January 2020

History Lessons

Taking a Look Back column by John McVey Middagh

See also: At the Museum

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns

Braintrust Bag Lunch — The free monthly outdoor mini-lecture series at Magoffin Home State historic Site, 1120 Magoffin is noon Wednesday, Jan. 8. Guest speaker is Machelle Wood on “Celebrating Joseph Magoffin.” Bring a bag lunch and some friends. Information: 533-5147, visitmagoffinhome.com or Facebook.

Southwest Chapter of Railway & Locomotive Historical Society — The society meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, at El Sarape Restaurant, 5103 Montana. Program is "Big Boy Visit in El Paso.” Visitors welcome. Information: 591-2326.

Fort Bayard Tours — Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society host walking tours of the historic fort 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at each Saturday at Fort Bayard National Historic Landmark, six miles east of Silver City, N.M. off U.S. 180. Tour begins at Commanding Officer’s Quarter and museum (House 26). Tour takes about 90 minutes; call for time. Admission is free, but donations appreciated. Information, group tours: (575) 388-4477 or (575) 574-8779 or (970) 222-2433. Web: fortbayard.org
  Fort Bayard served as an army post from 1866 to 1899 and army tuberculosis hospital from 1899 to 1920.
  The “Rising to the Challenge: Allied World War II” Winter Film Series runs Jan. 9-March 19 at 7 p.m. Thursday at Santa Clara Armory. Admission is free. See “Film Scene” for schedule.
  Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society will host the annual membership dinner at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at Cross Point Church on Hwy 180 East in Silver City. Guest speaker Doug Hocking presents “Terror on the Santa Fe Trail.” Reservations: (575) 574-2573.

Harvey Girls of El Paso — The Harvey Girls of El Paso Texas meet at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, at Union Depot Passenger Station, 700 San Francisco. Program is “Fred Harvey Legacy Continues.” Visitors welcome. Admission is free. Information: 591-2326.

El Paso Corral of the Westerners — The monthly dinner program of El Paso Corral of the Westerners International #26 is 6 p.m. Friday, Jan 17, at Holiday Inn El Paso-West 900 Sunland Park Drive at I-10. Program is “The Apache Origins of El Paso,” presented by Max Grossman. Cost: $20 (includes dinner and program). Visitors welcome; RSVP needed by Jan. 13: 759-9538.

Old Fort Bliss — Building 5054, corner of Pershing and Pleasanton Roads, Fort Bliss. The Old West days of the “Soldiers of the Pass” are relived through replicas of the original adobe fort buildings and military artifacts of the Magoffinsville Post, 1854 to 1868. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; by appointment only Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 568-4518 or 588-8482 or on Facebook at Old Fort Bliss.

Chamizal National Memorial — 800 S. San Marcial. The National Park Service operates the memorial on land once claimed by Mexico as part of a decades-long dispute over the international boundary. The visitor center has an exhibit on the history of the Chamizal dispute, including a video presentation. Park grounds and picnic area open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for both foot traffic and vehicles; visitor’s center hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 532-7273 or on Facebook at ChamizalNationalMemorial.
  “Tales, Tails and Tots” stories and visits with park mascot Chami are 11 to 11:30 a.m. for ages 3-6 the fourth Saturday of each month.

El Paso History Radio Show — The show runs 10:05 a.m. to noon Saturdays on KTSM AM 690 (and streamed at KTSMRadio.com). Documentary filmmaker Jackson Polk hosts the show with reenactor and historian Melissa Sargent. Details of each upcoming show, plus podcasts of previous programs, are at EPHistory.com.

El Paso Mission Trail Visitor Center — El Paso Mission Trail Association’s center supporting the three historic churches in the Mission Valley — Ysleta Mission, Socorro Mission and San Elizario Chapel — is at 6095 Alameda (at Zaragoza). Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Admission is free. Information 790-0661, 851-9997 or visitelpasomissiontrail.com.

Fort Bliss Historical Association — The group meets at 1 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Fort Bliss museum complex, 1735 Marshall. Information: 269-4831. Dues are $25 a year ($10 students and junior enlisted soldiers).

Los Portales Museum and Visitor Center — 1521 San Elizario Road. The museum is operated by the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society, and is housed in an 1850s Territorial-style building across from the San Elizario church. It offers gifts, family trees, historical artifacts as well as information on the “First Thanksgiving” and the Salt War of 1877. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Information: 851-1682.

Mission Trail — Three historic churches lie within eight miles of each other in El Paso County’s Mission Valley.
• Mission Ysleta — Spanish and Tigua Indian refugees from northern New Mexico founded the community in the 1680s. The first mission was built in 1692 and rebuilt completely in both the 18th and 19th centuries. The current structure was built in 1851. It’s near Zaragoza and Alameda on the Tigua Reservation. Information: 851-9997 (El Paso Mission Trail Association).
• Mission Socorro — The first adobe structure in Socorro was built in 1692, and like nearby Mission Ysleta, was destroyed by floods in later centuries. The current structure dates back to 1843, with additions completed in 1873. It’s off Socorro Road two miles southeast of Ysleta.
• San Elizario Chapel — Established in 1789 as a Spanish presidio, or fort, to protect the Camino Real, San Elizario was the first county seat of El Paso. The church was built in 1877, replacing a church built about 25 years earlier. Technically, San Elizario Chapel is a presidio church, not a mission. It’s on the San Elizario plaza, off Socorro Road, 5.5 miles southeast of Socorro Mission. Nearby is the famous jail that Billy the Kid reportedly broke into to rescue a friend. Group tours are available. For San Elizario tour information, call 851-1682.

San Elizario Veterans Museum and Memorial Walk — The museum, operated and managed by the non-profit San Elizario Veterans Committee of the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society, is at 1501-B Main Street in San Elizario. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Information: Ann Lara, 345-3741 or Ray Borrego, 383-8529.

San Elizario walking tours — The San Elizario Historic District hosts free, guided walking tours of its nationally recognized historic district at noon and 3 p.m. the fourth Sunday of the month starting at Main Street Mercantile, 1501 Main Street. Learn about the 17 historic sites of San Elizario, about the arrival of Don Juan de Onate to the area in 1598 and the First Thanksgiving Celebration, the Presidio de San Elizario and the San Elcear Chapel on the Mission Trail. Information: 851-0093 or SanElizarioHistoricDistrict.org.
  To get there: Take Loop 375 to Socorro Road then go east seven miles to San Elizario. District is on the right. Look for the brown signs.

Scottish Rite Temple tour — The Downtown El Paso historic landmark, 301 W. Missouri, is open to the public for a free walking tour at 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Learn about El Paso’s Masonic history, the design and architecture of the theater. Information: 533-4409.

Fort Selden State Monument — The monument, 1280 Fort Selden Road in Radium Springs, 13 miles north of Las Cruces, is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5; (ages 16 and under free). New Mexico residents enter free the first Sunday of each month. Free entry each Wednesday for seniors. Information: (575) 526-8911, (575) 202-1638, or nmmonuments.org.
  Fort Selden was a 19th century adobe fort established to protect early settlers. The monument seeks to preserve the remaining ruins and has a visitor’s center with exhibits of military life at the post. From Las Cruces, take I-25 north to Exit 19.

Fort Stanton — The fort, 7 miles southeast of Capitan, N.M., was established and built in 1855 by troopers of the 1st Dragoon Regiment to serve as a base of operations against the Mescalero Apache Indians. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday (Hours may be shorter in winter — call for schedule). Admission is free. Information: (575) 354-0341, fortstanton.org.

Shakespeare Ghost Town — The small pioneer settlement and mining town on the trail to California is just south of Lordsburg, N.M. A 1½-hour tour at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday on the second weekend of the month; call to confirm. Cost is $4 ($3 ages 6-12). Information: (575) 542-9034 or shakespeareghostown.com.
  To get there: From Lordsburg, take the Main Street exit (Exit 22) from Interstate 10 and turn south. Follow signs to Shakespeare.

Taking a Look Back column by John McVey Middagh

Company teaches horses, cowboys


In the last few years, our children have stepped up when it comes to planning family trips and other responsibilities we used to handle entirely ourselves. All appreciated, for sure, but wondering why now? Maybe they sense our advancing age requires an extra hand now and then.
On one recent weekend my son John and daughter-in-law Jacki set up a two-day trip to Lubbock. They’d left on Thursday. Jacki saw to the motel reservation, making sure our room involved no climbing of stairs. They took care of the meals and arena stadium seats, only telling Cecilia and me where to meet.
We left early Saturday morning, driving up U.S. 180/62 through Carlsbad, N.M. and on to Lubbock. Our GPS guided us to Texas Tech’s South Plains Livestock Stadium and Fairgrounds where we found the family. Our grandson had already ridden his first bronco that day.
The arena was buzzing with activity, maybe 27 to 30 youngsters and 75 good-looking bucking horses were present, provided by Ace High Rough-Stock Academy. The grandstands in the covered arena were filled with moms, dads, wives, girlfriends and the boyfriend of the one woman rider.
The young woman was trying it out for the first time. I visited with her and found out she was in college and had been working on ranches in Wyoming. She rode three during the days I watched. On her first two horses she seemed a little sketchy but on the third she looked better. She was smiling, getting up off the dirt after each ride.
The family that hosted this event have a large ranch outside of Kimball, Colo., where where they breed and raise these horses to buck. A herd of 500, I was told. These horses are mostly left alone for the first five years of their lives except for worming, when they are gathered and run through a chute.
The event that Cecilia and I witnessed was the first time these horses had been gathered and loaded into double-decker cow-pots (trailers), then brought some 500 miles to be bucked out of a chute with a man aboard.
Remember a horse’s greatest fear is a mountain lion jumping on its back. Flight and fight are how they naturally react. By the time Cecilia and I saw them buck out, some had already been though the process several times.
It was school for the cowboys and the horses. The company invites the young riders to come for free, and feeds them two meals a day. The instructors are national rodeo champions. Medical attendants are on stand-by during all times. The family holds several schools a year around our Southwest. The next one might be in Alpine, Texas at Sul Ross University.
The company was a wonderful host. Turns out that providing all this for free was a win-win for everybody. The company needed to school their horses, find out which ones perform best and might go on to the pro rodeo circuit or other competitions. The young cowboys needed the experience.
The horses were in very good shape, strong and healthy looking. I never saw one mistreated in any manner. Just the opposite, time was taken at every juncture seeing to their care. The riders also were watched and schooled every step of the way.
It was an enjoyable weekend. We all left together going straight south to I-20, then a little more south to visit No. 2 granddaughter and her new husband. They manage a large ranch a few miles south of Pecos. After that short visit Cecilia and I backtracked to I-20 for the late-night drive home. Another story of me coffee-ing up and my night vision glasses.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a fine trip our daughter Christina and our grandson Owen took Cecilia and me on a few months back. A trip I’d been wanting to take for a long time, staying overnight in Las Vegas, N.M. a history-riddled town northeast of Santa Fe. The town dates to the 1870s and was noted for being one of the roughest towns in the West at the time.
So, once again, I thank my children for their consideration. Keep it up.

John McVey Middagh is a former
saddle shop owner. You can reach
him at jmiddagh@yahoo.com.

El Paso Scene MONTHLY
This month's listings, stories and columns

Feature story
Here's the Ticket
Program Notes
On Stage
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
History Lessons
Film Scene
Keep on Bookin'
Liner Notes
Stage Talk
Gallery Talk


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