claim Nessie was in the lake and that it came to eat him.

    Rating: 5 stars out of 5. ~ Thomas Baurley and Leaf McGowan.

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      The Eleven lakes are:

    1. Lazy Lagoon – one of the two deepest at 90 feet with a 26.1 acre surface area.
    2. Cottonwood Lake – 27.5 feet deep with .52 acres of surface area and having natural shade over it.
    3. Mirror Lake North – 32.8 feete deep with 3 acres of surface area.
    4. Mirror Lake south – 43.3 feet deep, .44 acre surface area.
    5. Devil’s Inkwell – 28.2 feet deep, .36 acre surface area, has dark algae in it that makes it appear darker than others.
    6. Figure 8 Lake North – 37 feet deep, 1.46 acre surface area. Forms a figure 8 with Figure 8 Lake South, but is an independent lake.
    7. Figure 8 Lake South – 22 feet deep, .76 acre surface area. Forms a figure 8 with Figure 8 Lake North, but is an independent lake.
    8. Pasture Lake – 18 feet deep, the shallowest of the lakes, having a .76 surface area.
    9. Lost Lake – The depth is unknown, and has a surface area of .1 acre.
    10. Lea Lake: the deepest of the lakes with a maximum depth of 90 feet, 2nd largest in acreage at 15 acres surface area. Only lake where swimming is currently allowed and hosts a daily spring flow of 2.5 million gallons.
    11. Dimmit Lake – unknown depth, made up of two basins covering 10 acres, is privately owned.

    More Information:

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