Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Village has fascinating history

Travel is more than seeing of sights. It is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. - Miriam Beard, historian

Yesterday's tour of the village and today's time at the historical museum in the village and the small temporary museum at the RV Park does remind me of how blessed I am.

As to the history of the area, it is extremely interesting. Here's a very condensed version:
In 1902 the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad was completed, and a depot was built to handle the three trains a day.

In 1912, the U.S. 13th Cavalry set up Camp Furlong just south of the depot; this increased the trains to 10 a day. As its name implies, this was a mounted army that had horse/mule drawn supply wagons.

At that time the village - looking just like those movie-set towns in old westerns - also had two hotels, several stores and a bank in the business district, a school and homes.

Before daylight on March 9, 1916, Mexican bandit Pancho Villa and his 600-plus bandits (Villistas) raided the village of Columbus and the Army's Camp Furlong. It was completely unexpected. Villa's final staging place for the raid was the property that now makes up Pancho Villa State Park, which is across the road from the railroad station.

Villagers and army personnel were sleeping. When the army was alerted, it took some time to find the keys that would unlock the armory where all their guns and ammunition were stored.
Practically every business was broken into and looted, and the rickety wooden buildings were burned. The raid lasted until just after daylight. When the Villistas retreated, they were briefly pursued by 59 troopers and four officers. Eight soldiers, ten civilians and two hundred-plus Villistas died in the raid.

One week later, General John J. Pershing entered Mexico with several thousand troops in pursuit of Villa. They chased him around Mexico - called a Punitive Expedition - to no avail before returning to Camp Furlong 11 months later.

Camp Furlong was the site of the first army/air corps airfield, saw the first of the motorized support vehicles - and built the first elevated "grease rack" to maintain those vehicles. Several of these vehicles and early airplanes are at the park and will soon be housed in a new military museum there.

After roaming the museums, I was invited to join the L.O.W.s for their weekly trip to the Pink Store/Restaurant across the border in Palomas. (LOW stands for Loners on Wheels)This is a national organization for singles; one of their club-owned RV parks is nearby in Deming. The restaurant serves "Mexican, Mexican food" as opposed to New Mexican, Mexican, etc. There were about 30 for the lunch. The Pink Store serves a complimentary Margarita, and they don't skimp on the alcohol!

Here is more of the Farmer's Advice:

* Every path has a few puddles.
* When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
* The best sermons are lived, not preached.
* Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.
* Don't judge folks by their relatives.
* Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
* Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
* Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't botherin' you none.
* Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.