27 February 2009
From 1877 Lincoln, New Mexico, I traveled into the the future to July 8, 1947
It was here that the mystery of the Roswell Incident began.
Legend has it that a UFO [some say two] crashed on the Plains of San Agustine near Corona, NM -- 75 miles away from Roswell no less!!!
Rancher William "Mac" Brazel reported finding pieces of the aircraft, er spacecraft... to local authorities who in turn reported it to the Air Force Base at Roswell, NM
They took the reported tin foil, er materials and.... well, here... YOU listen to the actual radio report....
Personally I had never heard of the incident while growing up on and off in New Mexico. In fact it wasn't until 1991 when I came across the book UFO CRASH AT ROSWELL that I was even aware of it.
That book along with the National Enquirer story on the incident turned it into a pop phenomenon.
Songs, movies and even a television show have been made on the subject.
Needless to say the legend lives on and people continue to make money off of it... LOTS of money. So much money a $25 million dollar UFO museum and research center is being built in Roswell!!!!
Humorously enough it is directly across the street from a UFO shaped McDonalds. Aliens are 'luvin' it!!
But before that museum is built I took a drive to the incredibly CHEEEZY current UFO Museum and Research Center. I was really hoping to see some odd if not funny stuff. NOT!!
The majority of the museum consists of framed articles and newspaper clippings and photos hanging on the wall. There are a few interesting model/dioramas but that is pretty much it. The gift shop is cool though... UFO related gifts for the curious in all of us.
Is it worth it driving four hours to see it? Uh.. not exclusively unless you count the cool alien stuff I picked up....lol.
Actually I stopped because it was on the way to my next destination and blog report.... but that's another story.
Oh yeah... FYI: Roswell, NM is the home of Leprino Foods, one of the worlds's largest mozzarella factories. Either way... ya gotta love cheese.
UP NEXT: AT THE EARTH'S CORE!!
Here's a peek:
26 February 2009
The Lincoln County War, John Chisum, John Tunstall, Alexander McSween, Murphy Dolan Mercantile, Deputies James Bell and Robert Ollinger, Pat Garrett and some fellow named William McCarty...aka William H Bonney...aka...Billy the Kid.
If you are a fan of westerns or western history these are names you will recognize. I wrote about Billy the Kid and his death last year when I visited Billy the Kids grave in Ft Sumner, NM.
While I was in Capitan, NM checking out Smokey Bears grave, the lady at the gift shop mentioned to me that the town of Lincoln, NM was not far away.
I remembered right off how this was once called "the most violent town in New Mexico" back in the late 18oo's.
Lincoln, NM today is a quiet rural town. However; in 1877 it was the sight of the Lincoln County War. A war between wealthy ranchers, led by John Chisum and the wealthy proprietors of the Murphy-Dolan Store.
In the late 1870s, a wealthy Englishman named John Tunstall arrived in Lincoln County, New Mexico hoping to set up a profitable cattle ranch. However, he soon discovered that Lincoln County was controlled both economically and politically by Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan, the proprietors of Murphy & Dolan Mercantile and Banking, the only store in the county.
Tunstall would also soon learn that Murphy and Dolan, who owned large cattle ranches themselves, had obtained incredibly lucrative beef contracts from the United States Army, essentially holding a monopoly on the county's beef trade. But Tunstall found others in Lincoln County who shared a dislike for Murphy and Dolan and others within in their circle, which was known as "the House."
Backed by another wealthy rancher, John Chisum, Tunstall and Alexander McSween, a lawyer, opened a rival general store, H.H. Tunstall and Company, in an attempt to break Murphy and Dolan's hold on Lincoln County.
But Murphy and Dolan chose not to give up their monopoly lightly. In February of 1878 they obtained a court order to seize some of Tunstall's horses as payment for a supposedly outstanding debt. When Tunstall refused to turn over the horses, the county sheriff, William Brady formed a posse. The posse contained many members of a gang of outlaws known as the Jessie Evans Gang, including a youthful Billy the Kid, as well as outlaw William Bresnahan, better known as Curly Bill Brocious, who would become infamous as the nemesis of lawman Wyatt Earp.
On February 18, 1878, members of the Dolan posse cornered Tunstall in rural Lincoln County. When the rancher challenged the deputies, he was shot dead by Jessie Evans, William Morton, Frank Baker and Tom Hill. Tunstall's murder was witnessed from a distance by several of his men, including Billy the Kid.
Tunstall's murder is considered the event that officially marked the beginning of the Lincoln County War.
Loving the Old West as I do, I had to go to Lincoln and walk the same streets as Billy the Kid and Sheriff Pat Garrett.
It was in Lincoln where after being captured by Pat Garrett the first time, Billy the Kid shot two deputies at the Lincoln County Courthouse and escaped. The courthouse is still standing today as is the Worthington Hotel and the Torreon where Murphy's sharpshooters held out against the calvary, even the Murphy Dolan Store preserved!! I LOVE THIS SH*T!!
To be able to walk the streets of history!! [K-Mo I'm even more jealous you went to Tombstone -- you lucky bugger!!]
If you ever find yourself along NM 380 stop by for a visit with history.
In front of the Murphy Dolan Mercantile Store
This is the Torreon where Murphy's sharpshooters held off the US Calvery when they were called in to intervene in the Lincoln County War.
The Lincoln County Courthouse still stands to day.
It is here that Billy the Kid was held by Pat Garrett. When Pat Garrett left Billy with two deputies, Billy asked to go to the outhouse. Although under guard by Deputy Bell, Billy found a gun left by one of his gang in the outhouse.
This is how the events unfolded in the movie, PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID:
In actuality there is no window at the base of the stairs. Deputy Bell was shot on the stairs, leaving a big bullet hole in the wall. The window is a bit of dramatic license. Here is video of the actual place:
The interior of the courthouse.
In 2007 it had been suggested that Billy's grave be exhumed to reveal if in fact Billy was buried in Ft Sumner.
Governor Bill Richardson said no.
The tourist dollar is mightier then the truth.
25 February 2009
Originally this post was to be about the infamous murders in a small southern New Mexico town I was in this past weekend but current local events have put the spotlight on Albuquerque.
Today police announced the discovery of an 11th body on the west side of town in an area being developed. So far two have been identified as prostitutes [ one was with child ].
24 February 2009
[click on image to enlarge]
I was not aware I was so close to this historical sight. From what I have been able to find out, the Trinity sight IS open only twice a year, once in April [I will be on vacation so I cannot visit then] and once in October. On the visit you are taken to ground zero. That's right, the actual spot where the first Atomic Bomb was dropped.
I have to do this!! Even if it means I will come away 'glowing'.
23 February 2009
On May 4th, 1950 a carelessly discarded cigarette started the Los Tablos blaze which led to the Capitan Gap Fire in the Lincoln National Forest in southern New Mexico, ultimately consuming 17,ooo acres in the Capitan Mountains.
70 mile an hour winds made it impossible to control the blaze, trapping 19 fire-fighters and countless animals. The men managed to survive the blaze and expressed the opinion, "now we know how a piece of toast feels".
From this fire, a fire crew emerged with a badly singed bear cub who they found clinging to a burnt pine tree. His buttocks and feet had been seriously burned.
He was named Hotfoot Teddy.
His injuries were tended to but it was Game Warden Ray Bell who flew with Hotfoot Teddy to Santa Fe to seek additional treatment. It was here the story was picked up by the national news.
Warden Bell and Hotfoot Teddys lives were about to change.
But first.... flash back to 1944. World War 2 is raging across Europe and the Pacific.
America at war.
Timber is badly needed for the war effort and a campaign is started by the United States Forest Service to educate people about the dangers of forest fires. At this time colorful posters were created by the Ad Council informing the public on the dangers of forest fires.
Walt Disney had just released BAMBI and had allowed the forest service to use characters from the film for the use of fire prevention. Bambi was only on loan to the government for a year after which time, a new symbol was needed.
Sticking with the popular animal theme, a bear was chosen.
His name was inspired by "Smoky" Joe Martin, a New York Fire Department hero who shrugged off burns and blindness in a 1922 rescue effort. The character would officially be called Smokey Bear [not Smokey the bear].
Above is the very first poster with the new mascot of the forest service. It was created by Albert Staehle and debuted in 1944. The poster below is still in use today. It was created by Rudolph Wendelin.
The 'Smokey' campaign was so successful that in 1952 Congress passed a bill into law governing the commercialization of the name and image. In 195o when the Hotfoot Teddy story broke nationally, it was decided by the National Forest Service to re-name him Smokey Bear. He became an instant celebrity.
The new Smokey and Game Warden Bell were featured in LIFE magazine cementing Smokey's star status. Soon after, Smokey was flown to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. where he lived for 26 years. Upon his death on November 9th, 1976, Smokey's remains were flown back to Capitan, New Mexico and buried in what is now called Smokey Bear Historical Park.
It was on this past weekend I set out to find the resting place of Smokey Bear and pay my respects.
Should your journey start out in Albuquerque, head south on I-25. Just past Socorro take NM 380 south to Capitan, NM. On your right side you will see the Smokey Bear Historic Park. The park has a visitor's center. Admission is $2 Start out by watching the short film on Smokey's Life.
There is alot of Smokey memorabilia and material from over the years.
Take the walk in the gardens.
It is here where you will find Smokey's grave.
Rest in peace, Smokey.
[right click to read tombstone]
Due to the vast amount of mail Smokey was receiving, in 1964 Smokey was given his own zip code: 20252
or GOOGLE: SMOKEY BEAR PARK.
UP NEXT: Murder in a Small Town.