The Museums at Philmont Scout Ranch

Philmont Scout Ranch is located on what once was part of the Maxwell Land Grant. The land was later purchased by Oklahoma oilman Waite Phillips. Phillips named his ranch Philmont, combination of his name and the Spanish word monte, or mountain. In 1938, Phillips made the first of two gifts of his New Mexico ranch to the Boy Scouts of America to establish a national wilderness camping area.

Today, Philmont Scout Ranch is more than just a wilderness camp. It also houses the National Volunteer Training Center for the Boy Scouts and three distinct museums. Continue reading

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City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Riders Memorial Collection

Las Vegas MuseumDid 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

Columbus Historical Museum

Columbus is famous for having been invaded by Pancho Villa in 1916.
As the Mexican Revolution raged to the south, most Americans felt little threat. In Columbus, residents felt secure: a detachment of 350 U.S. Army soldiers from the 13th Calvary were stationed at Camp Furlong on the town’s outskirts, between Mexico and Columbus. But at 1 a.m. on March 9, 1916, about 500 Mexican revolutionaries, led by General Francisco “Pancho” Villa, crossed into the United States. Villa divided his troops and attacked Columbus from the southwest at approximately 4:20 a.m. This attack caught the entire town, as well as the Army camp, by surprise.

The Villistas concerned themselves more with raiding than killing, otherwise the town might have been erased. The Villistas burned and pillaged the business district. The Army camp and stables received little damage, even though the horses and armaments must have been attractive to the raiders. Alerted by the gunfire and burning buildings, many Columbus residents fled to the desert, or sought refuge in the school house, the Hoover Hotel, or private homes.

U.S. Army officers and soldiers, awakened by the commotion, set up a Benet-Mercier machine gun in front of the Hoover Hotel. Another machine gun set up on East Boundary Street fired north and caught anyone in the intersection of Broadway and East Boundary in a deadly crossfire. The raid lasted until dawn, or approximately 90 minutes. The death toll totaled 70 to 75 Villistas and 18 dead Americans, most of them civilians.

Whatever the reasons for the attack, its result was immediate: Columbus residents experienced a boom. General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing arrived in Columbus to lead a punitive expedition into Mexico to find and capture Pancho Villa. Columbus became the expedition’s home base. By late 1916, due to the growth of military personnel, Columbus had the largest population of any New Mexican city.

Columbus-Historical-Society-MuseumThe Columbus Historical Museum is housed in the old El Paso Southwestern rail station, which was built in 1902 to connect El Paso, Texas to Douglas, Arizona. The railroad used the depot until 1961 when it was abandoned. The building then became a meeting place for the local Boy Scouts troop and then a library and newspaper office. The museum is staffed by volunteers, and its displays tell the story of the Columbus – and the famous Villa raid.

Address: Intersection of Highways 9 and 11, Columbus, NM 88029
Phone: 575-531-2620
Hours: Open Daily, September – April 10 am – 4 pm, May – August 10 am – 1 pm
Closed most holidays
Website: http://www.columbushistoricalsociety.org/
Admission: No charge

 

Silver City Museum

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.

Silver City Museum 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
Email: info@silvercitymuseum.org
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Mondays.
Website: www.silvercitymuseum.org/
Admission: $3 suggested donation

 

The Lordsburg/Hidalgo County Museum

Lordsburg was once a transportation and commercial hub for southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. Phelps Dodge ran the Playas Smelter nearby and the local economy was built on ranching, farming (cotton and roses), and mining. The main highway ran through town and into southern Arizona and an international crossing to Mexico was just south at Antelope Wells. Students, including former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, came from the surrounding area in both New Mexico and Arizona to attend school. During World War II, an internment camp outside of Lordsburg held German prisoners of war.

However, when Interstate 10 was built, it bypassed Lordsburg, and the town has suffered economically as a result.

Lordsburg-museum

The Lordsburg/Hidalgo County Museum is housed in the old Hidalgo County Armory. The museum covers the area’s history. A premier and extensive exhibitLordsburg/Hidalgo County Museum exhibits is on New Mexico’s various World War II internment camps. This exhibit began as a traveling exhibit funded by the New Mexico Humanities Council and is now housed permanently in Lordsburg.

Address: 710 East 2nd Street, Lordsburg, NM 88045
Phone:     575-542-9086
Hours:     Monday through Friday, 1 to 5 p.m.
Website: http://www.lordsburghidalgocounty.net/museum.htm
Admission: Free

Nearby you can also visit the ghost town, Shakespeare. Originally known as Mexican Springs, Shakespeare was a mining boom town on the Butterfield Overland Stage Trail. The town survived until 1932 and in 1935, it was purchased by the Hill family of Lordsburg. The town is known for its wild history that includes tales of Billy the Kid as well as, lesser known outlaws such as Russian Bill and Sandy King. The museum and visitor center are open two Saturdays a month when there are also tours and re-enactments about life in the town. There are occasional public tours offered for a donation. Call 575-542-9034 for the schedule. There are no private tours.