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 site where Silver City is now situated was first used as an Apache campsite and later as a Spanish copper mining center. Silver City itself was founded about 1870 after the discovery of silver. The 1870s were tumultuous and the town was the site of the first crime committed by a local kid, known at the time as William Bonney, and more widely known as Billy the Kid. Silver City became a commercial center for local mining operations and also became an education center for the southwestern part of the state with the building of the New Mexico Normal School (now Western New Mexico University) in 1893.
The Silver City Museum has a permanent exhibition on Silver City’s history, including a display of an 1880s parlor and a reconstructed office from the nearby mining town of Tyrone. Other permanent displays tell about southwest New Mexico’s mining history and Silver City’s early mercantile commerce.
The museum hosts frequently changing exhibits as well as lectures and special events.
The museum’s collection includes some 20,000 objects relating to the peoples and history of southwest New Mexico. The museum also has a research library that is available to the public, along with a bookstore/gift shop.
The Silver City Museum opened in 1967. The museum is housed in the restored 1881 Mansard/Italianate H.B. Ailman house. The house was built for Harry Ailman, a prominent Silver City miner, merchant and banker. During the early 1920s, the city purchased the house for use as the town hall. In 1931, the town added a firehouse garage to the back of the building. The building was used as a fire station until about 1970.
Address: 312 W. Broadway, Silver City, NM 88061
Phone: 575-538-5921, 1-877-777-7947
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Mondays.
Admission: $3 suggested donation
The Western New Mexico University Museum has the world’s most comprehensive permanent exhibition of prehistoric Mimbres Mogollon pottery and artifacts. Exhibits include separate displays of basketry, footwear, cordage, stone tools, and stone and shell jewelry.
The museum also has exhibits about the history of WNMU and the Silver City area, the Scott Nichols Buggy Collection, American Indian tourist items, and a collection of mining tools.
The museum is located in Fleming Hall on the WNMU campus. The building was built between 1916 and 1917 to house the gymnasium and a science hall for what was then the New Mexico Normal School. Fleming Hall later served as the University library before it became home for the museum in 1974.
Address: Western New Mexico University Museum, Fleming Hall, 1000 W. College Avenue, Silver City, NM 88062
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Also worth seeing while in the area:
The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, operated by the National Park Service, are what remains of a series of interlinked dwellings built in five cliff alcoves. The dwellings were built by the Mogollon peoples, probably around 1300.
Visiting the dwellings requires hiking a well-traveled, 1-mile trail loop with several foot bridges over a stream. The walk takes about an hour. The first half of the trail, which takes you to the dwellings, is up hill. Some of the trial is steep. After you visit the dwellings, the trail is all down hill.
There’s a small museum near the trailhead with displays about nature and wildlife. The visitor center, which is a few miles from the trailhead, also has a small museum that focuses on the dwellings. A looping video tells the story of the cliff dwellers.
Address: 44 New Mexico 15, Silver City, NM 88061
The cliff dwellings are in the Gila Wilderness within the Gila National Forest on NM 15. Although the distance from Silver City is 44 miles, the drive takes about 2 hours because of the winding mountain road. (An alternative is along NM 35 through the Mimbres Valley, which is 25 miles longer but less winding and easier to drive, so it takes about 2 hours, too.)
Hours: Cliff Dwellings: Daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Last visitors are allowed on the trail at 4 p.m., and must be off the trail by 5 p.m.)
Visitor center: Daily, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Admission: Fees are collected at a self-self station at the trailhead to the cliff dwellings, so bring exact change or a check. (You can pay by credit card at the visitor center.) Families, $10. Adults, $3. Children age 15 and younger, free.
Raton Pass had been used by Spanish explorers and Indians for centuries to cut through the Rocky Mountain. The trail was too rough for wagons on the Santa Fe Trail. The town of Raton (Spanish for “mouse,” but literally meaning “large rat”) was founded at the site of Willow Springs, a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. In 1879, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway bought a local toll road and established a busy rail line. Other smaller railroad companies also had lines that ran from Raton west and south to carry various resources to market. Raton quickly developed as a railroad, mining and ranching center for the northeast part of the New Mexico territory, as well as the county seat and principal trading center of the area. The Raton area was part of the richest area for coal mining west of the Mississippi. Nearby Dawson, New Mexico was the site of the second worst coal mining disaster in US history. Continue reading
The Western Heritage Museum focuses on the history of Lea County and the neighboring area in northwestern Texas. It is a region where cowboys and oil-and-gas industry workers meet and mix. The museum includes exhibits showing life on the Llano Estacado from prehistoric times to the present. There is archaeology, ranching, cowboys, buffalo soldiers, and exhibits about the oil-and-gas industry. A restored Eclipse windmill recalls a time when windmills were used on ranches throughout the area.
The Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame was founded in 1978. It features the many rodeo world champions who come from Lea County (more champions come from Lea County than any other county in the United States). In addition to memorials, many artifacts reflect aspects of the rodeo and cowboy life.
Address: 1 Thunderbird Circle, Hobbs, NM 88240
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m., Monday by appointment only
Admission: Adults, $3; seniors 65 and older, $2; students $2, children 5 and under, free.