Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders came from New Mexico? Visit the City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Riders Memorial Collection to find out about New Mexico’s role in the iconic group of fighters from the Spanish American War. Las Vegas hosted the Rough Rider Reunions for many years and much of the memorabilia and artifacts relating to the 1st Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, better known as the Rough Riders is at the museum. Continue reading
The Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village was established in 1974 to preserve stories from Aztec, a town founded in 1887, and the surrounding area. The main museum once served as the Aztec City Hall and Fire Station. After you go downstairs in the main building, you will step out into the Pioneer Village – a collection of 12 buildings, some of which were moved to the site. The buildings include an old jail, a print shop, a church, a log cabin, a blacksmith’s shop, a bank and a post office. Continue reading
Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum opened in the spring of 2000. The museum is designed around the region’s rich heritage as one of the earth’s premier deposits of fossilized ancient life. At the opening the College began the only associate of Arts degree in Palaeontology in the United States and they also opened their foundry to making bronze casts of dinosaur skeletons. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of bronze skeletons, fossils and replicas of prehistoric creatures.
The museum is located in a building that was once a grocery store. The main exhibit hall houses replicated and original fossils, from tiny footprint casts to a 40-foot-long skeleton of a Torvosaurus, a rare carnivore that is related to Tyrannosaurus rex. Recently, the museum has received donations to augment their collection – most recently, they received a collection of minerals and fossils from Howard Shanks. A spacious, well-equipped paleontology/geology laboratory (with a large storage area for collections not on exhibit but available for study), a classroom and offices are also located the museum. A large observation window in the laboratory allows visitors to observe students and staff preparing specimens.
Since 2005, its students have discovered four new dinosaur species within 23 miles of Tucumcari; you can see these displayed at the museum. Every summer, one-week field courses are offered to the public (these can be customized for special-interest groups). School tours can be scheduled throughout the year. There is also a children’s area, “Kid’s Digs,” where Bootz, the rodeo dinosaur, lives and can be ridden as part of the children’s play.
The museum’s gift shop sells scientific and educational books, rocks and minerals, fossils, clothing, games, teaching aids, gift items and souvenirs and more.
Address: 222 East Laughlin Street, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Hours: Winter (Labor Day through February): Tuesday through Saturday, 12:00 pm to 5:00 p.m. Summer (March through Labor Day): Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.)
Admission: Adults, $6.50. Children 5 to 11, $4.00. Children under 5, free. Seniors 65 and over, $5.50.
Portales, the county seat for Roosevelt County, was founded in 1898 as a construction camp for railroad workers. The area was already a ranching center that grew up because of the presence of local fresh water springs. Today, the area is known for Valencia peanuts and dairy production. In 1934, Portales was chosen as the site for a normal school for the eastern part of the state. Eastern New Mexico University has grown to the third largest institution of higher education in the state. There are many small museums located in and around Portales.
ENMU campus, itself, provides a home for four museums, and also has an art gallery, Runnels Gallery, and the Jack Williamson Science Fiction Library both located in the campus library.
Roosevelt County Museum
Founded in 1940, the Roosevelt County Museum is located on northern end of the ENMU campus. The museum documents the rich material culture of Roosevelt County – there is clothing, antique furniture, equipment from local ranches including a peanut roaster from the 1890s, examples of changing technology such as an Edison phonograph, old typewriters, and a dentist’s office. Of particular interest, the museum also owns one of the few examples of a 47-star United States flag.
Address: ENMU campus, near Highway 70 (which is also West 2nd Street).
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Weekend hours vary during summer months.
Admission: Donations appreciated.
Natural History Museum
Miles Anthropology Museum
Miles Mineral Museum
The Natural History Museum and the Miles Mineral Museum are located in adjacent rooms in ENMU’s Roosevelt Hall.
The Natural History Museum features live animals, as well as study skins and mounted specimens from eastern New Mexico and west Texas, with an emphasis on the natural history of the Llano Estacado, the name for the geographic region. There is a systematic research collection shows region’s flora and fauna. The Natural History Museum is part of the University’s biology department.
The Miles Mineral Museum features the mineral collection of Fred and Gladys Miles, who began collecting mineral and fossil specimens along the Pecos River after they moved to Roswell, New Mexico, in 1928. They collected archaeological and anthropological specimens, along with quartz crystals called Pecos Valley Diamonds. For several decades, Mr. Miles displayed his collection in the back room of his Texaco service station on Second Street in Roswell. ENMU purchased the Miles collection in 1966, which included about 2,500 geological, archaeological and anthropological specimens and opened the Miles Mineral Museum in 1969. It now includes additional specimens that have been donated or purchased.
The Miles Anthropology Museum is also located in Roosevelt Hall in a space that was once the first Dining Hall on the campus. The museum is home to various anthropological and archeological specimens collected by Fred and Gladys Miles and to other collections from digs in the region. This museum has irregular hours depending upon the school schedule.
Location: Roosevelt Hall, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, NM 88130
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday by appointment.