Raton Museum

Raton Museum

Raton Museum front windowRaton 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

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Museums on the Eastern New Mexico University Campus

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

roosevelt_outsideFounded 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).
Phone: 575-562-2592
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.
Website: http://www.enmu.edu/services/museums/roosevelt-county/index.shtml
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.

Miles-Min--1The 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
Phone: 575-562-2706
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday by appointment.
Admission: Free

 

Tucumcari Historical Society and Research Center

Tucumcari was originally a railroad construction camp, called Ragtown, for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. The town name was changed to Tucumcari in 1908 – taking the name of Tucumcari Mountain, a regional landmark.  It became a ranching center because of the railroad lines coming  into the town. When the famous Route 66 was built, Tucumcari became famous as a stopping point largely because of their billboard advertisements that proclaimed, “Tucumcari Tonight.” The building of the Interstate System and I40 has caused the decline in tourism as it is easy to whiz past Tucumcari on the highway. It is worth a stop.

Tucumcari-MuseumThe Tucumcari Historical Museum and Research Center is housed in a three-story brick building dating from 1903 that originally served as the town’s first public school. The museum and research center occupy an entire city block with several buildings and various vehicles. The grounds are landscaped with native plants, and you will find many vehicles, including a caboose, a F100 Vietnam-era jet, a chuck wagon, a doctor’s buggy, and an adobe horno where bread is baked twice a year.

The museum is chock-a-block with artifacts from all over Quay County, including rocks, fossils, and archaeological finds, ranching and farm items, an old moonshine still, and an iron lung. There is also an exhibit about Route 66 and its Tucumcari/Quay County history.

Address: 416 South Adams Street, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Phone:    575-461-4201
Email:     museum@cityoftucumcari.com
Hours:    Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $2.50; children 6 to 15, $0.75.

New Mexico Route 66 Museum

Tucumcari is also home to an emerging museum devoted to Route 66 and its history and association with Tucumcari and New Mexico. The Museum is located in the back of the parking lot for the Tucumcari Convention Center. The exhibits include vintage cars, gas pumps, neon signs, and photographs.

Address: 1500 Highway 66, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Hours:     9:00 am – 2:00 pm, Monday – Friday
Websitehttp://www.nmrt66museum.org/
Admission: Free, Donations accepted.

Herzstein Memorial Museum

The town of Clayton was established in 1887 as a railroad stop. It started as a tent town with three saloons, a livery stable, two small hotels of sorts and a general store. Clayton was a waypoint for trade caravans and homesteaders traveling on the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail. The first train arrived March 20, 1888, on newly laid tracks. The town became a livestock-shipping center for herds from the Pecos River and the Texas Panhandle.

Herzstein Museum, ClaytonThe Herzstein Memorial Museum is run by the Union County Historical Society. The museum seeks to preserve the history of the city of Clayton and Union County. Named for the pioneering merchant family of Albert Herzstein, the museum is housed in a former Methodist Episcopal Church with a history of its own: The building also once served as a local community center with basketball courts, it housed the public library, and was the venue for many community gatherings. The Historical Society acquired the building in 1972. The museum opened the following year. Continue reading