Legends of America Photo Prints: Blog https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog en-us (C) www.legendsofamerica.com (Legends of America Photo Prints) Fri, 19 Apr 2024 19:43:00 GMT Fri, 19 Apr 2024 19:43:00 GMT https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/img/s/v-12/u83229107-o603934654-50.jpg Legends of America Photo Prints: Blog https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog 120 61 Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in Missouri https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2024/4/dogwood-canyon-nature-park-in-missouri DogwoodCanyonBuildingsDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - BuildingsPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


Near the small town of Lampe, in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a privately owned venture started with one intention: connect Missourians with Nature while preserving it. 


Osage - Camp, 1906Osage - Camp, 1906Osage camp, by O. Drum, 1906.


The area that encompasses Dogwood Canyon has a rich history dating back thousands of years, with evidence of Native American presence found in the region.


DogwoodCanyonCliffsDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - CliffsPhoto by Dave Alexander.


Tribes such as the Osage and Delaware are known to have inhabited the Ozarks. Archaeologists have discovered artifacts here, including arrowheads, pottery fragments, tools, and ceremonial objects in natural caves throughout the canyon. 


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Waterfall Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Waterfall There were numerous waterfalls throughout the park. Photo by Dave Alexander.


Described as one of the oldest landforms in North America, Dogwood Canyon's geological formations contain layers of ancient sedimentary rock that have preserved fossils from prehistoric times. Fossilized remains of plants, animals, and marine creatures have been found in the area, providing valuable information about the ancient ecosystems that existed millions of years ago.


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Eagle in TreeDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Eagle in TreeAn Eagle is perched at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. Photo by Dave Alexander.


In 1990, Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, purchased a couple thousand acres in Dogwood Canyon with the intention of preserving its natural beauty and wildlife habitats. 


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - TroutDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - TroutThere's an area not far from the entrance where you can feed the trout next to a waterfall. They looked pretty happy. Photo by Dave Alexander.
You can fish here without a license but can't keep your catch.  The trout were plentiful during our visit. 


DogwoodCanyonStoneBridgeDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Stone BridgePhoto by Kathy Alexander.

Under Morris's ownership, Dogwood Canyon was transformed into a nature park open to the public. Extensive efforts were made to maintain and enhance the canyon's natural beauty while also making it accessible to visitors through the creation of hiking trails, bridges, and other amenities. It has grown to 10,000 acres.


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Stone Bridge WaterfallDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Stone Bridge WaterfallLoved the way they created the stone water crossings. Photo by Kathy Alexander.


Under Morris's ownership, extensive efforts were made to maintain and enhance the canyon's natural beauty while also making it accessible to visitors, like this natural stone bridge that also acts as a waterfall. 


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Elk Bison Area EntranceDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Elk Bison Area EntrancePhoto by Dave Alexander.


Alongside developing the park for recreational purposes, Morris and his team have placed a strong emphasis on conservation. They've implemented various initiatives to protect and restore the natural habitats within Dogwood Canyon, including habitat restoration projects and wildlife conservation efforts.


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - WildlifeDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - WildlifeDogwood Canyon Nature Park is a stunning natural area located in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri. The Elk and Bison Area are part of the 10,000-acre park that crosses into Arkansas. Photo by Dave Alexander.


A portion of the park crosses into Arkansas and includes Bison, Elk, Longhorn cattle, and other wildlife.  


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Bison & ElkDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Bison & ElkBison (Buffalo) and Elk intermingle at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in SouthWest Missouri. Photo by Dave Alexander.


During our visit in early April, we took the Tram Tour, a two-hour guided tour that covered a large part of the Nature Park. There are several tram tours scheduled throughout the day to choose from. Our tour guide, Rachel, was a hoot and very knowledgeable. 


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - ElkDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - ElkElk at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. Photo by Dave Alexander.


The park also offers guided wildlife tours and guided horseback riding tours for visitors with all riding experience levels, and you can even rent a bike and take in the beauty on the many bike trails. 


DogwoodCanyonAnimalsDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Stuffed AnimalsPhoto by Kathy Alexander


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park remains a popular destination for nature lovers, offering hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, and more. It serves as a model for how private ownership can preserve and protect ecologically significant areas while also providing educational and recreational opportunities for the public.


DogwoodCanyonWaterWheel-2Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Water WheelPhoto by Kathy Alexander.
Educational programs and events for all ages range from nature hikes to conservation workshops. 


DogwoodCanyonMountainLionDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Mountain LionPhoto by Dave Alexander.

Dogwood Nature and Conservation Center features table top displays of live local creatures and learning activities. Don't fret, this isn't one of the live ones. 


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Dogwood StreamDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Dogwood StreamDogwoods in bloom in early April 2024 at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. Photo by Dave Alexander.


The park features designated picnic areas where you can relax and enjoy a meal while taking in the scenic landscape. 


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Waterfall - 6Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Waterfall - 6Photo by Dave Alexander.


We timed our arrival at the park during the early days of the Dogwood Bloom.


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Dogwood TreeDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Dogwood TreeDogwoods in bloom in early April 2024 at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. Photo by Dave Alexander.


These beautiful white-flowered trees grow wild here, but another species of Dogwood has also been planted throughout the park along the trails. 


Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Glory HoleDogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Glory Hole - 2Photo by Dave Alexander.


You can visit Dogwood Nature Park during every season and see and experience something new. The park hosts special events such as festivals, outdoor concerts, and seasonal celebrations throughout the year, providing additional opportunities to experience its beauty and charm.


DogwoodCanyonWaterFall-5Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, MO - Water Fall - 5Photo by Kathy Alexander.


You should consider planning ahead for this visit. We purchased our admission and tram tour tickets online a couple of days before. They scanned the email confirmation from our phone, so there wasn't a need to print anything; however, beware: wireless signals aren't the best here, so you may want to save the PDF confirmation attachment to your phone beforehand. I noticed that the park has wifi, but we didn't use it.  Although it is a bit expensive to enter and take a guided tour, we think this park was well worth the admission price. 

For more information, see their official website: Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.


Dogwood Canyon Nature ParkDogwood Canyon Nature Park

Also, See our Dogwood Canyon Nature Park Photo Collection


Make it a multiple-day stay and enjoy nearby Branson, Missouri!

Til next time, safe travels and adventures to all. 


For RV'ers and Campers 

LOA at Mill Creek Campground Lampe MOLegends of America at Mill CreekMill Creek Campground, Table Rock Lake, MO


While visiting Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, we stayed on Table Rock Lake just outside of Lampe, MO, at Mill Creek Campground. Run by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, we secured our senior discount staying here by using our America the Beautiful National Park Pass.  There are 67 reservable campsites here, showers & Bathrooms, electric and water hookups, and a dump station.  It's a great place for a family to get away with a travel trailer.  We enjoyed this 3-night stay, although if we were to do it again, we would push further into late April.  Missouri is too iffy between winter and spring, from March into April. 

You can see more and make reservations via their website here





(Legends of America Photo Prints) bison dogwood canyon nature park education elk longhorns missouri trout waterfalls wildlife https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2024/4/dogwood-canyon-nature-park-in-missouri Mon, 15 Apr 2024 17:40:29 GMT
Adventure from Alamosa - Dunes to Ruins https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2023/9/adventure-from-alamosa Looking for a "base" to explore parts of Southern Colorado, we landed in Alamosa for a fun few days of exploring the Great National Sand Dunes and the historic mining district of Creede. 



(Jump to Creede)


The San Luis Valley Sandbox - Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO - Mountain ViewGreat Sand Dunes National Park, CO - Mountain ViewPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


Alamosa is located in the San Luis Valley, one of the largest high desert valleys in the world. On the East side of the valley, about a half-hour drive from Alamosa, you'll find the Great Sand Dunes National Park. 


Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO - Lone TreeGreat Sand Dunes National Park, CO - Lone TreePhoto by Dave Alexander, 2023.


The dunes are the tallest in North America, with evidence of humans here dating back 11,000 years. 


Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO - PeopleGreat Sand Dunes National Park, CO - PeoplePhoto by Kathy Alexander.


In more recent times, the Ute, Jicarilla Apache and Navajo all visited and lived in the area of the dunes. The Ute called it So-wop-a-wat translated to "where the sand is". 


Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO - WaterGreat Sand Dunes National Park, CO - WaterA surprising place to get wet -- but also a handy place to then get dry (except when it's raining) -- is Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Alamosa and Saguache counties in Colorado. One finds the obligatory dunes of sand here -- in fact, the tallest in North America, rising in one spot 750 feet above the floor of the San Luis Valley. But to get to a large swath of them, one must wade across one of several (usually shallow) streams flowing along the sand mounds' edge. Most visitors actually relish that opportunity. The streams erode the edge of the dune field, and sand is carried downstream. The water disappears into the ground, depositing sand on the surface. Winds pick up the deposits of sand, and blow them up onto the dune field once again. Photo by Carol Highsmith.


The Spanish were known to have been here around the turn of the 17th Century. Today, the Old Spanish National Historic Trail passes through the Dunes area in which Spanish traders brought their mule pack trains across the southwest. 


Great Sand Dunes, COGreat Sand Dunes, COPhoto by Debra Miller, National Park Service.


Exploration for the United States during Westward Expansion would bring the US Topographical Survey crew through here in 1853.  Captain John Gunnison wrote at the time: 

"Turning the southern base of the sand-hills, over the lowest of which we rode for a short distance, our horses half burying their hoofs only on the windward slopes, but sinking to their knees on the opposite, we for some distance followed the bed of the stream from the pass, now sunk in the sand, and then struck off across the sandy plain…The sand was so heavy that we were six hours and a half in making ten miles…"


Fort Garland, CO - Infantry Barracks InteriorFort Garland, CO - Infantry Barracks InteriorPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


About the same time, Fort Massachusetts was established on the west bank of Ute Creek at the base of nearby Mount Blanca, but the swampy area led the government to relocate six miles south, renaming it to Fort Garland, which is about 20 miles southeast of the Great Sand Dunes.  


Fort Garland, CO - Old FortFort Garland, CO - Old FortFort Garland, Colorado was established in 1858 to protect the settlers in the San Luis Valley, then part of New Mexico Territory. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


The troops, including Buffalo Soldiers, patrolled this region until 1883 protecting both settlers and American Indian tribes. In fact, the 9th Calvalry black regiment once ran out white settlers who had encroached on Ute trible lands. Fort Garland is 27 miles east of Alamosa, and 26 miles south of the dunes.  It is worth exploring while you are near. 


Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO - JoeyGreat Sand Dunes National Park, CO - JoeyOur travel companion, Josephine Esquirrel III (Joey Squirrel) was not impressed with walking around in the sand.


There is a lot to do at the Dunes, including Hiking trails, sandboarding, horseback riding, nature watching, and much more.  We would recommend a full day, if not two, to explore this area. Alamosa, 30 miles to the Southwest, was an excellent place to park for this visit. Although there are closer areas to the dunes to camp, Alamosa had the amenities we were looking for as RVers.

For more information see: Great Sand Dunes National Park via National Park Service 


Also See: 

Old Spanish Trail - Trading Between New Mexico & California

San Luis Valley

The Ute Tribe - Roaming the Rockies

Fort Garland - Frontier Outpost on the Plains

Great Sand Dunes National Park Photo Print Gallery



Creede & the Colorado Historic Mining District - Rio Grande Adventure

Creede, CO - View From AboveCreede, CO - View From AboveA shot from above the town of Creede, Colorado. Photo by Kathy Alexander.


Near the headwaters of the Rio Grande, west of the San Luis Valley, Creede is the town that just wouldn't give up.  


Creede, CO - Rio Grande NearCreede, CO - Rio Grande NearThe Rio Grande River near Creede, Colorado. Photo by Kathy Alexander.

The Upper Rio Grande Valley had long played a part in the lives of indigenous peoples, including the Ute tribe, who transversed the San Juan Mountains based on the season, moving to the valleys in the winter and the high country in the Summer.


Wagon Wheel Gap, COWagon Wheel Gap, COPhoto by Kathy Alexander.

Another attraction for the Natives of Southwest Colorado was the hot springs at what is now known as Wagon Wheel Gap, less than ten miles downriver from where Creede would be established.  It was there that settlers began farming as early as 1840. By the 1870s, stage stations connecting mining camps over the Divide with the East further increased settlement.


Wagon Wheel Gap, CO - Old DepotWagon Wheel Gap, CO - Old DepotPhoto by Kathy Alexander.

Tourism was also on the grow.  Books about the American West helped lure Easterners and European immigrants to the region, and the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad was transporting tourists to Wagon Wheel Gap by 1883 with the opening of a depot. 


Creede, CO - Main StreetCreede, CO - Main StreetPhoto by Kathy Alexander.

The discovery of a high-grade silver vein by Nicholas C. Creede in 1889 started a great rush that would bring thousands to the area seeking their fortune.  By 1891, the population in the area of Creede would swell to over 10,000. 


Creede, CO - Bachelor Loop Commodore Mine - 5Creede, CO - Bachelor Loop Commodore Mine - 5The Commodore Mine on Bachelor Loop by Creede, Colorado.

The Silver Panic of 1893 shuttered most of the mines, but Creede survived to see a small resurgence in the early 1900s, and through 1966 total production included 58 million troy ounces of silver, plus copper, gold, lead and zinc. 


Creede, CO - Bachelor Loop Humphreys MillCreede, CO - Bachelor Loop Humphreys MillHumphreys Mill on Bachelor Loop by Creede Colorado. Photo by Kathy Alexander.

Mining continued until 1985 when the last mine, the Homestake, closed permanently. 


Creede, CO - From Bachelor LoopCreede, CO - From Bachelor LoopA view from Bachelor Loop and the Bulldog interpretive sign of Creede, Colorado. Photo by Dave Alexander

Today, Creede has gone back to its tourism roots. City and County leaders began leading efforts to preserve historic buildings and promote the area’s mining history and scenic views. In 1976, the Creede Historical Society was founded, and during the 1980s, the town developed into a vibrant arts community with galleries, theatres, and cultural events.


Creede, CO - Business BuildingsCreede, CO - Business BuildingsPhoto by Kathy Alexander.

For history buffs, a journey on the Bachelor Loop Historic Driving Tour tops off your Creede Adventure.  Seventeen miles through the historic mining district above Creede, you will experience mining remnants and abandoned camps, tour the Last Chance Mine, and take in the Creede Underground Mining Museum & Community Center adjacent to the loop at the north end of town.


Creede, CO - Bachelor Loop Last Chance MineCreede, CO - Bachelor Loop Last Chance MinePhoto by Kathy Alexander.

The loop’s route includes 14 interpretive pullouts telling the history of the mining operations and abandoned camps, including Bachelor. The East part of the loop is specified for four-wheel drive vehicles as you go up the steep terrain. However, the Western part of the loop is much easier, and traveling this way allows you to go down the mountains on the rough parts if you can’t make the steep climbs.

Creede, CO - Bachelor Loop Weaver Townsite -3Creede, CO - Bachelor Loop Weaver Townsite -3Weaver Townsite, below Last Chance Mine, Bachelor Loop. Photo by Kathy Alexander.

For more on the history, see our article Creede Colorado - Silver & Gold on the Rio Grande

Also See: 

Ghost Towns & Mining Camps of Colorado

Creede & Bachelor Loop Photo Print Gallery


For RVers'

While here we stayed at Cool Sunshine RV Park in Alamosa. Its location between the Great Sand Dunes and the Historic Mining District of Creede made this a great place to stay, with plenty of amenities in town. This is a fairly new RV Park, with good wifi, laundry, an outdoor seating area, and more. 


(Legends of America Photo Prints) Creede Great Sand Dunes National Park historic mining ruins things to do travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2023/9/adventure-from-alamosa Thu, 21 Sep 2023 19:17:58 GMT
A Nation was born here https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2023/3/a-nation-was-born-here  

WashingtonBrazosNationBornWashingtonBrazosNationBornMarker at the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico.


We didn't really plan it this way, but our arrival to Washington On the Brazos State Historic Site coincided with the annual Texas Independence Celebration. 


Washington, TX - Independence Hall ReplicaWashington, TX - Independence Hall ReplicaReplica of Independence Hall on the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence.


Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas, is an unincorporated community along the Brazos River established in 1833. Officially called Washington, it is best known for being the site of the Convention of 1836 and the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836.


Washington, TX - Independence Hall InteriorWashington, TX - Independence Hall Interior


The General Convention, which would decide the fate of Texas, met at Washington on March 1, 1836. The 59 delegates elected from each municipality in Texas convened in an unfinished storefront. 


WashingtonBrazosActors3Washington Brazos ActorsRe-enactors during the Texas Independence Celebration at Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site, 2023.


The delegates met to formally announce Texas’ intention to separate from Mexico and draft a constitution for the new Republic of Texas. They organized an interim government to serve until a permanent one could be formed. They also named Sam Houston as the Commander of the Texas Military. 


Washington Brazos ActorsWashington Brazos ActorsRe-enactors during the Texas Independence Celebration at Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site, 2023.


At the same time of the Convention, participants were receiving word about the siege at the Alamo.  Some wanted to rush to the aid of their fellow Texans without any formal structure of military but calmer heads prevailed. 


Washington Brazos ActorsWashington Brazos ActorsRe-enactors during the Texas Independence Celebration at Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site, 2023.


The delegates adopted their constitution on March 16 and worked through the next day when they had to flee with the residents of Washington to escape Santa Anna’s advancing troops. The convention members signing the Declaration were as good as signing their death warrants if the Revolution failed. They were also putting their families at risk and jeopardizing everything they owned.


Washington, TX - Old GarageWashington, TX - Old Garage


The townspeople returned after the Mexican Army was defeated in April, but economic problems following the Texas Revolution hit Washington hard. A visitor in 1842 said it was “a fine place, but all the fine stores and dwelling houses were most all deserted.” That same year, then President Sam Houston moved the republics government from Austin to Washington after Mexico again invaded San Antonio.  While the capital of the Republic, Washington began to grow. It continued to thrive as a commercial center for the Brazos River cotton trade, even after the seat of the government was moved back to Austin in 1845, the same year Texas was accepted into the Union as a State.


Washington, TX - GroceriesWashington, TX - Groceries


Construction of railroads bypassed the town and established its businesses in nearby Navasota. When the Civil War began, it took another toll on the town, which relied heavily on Slavery for it's primary export of cotton. By the turn of the 20th century, Washington was virtually abandoned.


Washington, TX - Washington Brazos State Historic SiteWashington, TX - Washington Brazos State Historic Site


Today the unincorporated town of Washington, Texas has only a handful of residents but is the home of Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site. The site features a visitors center, the Star of the Republic Museum about the Texas Republic, a replica of Independence Hall where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed, and the Barrington Living History Farm, the home of the last Texas Republic President Anson Jones. The expansive 293-acre park provides a beautiful setting for picnicking, sightseeing, and bird-watching. The Texas Independence Celebration is held the weekend before March 2 each year, unless March 2 lands on a Saturday. 

For more information, see their website Where Texas Became Texas

See our article Washington On the Brazos - Declaring Independence


Also See: 

The Texas Revolution


Navasota, Texas


Navasota, Texas circa 1870sNavasota, Texas circa 1870s

Just a few miles down the road from Washington, Navasota started in 1822 when Francis Holland bought land there. The community was first named Hollandale. In 1831, a Georgia planter, Daniel Arnold, applied for and received a land grant along the Navasota River. Soon after, Daniel Tyler received a land grant in the same vicinity.


Navasota, TX - 1871 Lewis Wilson BuildingNavasota, TX - 1871 Lewis Wilson Building


In 1848 James Nolan set up some tents nearby, and by 1852 he had built a log cabin that became a stage stop. Located where the La Bahía Road crossed the Navasota River and about halfway between Anderson and Washington-on-the-Brazos, the site was a natural crossroads. At that time, the settlement was called Nolansville.


Navasota, TX - Navasota RiverNavasota, TX - Navasota River


The settlement name was changed to Navasota for the river in 1858 when a post office was established. The Navasota River is thought to have been named for the Native American word nabatoto, meaning “muddy water.” We can confirm the muddy part. 


Navasota Railroad TowersNavasota Railroad Towers


After September 1859, when the Houston and Texas Central Railway was built into the town, Navasota became even more important as a shipping and marketing center for the surrounding area.


Navasota Cotton CompressNavasota Cotton Compress
Slavery was integral to the local economy as planters depended on enslaved African Americans to labor for their large plantations. The slaves were brought to the city and sold in the domestic slave trade. They worked primarily in the cotton fields, a major commodity crop. After the Civil War and emancipation of the slaves, in 1879, African Americans from the area, who were tired of the harsh realities of sharecropping and limited political and economic influence under the black codes, left for Kansas, which was considered the promised land for the newly freed blacks. They became known as Exodusters, and as many as 12,000 left this region of Texas.


Frank Hamer Texas RangerFrank Hamer Texas Ranger


In 1908, Navasota was still a Wild West boomtown, and “shootouts on the main street were so frequent that in two years at least 100 men had died.” Famed lawman Frank Hamer, then 24 years old, was hired away from the Texas Rangers to become the City Marshal. Hamer moved in and imposed law and order, prosecuting Navasota criminals until the town became safe again. He served as marshal until 1911. Hamer became more widely known in 1934 as a posse leader who hunted down and fatally shot Bonnie and Clyde.


Mance Lipscomb circa 1960sMance Lipscomb circa 1960sMance Lipscomb circa 1960s
In 2005, the Texas Legislature designated Navasota as the “Blues Capital of Texas” in honor of the late Mance Lipscomb, a Navasota native and blues musician. The town celebrates his legacy with a Blues Festival each year. 


Navasota, TX - StreetNavasota, TX - Street


In 2009, Navasota was selected as a “Visionaries in Preservation” city by the Texas Historical Commission to protect the numerous historic structures in the city.


Navasota, TX - Railroad StreetNavasota, TX - Railroad Street
Today, Navasota has many shops and artisans in its historic downtown district, including antique, gift, and boutique stores and art galleries housed in old classic stone and brick structures. For more information see the city's website here

See our article Navasota - Train Town USA


Also See: 

Frank Hammer - Stopping Bonnie and Clyde

Jim Crow Laws

Exodusters of Kansas


Navasota Concrete RVNavasota Concrete RVWestern Steakhouse RV Park, Navasota, Texas.


During our stay in Navasota, we parked our travel trailer at the Western RV Park, behind the Western Steakhouse and Dancehall.  This was a different feel as the entire RV Park is concrete at different levels with slopes in-between spaces. A bit hard for bigger rigs to back into their spots. Full hookups make it a great stop for short stays but wouldn't want to plan a long-term stay here. If you do decide to park here, say hello to the duck that apparently makes the RV Park home and walks around visiting everyone. 




(Legends of America Photo Prints) Exodusters Frank Hammer history Navasota Slaves Texas Texas Independence Celebration Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2023/3/a-nation-was-born-here Sat, 11 Mar 2023 17:55:35 GMT
Battlefields and Rockets at Brownsville, Texas https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2023/3/battlefields-and-rockets-brownsville-texas For our Winter 2023 adventure, we came back to the Lone Star State, visited the southernmost fort, and found a Starbase... far out!.  


Goodbye Big RedGoodbye Big RedThe last gasp of our 2013 Ford F150 after compartment fire in Oklahoma.


But getting there was quite the task as we lost our truck in a blaze of glory along the way in Oklahoma (read more about that in our February newsletter here

That wasn't going to stop us though, as we were determined to travel south out of the Missouri Cold.


Kathy& Deb - Canton Trade DaysKathy& Deb - Canton Trade DaysKathy (right) and her Sister Deb at Canton Texas First Mondays Trade Days.


First things first, gotta experience First Mondays in Canton, Texas.  Always great to visit Kathy's sister Deb, and even better that she traveled with us to Canton. First Monday Trade Days, dubbed the World's Largest Flea Market, dates back to the 1850s when a judge made stops for court in Canton on the first Monday of each month. Citizens would gather around the courthouse, trade goods while they were in town on the square, and watch court proceedings and hangings for entertainment. The hangings and court watching stopped, but trading continued around the courthouse until 1965 when the city purchased 6 acres two blocks north of the courthouse and moved the event. According to organizers the event runs Thursday-Sunday (before the first Monday of the month) but will always be known as "First Monday Trade Days".  See more on their website here


On to Brownsville

Brownsville, TX - Colorful MuralBrownsville, TX - Colorful MuralA portion of a colorful street mural in downtown Brownsville, Texas. Photo by Carol Highsmith, 2014.


The land that includes Brownsville, Texas was part of a large land grant from the Spanish Government in 1804. Population in the area grew when the U.S. Government established Fort Texas, the first U.S. military post in the state, just months after Texas joined the Union in December of 1845. 


Brownsville, TX - Palo Alto Battlefield Highsmith2014Brownsville, TX - Palo Alto Battlefield Highsmith2014View of the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park in Brownsville, Texas. The park preserves the grounds of the May 8, 1846, Battle of Palo Alto, the first major conflict in a border dispute that soon precipitated the Mexican-American War. The United States Army victory here, and soon afterward at the battle of Resaca de la Plata a few miles away in what is now Brownsville, made the invasion of Mexico possible. The historic site portrays the battle and the war, and its causes and consequences, from the perspectives of both the United States and Mexico.


The first battle of the Mexican-American War occurred in May of 1846 when General and future U.S. President Zachary Taylor defeated the Mexicans at the Battle of Palo Alto. Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park preserves the site of this important battle and provides an understanding of the causes, events, and consequences of the U.S.-Mexican War. See more on their website here


Brownsville, TX - Fort BrownBrownsville, TX - Fort BrownSome of the buildings at Fort Brown in Brownsville, Texas. The fort was a military post of the United States Army in Texas during the latter half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. In 1846, under orders from Zachary Taylor, Captain Joseph K. Mansfield built a star-shaped earthwork for 800 men called "Fort Texas" on the northern side of the Rio Grande, "by the order from General Taylor to command the city of Matamoros". The next year, the fort played a role during the opening of the Mexican-American War. During the Siege of Fort Texas, two Americans were killed, including Major Jacob Brown. In honor of the fallen major, General Zachary Taylor renamed the post Fort Brown. In 1849, the city of Brownsville, Texas, was established not far from the fort's grounds. Almost a century later, on Feburary 1, 1946, Fort Brown was decommissioned and turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers. It was acquired by the City of Brownsville in 1948 and became part of what is now the Texas Southmost College campus. Photo by Carol Highsmith.


After the battle, Fort Texas was renamed Fort Brown in honor of Major Jacob Brown, who was killed in its defense.

Brownsville was officially incorporated in 1850. With its location by the Rio Grande and Gulf of Mexico, the city was a major center for trade and businesses. This grew further with the opening of the Port of Brownsville in 1853. 


Brownsville, TX - Fort Brown Cavalry BuildingBrownsville, TX - Fort Brown Cavalry BuildingThe Cavalry Building, which served as barracks at Fort Brown in Brownsville, Texas, until World War I. The fort was a military post of the United States Army in Texas during the later half of 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. In 1846, under orders from Zachary Taylor, Captain Joseph K. Mansfield built a star-shaped earthwork for 800 men called "Fort Texas" on the northern side of the Rio Grande, "by the order from General Taylor to command the city of Matamoros". The next year, the fort played a role during the opening of the Mexican-American War. During the Siege of Fort Texas, two Americans were killed, including Major Jacob Brown. In honor of the fallen major, General Zachary Taylor renamed the post Fort Brown. In 1849, the city of Brownsville, Texas, was established not far from the fort's grounds. Almost a century later, on Feburary 1, 1946, Fort Brown was decommissioned and turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers. It was acquired by the City of Brownsville in 1948 and became part of what is now the Texas Southmost College campus. Photo by Carol Highsmith, 2014.


Federal troops left the fort with Texas' secession from the Union during the Civil War. It was then occupied by Confederate Colonel John "Rip" Ford and his troops until 1863 when Union forces finally drove them out under General Nathaniel P. Banks, who then camped in tents erected at the fort site. However, in 1864, Confederate forces under General J. S. Slaughter and Colonel Ford reoccupied the area and held the post until the war's end. In 1867, a permanent fort was constructed by the U.S. military. Regiments of Buffalo Soldiers were often assigned to the post. 


Buffalo SoldiersBuffalo SoldiersBuffalo Soldiers 1916.

On August 13 and 14, 1906, the Brownsville Affair occurred, in which several unknown individuals raided the city, indiscriminately shooting up the town, killing one man, and wounding another. The townspeople quickly blamed the black soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Brown, and when the Army investigated the matter, they came to the same conclusion. Secretary of War, William H. Taft, discharged all 168 black soldiers “without honor.”  It would be another 60 years before a second investigation was held, and the black soldiers had their honor restored. Only two of the original 168 men were alive by then. Historians believe that the real culprits who shot up the town used the same caliber ammunition as the soldiers to frame them.


Brownsville, TX - Fort Brown Champion HallBrownsville, TX - Fort Brown Champion HallChampion Hall, which served as the medical laboratory and isolation ward at Fort Brown in Brownsville, Texas, until World War I. The fort was a military post of the United States Army in Texas during the later half of 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. In 1846, under orders from Zachary Taylor, Captain Joseph K. Mansfield built a star-shaped earthwork for 800 men called "Fort Texas" on the northern side of the Rio Grande, "by the order from General Taylor to command the city of Matamoros". The next year, the fort played a role during the opening of the Mexican-American War. During the Siege of Fort Texas, two Americans were killed, including Major Jacob Brown. In honor of the fallen major, General Zachary Taylor renamed the post Fort Brown. In 1849, the city of Brownsville, Texas, was established not far from the fort's grounds. Almost a century later, on Feburary 1, 1946, Fort Brown was decommissioned and turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers. It was acquired by the City of Brownsville in 1948 and became part of what is now the Texas Southmost College campus. Photo by Carol Highsmith.


On April 20, 1915, the first U.S. military airplane to be attacked by hostile fire came from Fort Brown. The plane was looking to spot the movements of Mexican Revolutionary leader Francisco “Pancho” Villa. Though it did not cross the border into Mexico, it was fired upon by machine guns and small arms. Other tensions between countries and in the area led to Revolutionaries raiding Brownsville in 1916. Allegedly this was part of the Plan of San Diego, drafted by Mexican rebels in San Diego, Texas, whose ultimate goal was to regain Texas, along with New Mexico, Arizona and California for Mexico. 


Fort Brown - Gorgas HallFort Brown - Gorgas HallBuildings at Fort Brown, now used as part of a school.


Fort Brown remained active through World War II but was decommissioned in 1944. In 1948, the land was acquired by the City of Brownsville and Texas Southmost College. The fort buildings were sold or donated to various organizations and schools in the Brownsville area. Several buildings remain dating from the post-Civil War era, many located on the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost Jr. College campuses. A small portion of the earthwork fort remains as well.

See our story of Fort Brown Here


Brownsville, Tx SpaceX StarbaseBrownsville, Tx SpaceX StarbaseStarbase built by SpaceX just south of Brownsville.


While you are visiting Brownsville, be sure to visit Boca Chica Beach northwest of town. Right before you get to the beach you'll pass by Starbase, part of a sprawling aerospace facility owned by SpaceX. The company also has its tracking station next door.


BrownsvilleSpaceEXBrownsville SpaceXSpaceX at Boca Chica (south of Brownsville)


Then as you get closer to the beach you'll pass right by the launch facility, which during our visit was bustling with construction. 


SpaceX - Boca Chica Launch PadSpaceX - Boca Chica Launch PadBoca Chica Launch Pad, as seen from Boca Chica Beach, is part of SpaceX Starbase facility outside of Brownsville, Texas.


It made for some interesting views from Boca Chica beach.  Before you go, be sure to check the current road and beach closures around SpaceX here


South Padre Island TxSouth Padre Island TxWelcome to South Padre Island.


Speaking of beaches, don't forget South Padre Island is also not far from Brownsville :) 


Brownsville - Tropical Trails RV ResortBrownsville - Tropical Trails RV ResortBrownsville - Tropical Trails RV Resort


We stayed at Tropical Trails RV Resort while in the area. Would have enjoyed staying longer as they have a lot of activities and snowbirds to visit with. As a side note, it was windy during our stay, which seems to be the norm during this time of year. The annual average wind speed is 16mph. 

For more information on the sites to see and do in Brownsville, see Visit Brownsville Texas

Also See:

The Mexican-American War

Texas Forts of the Old West


Gulf Coast by SpaceXGulf Coast by SpaceX

Next up, we visit the birthplace of the nation known as Texas. 


(Legends of America Photo Prints) Battle of Palo Alto Brownsville Fort Brown Pancho Villa SpaceX Starbase Texas https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2023/3/battlefields-and-rockets-brownsville-texas Sat, 11 Mar 2023 02:37:09 GMT
Aliens & Outlaws - Our 2008 Adventure in Southern New Mexico https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2022/4/aliens-and-outlaws In February 2008, while Dave was still working in the corporate world, we took a flight out to El Paso from Missouri, rented a Jeep, and traveled through history in Southern New Mexico.  The following is from Legends Of America's old travel Blogspot and combines several entries into this one. 

Roswell, NM - UFO MuseumRoswell, NM - UFO MuseumUFO Museum in Roswell, NM

We head north once again determined to see an alien in Roswell and hopefully "bump" into the ghost of Billy the Kid at Fort Sumner. Well, all kinds of "alien" type items we did see in Roswell, especially at the UFO Museum and Research Center. Got the whole history, lots of pictures, and displays. Very interesting stuff. Plus, Dave was determined to bring home an "alien" so we poked our heads into several of the touristy souvenir shops finding just the right one. Now, those places I can only describe as "quirky," but alien in hand, we set out on a more familiar trail -- that of the Old West.


Fort Sumner, NM - Old HouseFort Sumner, NM - Old HouseAn old house sits lonely between Roswell and Fort Sumner, New Mexico.


We roll through the next 84 miles barely seeing a soul through the desert plains, our only company, a few scattered cows, and a brief peek at a few fleeing antelope. One lonely adobe house sits abandoned on these quiet plains. How long has it been since this quiet little place heard laughter and voices within its walls? Finally, we reach the village of Fort Sumner, population of about 1250 - friendly folks and a great hamburger at Fred's Lounge.


Fort Sumner, NM - Billy the Kid MuseumFort Sumner, NM - Billy the Kid MuseumPhoto by Kathy Alexander, 2008


On a visit to the Billy the Kid Museum, history comes to life with displays of Billy the Kid's rifle, chaps, spurs and original Wanted Poster, as well as military displays, saddles, vintage photographs, antique furnishings, and old Model-T's.


Fort Sumner, NM - Billy Died HereFort Sumner, NM - Billy Died HereBilly the Kid died at this spot in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.


Now, on to Billy the Kid's gravesite and the Fort Sumner State Monument. At the old cemetery, we see Billy's grave, along with his pals Tom O'Folliard and Charlie Bowdre. Poor Billy's original gravestone has been stolen twice, so the gravesite sits behind an iron cage. Who would do that? Steal a grave marker? But, they got it back and the original marker is also in the "cage," further imprisoned within yet more iron.


Fort Sumner, NM - Billy the Kid's GraveFort Sumner, NM - Billy the Kid's Grave


At the Fort Sumner State Monument, we learn more of the Navajo's Long Walk to the Bosque Redondo Reservation. It was to "guard" these Indians, that Fort Sumner was built in 1862. However, the reservation was soon hailed as a miserable failure --the victim of poor planning, disease, crop infestation, and poor conditions for agriculture. The Navajo were finally acknowledged sovereignty in the historic Treaty of 1868 and allowed to return to their land along the Arizona-New Mexico border.


Fort Sumner, NM - MonumentFort Sumner, NM - Monument


In 1870, the old Fort Sumner buildings were sold to Lucien B. Maxwell, the former owner of the largest land grant in U.S. History. Maxwell relocated his family from northeast New Mexico and refurbished the buildings into proper housing. Lucien Maxwell soon turned over his affairs to his son Peter and passed away a few years later. When Billy the Kid arrived on the scene, Peter Maxwell and Billy became friends. On July 14, 1881, Sheriff Pat Garrett found Billy the Kid in a bedroom of the Maxwell home and ended the life of the teenage outlaw.


Fort Sumner, NM - Pete Maxwell HouseFort Sumner, NM - Pete Maxwell HousePeter Maxwell, The only son of New Mexico land baron Lucien B. Maxwell, was living at Fort Sumner during the reign of Billy the Kid and it was at his home that the Kid was shot by Pat Garrett in 1881. This was the home of both Peter and his father.


Though all of the original buildings of the fort, as well as Maxwell's home, are long since gone, the site provides a museum and an interpretive trail that provide information about the tragic history of the site.


Yeso, NM - Post OfficeYeso, NM - Post OfficeYeso, New Mexico is a small unincorporated community established in 1906 when the railroad came through. For a couple of years spelled Yesso, a Post Office was established in 1909 and continues to serve the few residents of the area. The town never took off after farmers realized the area land wasn't good for anything other than sheepherding and grazing.


We're off again, destined for Ruidosa. Along the way, I am pleasantly surprised when we run into the ghost town of Yeso which I was unaware was on our route. Though we saw not a single soul, amazingly, there is still an operating post office in this abandoned agricultural community. Here, there are numerous homes and businesses standing in various stages of collapse.


Yeso, NM - WindowYeso, NM - WindowYeso, New Mexico is a small unincorporated community established in 1906 when the railroad came through. For a couple of years spelled Yesso, a Post Office was established in 1909 and continues to serve the few residents of the area. The town never took off after farmers realized the area land wasn't good for anything other than sheepherding and grazing.

Yeso, NM - RuinsYeso, NM - Ruins


As our journey turns southward, we bump into yet another ghost town -- Duran. Though this small village continues to be called home to several residents, it's obviously seen better days, as every business is closed and numerous homes are abandoned.



Duran, NM - Business BuildingDuran, NM - Business Building


Finally, we reach Ruiodosa and our hotel. Another delightful day!


Read Sheriff Pat Garret's account "Billy the Kid - The Fatal Shot in the Dark" 

Also See: 

Fort Sumner - Pride of the Pecos

The Roswell Incident 

Navajo Long Walk to the Bosque Redondo


Ghost Towns and the Wild Wild West


Lincoln, New MexicoLincoln, New Mexico


Ahh, the day I have been anxiously awaiting - a visit to Lincoln, New Mexico, with all its history of the Lincoln County War, Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and more. We take off from Ruidoso - it's a cold and windy morning, not exactly what I was hoping for in southern New Mexico, but that's not about to stop us. Put on the coat, pull on the gloves, get out the camera and we're off. Whatever it is, it's still better than Kansas City, where the weather is so bad, the airport is shut down.


Lincoln, NM - MuseumLincoln, NM - Museum


A walk down Lincoln, New Mexico's Main Street is a step back into the Wild Wild West. It was here that such men as Billy the Kid escaped from jail, killing two deputies, after Pat Garrett had captured him; here, that Indians, Mexican American settlers, gunfighters and corrupt politicians made themselves known; it was in this small settlement that the violent Lincoln County War erupted, which resulted in the deaths of 19 men and made Billy the Kid a legend.


Lincoln, NM - Curry-Thorton Saloon TodayLincoln, NM - Curry-Thorton Saloon TodayThe Curry-Thorton Saloon in Lincoln, New Mexico today. Thornton's partner in the saloon and hotel was George Curry, a Louisiana native who was working as the post trader at Fort Stanton, where the two met. Finding he had an interest in politics, Curry served as the deputy treasurer, county clerk, county assessor, and sheriff of Lincoln County. He would later go on to enlist in Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, serve as a member of the New Mexico Territorial Senate and Territorial Governor. The old Thornton & Curry Saloon still stands in Lincoln, housing a restaurant in 2008.


The Curry-Thorton Saloon in Lincoln, New Mexico today. Thornton's partner in the saloon and hotel was George Curry, a Louisiana native who was working as the post trader at Fort Stanton, where the two met. Finding he had an interest in politics, Curry served as the deputy treasurer, county clerk, county assessor, and sheriff of Lincoln County. He would later go on to enlist in Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, serve as a member of the New Mexico Territorial Senate and Territorial Governor. The old Thornton & Curry Saloon still stands in Lincoln, housing a restaurant in 2008.


Fort Stanton, NM - MuseumFort Stanton, NM - Museum


From Lincoln, we head on down the road to Fort Stanton, one more of the many forts established to fight the fierce Apache Indians. From here, that Kit Carson was tasked with rounding up both the Apache and the Navajo Indians and forcing them on to the reservation at the Bosque Redondo Reservation at Fort Sumner. Over the years, the fort underwent a number of uses after it was decommissioned in 1896, becoming a tuberculosis hospital, a minimum security corrections facility, and today, a drug rehabilitation center.


Fort Stanton, NM - Parade GroundsFort Stanton, NM - Parade Grounds


Today [2008], the old fort grounds display a number of buildings; however, most are in serious disrepair. Much of the area is off-limits to the public and there are no buildings that can be toured. There is; however, a museum and visitor's center, but the hours are irregular.




Rolling on, we pass by the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan, New New Mexico. Did you know that Smokey Bear was a real bear? In 1950 a real baby bear became the live “Smokey” when he was rescued from certain death by firefighters in a devastating blaze in New Mexico's Lincoln National Forest. It was this tiny bear that spawned the Smokey Bear Campaign, the longest-running public service campaign in U.S. history.


White Oak, NM - SignWhite Oak, NM - Sign


But, we are destined for ghost towns in the Jicarilla Mountains northwest of Carrizozo. First stop -- White Oaks, a town that became known as the liveliest town in New Mexico Territory after gold was discovered here in 1879.


White Oak, NM - Saloon DoorWhite Oak, NM - Saloon Door


In no time, the population boomed as miners crawled the hills and businessmen established saloons, stores, and offices.


White Oak, NM - Brown StoreWhite Oak, NM - Brown StoreOld Brown Store Building in White Oaks.


Billy Wilson, one of Billy the Kid's buddies lived here for a time and it was here that Pat Garrett was when the "Kid" escaped from the Lincoln County Jail, leaving behind two dead deputies.


White Oak, NM - Hoyle MansionWhite Oak, NM - Hoyle MansionHoyle Mansion in White Oaks.


Today, this formerly thriving town is but a shell of its former self, providing a vivid peek at its past through its numerous old buildings.


Jicarilla, NM - StoreJicarilla, NM - Store


The pavement ends as we head northeast out of White Oaks in search of another old settlement called Jicarilla.


Jicarilla, NM - SchoolJicarilla, NM - School


This very small town has been called home to miners for more than 150 years. Though its few buildings are now abandoned, there is still said to be plenty of gold in the area.



Ancho, NM - DepotAncho, NM - DepotThe final blow for Ancho was when the railroad discontinued the depot in 1959. The building was sold and in 1963 became a museum called "My House of Old Things.” That same year, the town’s combination store and gas station closed. Five years later, the post office also closed and the town was left with only a few people. Today, the depot sits abandoned and silent.


Next, this unpaved road takes us to the old railroad and ranching community of Ancho.


Ancho, NM - School & PlaygroundAncho, NM - School & Playground


This once bustling town has been reduced to a number of tumbling homes and businesses after being bypassed by the highway. Great stop and lots of photo opportunities.

And, we're not done yet! Returning south to Carrizozo, we then head westward through the lava fields, to Socorro County and the old mining towns of Kelly and Magdalena. Of Kelly, there is very little left and Magdalena is not a ghost town, but it was still a fun drive.

As you can imagine, by this time, we're beat and head to a hotel in Socorro, resting up for yet another day on the road.

Read White Oaks - The Liveliest Town in the Territory

Also See:

Smokey Bear Historical Park

Lincoln County War



Ghost Towns in the Desert Snow


Monticello, NM - Area HighwayMonticello, NM - Area Highway


We are worried as we set out this morning -- Tucson, Arizona got inches of snow dumped on it last night and here in Socorro County, everything is laced with ice crystals. The storm from Arizona is supposed to move eastward, predicting to dump 6-10 inches on Silver City, New Mexico, our final destination for the day. We're going to be traveling some mountain roads and is this unpredictable storm going to put a damper on our next few days of travel? Well, we're here, we have coats, water, food and a 4-wheel drive jeep -- let's just see what happens.


Monticello, NM - Cactus in SnowMonticello, NM - Cactus in Snow


As we venture south from Socorro, the landscape is absolutely beautiful! Cactuses glitter in the bright sun, dripping as the temperature rises. As the black highway heats up under, a misty cloud forms over it. We've started early and very glad of it, because all the ice and dusting of snow is entirely gone by 11:00 a.m. There is no wind and the sun is proving that this will be a wonderful day.



Placita, NM - HousePlacita, NM - House


We soon venture off the highway, heading westward on a stretch of the Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway to the small agricultural communities of Placita and Monticello.


Placita, NM - ChurchPlacita, NM - Church


We are awe inspired as we reach Monticello Canyon and view the small town of Placita (meaning Little Plaza), with its snow covered fields and mountain back drop. The community, dating back to the 1840's still boasts its 1916 San Lorenzo Catholic Church and several old homes.


Monticello, NM - CowMonticello, NM - Cow"What a tourist"


Just two more miles down the road we come to Monticello, a farming and ranching community dating back to 1856.


Monticello, NM - SchoolMonticello, NM - School


The town was built in a square to protect residents from Apache attacks. Ironically, it later became the headquarters for the Southern Apache Agency before a post was established at nearby Ojo Caliente in 1874.


Monticello, NM - ChurchMonticello, NM - Church


This picturesque small community continues to sport its 1867 San Ignacio Catholic Church, the ruins of an old school that burned years ago, and a number of homes, some still lived in, and others that are succumbing to nature's elements.


Winston, NM - General StoreWinston, NM - General Store


Backtracking just a bit, we next head for more ghost towns, starting with 1880 mining town of Winston, which was once called home to about 3,000 people.


Winston, NM - Diamond Bar SaloonWinston, NM - Diamond Bar Saloon


The old settlement provides a number of photo opportunities in its old business buildings and homes.


Chloride, NM - Pioneer StoreChloride, NM - Pioneer Store


About three miles down the road is another mining community - Chloride.


Chloride, NM - Grafton CabinChloride, NM - Grafton Cabin


This ghost town has seen much restoration in the last several years and its museum was open for us to learn more of its history.


Chloride, NM - BankChloride, NM - Bank


We then try to take a short cut over a forest road so that we don't have to backtrack once again. Alas, this is not a good idea, as the snow covered road is unpaved, rutted, and narrow. Ok, backtrack we do, heading south again on I-25 through Truth or Consequences before getting off the interstate once again, headed for, yes, you guessed it -- more ghost towns.


Hillsboro, NM - Jail RuinsHillsboro, NM - Jail Ruins


Heading westward on NM-152, we soon arrive at Hillsboro, another mining community born in 1877. Though not a ghost town today, it displays lots of interesting historic buildings.


Kingston, NM - Old buildingKingston, NM - Old building


Another 9 ½ miles down the road, we almost miss the turnoff to Kingston and do a quick U-turn to this old 1882 mining town.


Kingston, NM - Assay OfficeKingston, NM - Assay Office


Now, at one time this place was allegedly one of the largest and wildest towns in New Mexico Territory, with some 7,000 people. Hmmmm, sure can't tell it today -- only old buildings and a cemetery, but still worth the stop.


Santa Rita, NM - Copper MineSanta Rita, NM - Copper Mine


We take a brief pause to take pics of the open pit Santa Rita Copper Mine and feeling pretty DONE for the day, head on over to Silver City.


Fort Bayard, NMFort Bayard, NM


Nope! Change of plans when I spy the sign for Fort Bayard. Ok, one last stop as we make a quick tour through the old fort grounds.


Fort Bayard, NM - Building - 4Fort Bayard, NM - Building - 4


Lots of buildings left, but like Fort Stanton, is another sad case of deterioration. The site now serves as a New Mexico State Hospital.

Ok, finally really done, find the hotel and "die." It's been a very long day.

Kathy Alexander, February 2008. 


See our New Mexico Photo Print Galleries HERE


Also See: 

Fort Bayard


Ghost Towns of New Mexico



(Legends of America Photo Prints) Ancho Billy the Kid Fort Bayard Fort Stanton Fort Sumner Ghost Towns Lincoln new mexico Roswell travel white oaks https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2022/4/aliens-and-outlaws Fri, 08 Apr 2022 20:56:55 GMT
I Wanna Be a Cowboy... in Bandera https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2022/2/i-wanna-be-a-cowboy-in-bandera and then San Felipe de Austin, the original Texas Capital before Texas was..well, Texas. 

We explored more of the Lone Star state in January and found our way to the Cowboy Capital of the World.


Bandera, TX - MuralBandera, TX - MuralPhoto by Dave Alexander.


Bandera got its start in 1852 when several families camped along the Medina River and made roofing shingles out of the abundant Cypress trees in the area. A year later, John James and Charles de Montel acquired land laid out a townsite. They also built a horse-powered sawmill for cypress lumber.


Bandera, Tx - HornsBandera, Tx - HornsEverything's bigger in Texas, including this sculpture as you come into Bandera, Texas from the south. Photo by Dave Alexander.


Bandera’s title, “Cowboy Capital of the World” is from its days as the staging area for the last great cattle drives of the late 1800s. In addition, many National Rodeo Champions call Bandera home. 


Bandera Horse ridersBandera, Texas Horse and Wagon rides available for visitors to Bandera, Texas.


According to author Stephanie Day, "Hendrick Arnold, a free black man, was given a vast tract of land for his faithful service in the young Republic of Texas. He was commended for his bravery and fighting ability in the siege and capture of San Antonio in 1835, then fought in the battle of San Jacinto which won the independence of Texas. Bandera's black cemetery is named the Hendrick Arnold-Bertha Tryon Cemetery in his honor."


Bandera, Tx - HatsBandera, Tx - HatsCowboy hats on display at an antique mall in Bandera, Texas, 2022. Photo by Dave Alexander.


Though Bandera is a small town of less than a thousand, many come here to experience the eclectic mix of Indian, Mexican, Polish, and Western cultures.


Bandera, TX - OST DinerBandera, TX - OST DinerThe Old Spanish Trail Diner in Bandera, Texas. Photo by Dave Alexander.


This One Hundred-year-old dining establishment in Bandera was originally the old Davenport Grocery Store and there was once a horse corral here. During the 30s and 40s, the O.S.T. was also a dance hall where many famous singers and bands played. Today there is still a line out the door for lunch... at least while we were there. 



Frontier TimesFrontier TimesStarted in the 1920s, Frontier Times was a popular magazine for the Western lover.


The Frontier Times Museum, founded by J. Marvin Hunter and named for Hunter's Frontier Times magazine, is located in Bandera across from the First Baptist Church.


Bandera, TX - Cigar Store IndianBandera, TX - Cigar Store IndianA cigar-store Indian and a plethora of beads meet for Mardi Gras -- a Cowboy Mardi Gras -- in little Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World.


Many bloody battles between Apache and Comanche Indians and the Spanish Conquistadors took place in Bandera Pass (12 miles north of Bandera on Hwy 173). Legend has it that, for years afterward, a red "bandera” (Spanish for banner or flag) was flown at the site to define the boundary between Spanish and Indian hunting grounds.

For more information on Bandera, Check out these official websites:

Bandera, Texas Cowboy Capital of the World

Bandera County Chamber of Commerce


Also see our articles:

The Great Western Cattle Trail

Cowboys & Trailblazers




San Felipe de Austin - Capital of Mexican Texas

San Felipe de Austin, TX - MuseumSan Felipe de Austin, TX - MuseumPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


San Felipe de Austin, Texas, was chosen by Stephen F. Austin as the unofficial capital of his colony in Mexican Texas in October 1823. 


San Felipe de Austin, TX - Brazos RiverSan Felipe de Austin, TX - Brazos RiverPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


Austin decided to establish his capital at the Brazos River crossing of the Atascosito Road, a military road built by the Spanish in 1757 that connected San Antonio to Louisiana. The town was named after Stephen Austin and Felipe de la Garza, commanding general of the Eastern Interior Provinces.


San Felipe de Austin, TX - Austin StatueSan Felipe de Austin, TX - Austin StatuePhoto by Dave Alexander.


San Felipe soon became the first urban center in the Austin colony, stretching northward from the Gulf of Mexico to the Old San Antonio Road and extending from the Lavaca River in the west to the San Jacinto River in the east.


San Felipe de Austin, TX - Austin HouseSan Felipe de Austin, TX - Austin HousePhoto by Dave Alexander.


By 1828, San Felipe had been surveyed, with Calle Commercio laid out as the main commercial street. Austin and his secretary, Samuel May Williams, both resided in log cabins on the square. Jonathan Peyton also ran a tavern on the square. By that time, the community boasted three general stores, two saloons, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, 40-50 log cabins, and a population of about 200.

San Felipe de Austin, TX - Town Hall MonumentSan Felipe de Austin, TX - Town Hall MonumentPhoto by Dave Alexander.


Between 1832 and 1835, the “People of Texas” met in convention three times at San Felipe to protest Mexican policies and eventually consider breaking free from Mexico. The evolving Texas government ruled from San Felipe for five months during the seven-month-long Texas Revolution. Working to unite the colonies, the provisional government organized the army, established what would become the Texas Rangers, and initiated a postal system for Texas. Gail Borden’s Telegraph & Texas Register, which became the unofficial journal of the revolution, was first published in San Felipe de Austin on October 10, 1835. The print shop also published some of Texas’ most famous documents that rallied support for the Texas Revolution in 1835-1836. By 1836 the town's population was 600 with many more settlers nearby. 


San Felipe de Austin, TX - MonumentSan Felipe de Austin, TX - MonumentPhoto by Dave Alexander.

On March 30, 1836, the small garrison remaining at San Felipe ordered the town evacuated, and the terrified residents hastily gathered what few belongings they could carry before fleeing eastward during the incident known as the Runaway Scrape. The town was then put to the torch. 

After Texas' independence from Mexico,  a "new" community was established near the original townsite, but the republic’s government was unable to resume operation in San Felipe due to the lack of necessary buildings. San Felipe was incorporated in 1837, became the county seat of the newly established Austin County, and a courthouse was built. 


San Felipe de Austin, TX - Old StoreSan Felipe de Austin, TX - Old StorePhoto by Dave Alexander.


By 1850 San Felipe had a school and two stores, one of which was a general store run by John Crutcher. It was purchased in 1867 by J.J. Josey; it was in continuous operation as a store until 1942. 


San Felipe de Austin, TX - WellSan Felipe de Austin, TX - WellPhoto by Dave Alexander.


In 1928, residents dedicated the original townsite as a commemorative site and have annually held a celebration honoring Stephen F. Austin and early San Felipe ever since. In 1940, the town of San Felipe donated most of the original townsite property to the state, which is now the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site.


San Felipe de Austin, TX - CabinsSan Felipe de Austin, TX - Museum CabinsPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


Today, the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, contains a 10,000 square-foot state-of-the-art museum that shares the stories of early settlers where visitors can walk in their footsteps and features interactive displays and historical artifacts.

Read More about San Felipe de Austin - Texas First Colony

Also See:

The Texas Revolution

Texas Rangers - Order out of Chaos

The Spanish Explore America

(Legends of America Photo Prints) Bandera Cowboy Capital destination first capital history San Felipe de Austin Texas travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2022/2/i-wanna-be-a-cowboy-in-bandera Thu, 03 Feb 2022 19:34:37 GMT
Sweet Virginia - Saving Our Nation More than Once https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/11/sweet-virginia Ahh, Virginia.  Where British Colonialism began, and where it ended. Not to mention where the United States was saved from itself in 1865. 


Appomattox Court House National Historic Park


Appomattox, VA - McLean HouseAppomattox, VA - McLean HousePhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander


That's the McLean House in Appomattox Court House, Virginia.  So, why is the McLean house important?  


Appomattox, VA - McLean House Surrender RoomAppomattox, VA - McLean House Surrender RoomPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander


It was in this room at the McLean home that Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865. 


Appomattox Station, VA - 1865Appomattox Station, VA - 1865Appomattox Station, Virginia by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, 1865.


Early that morning, Confederate forces formed a line of battle at Appomattox Court House. Lee was determined to make one last attempt to escape the closing Union pincers and reach his supplies at Lynchburg. At dawn, the Confederates advanced, initially gaining ground against General Philip Sheridan’s cavalry. The arrival of Union infantry, however, stopped the advance in its tracks. The Confederate army was now surrounded on three sides. Union General Grant had checkmate, and Lee surrendered. It was the last battle in Virginia and the end of the American Civil War.



Appomattox, VA - MuseumAppomattox, VA - MuseumMuseum at Appomattox Court House.


This was a humbling visit to Appomattox Court House National Historic Park. The park features a museum and several other buildings, that you can enter on your walking tour.  


Appomattox, VA - CourthouseAppomattoxThe courthouse at Appomattox Court House isn't the original.


Not all the buildings are original, as some have been reconstructed.  


Appomattox, VA - Clover Hill TavernAppomattox, VA - Clover Hill TavernThe Clover Hill Tavern and Guest House date back to 1819.


But there are several original's, like the Clover Hill Tavern which dates back to 1819.


Appomattox, VA - Meeks MercantileAppomattox, VA - Meeks MercantileMeeks Mercantile dates back to 1852.


Meeks Mercantile dates back to 1852 and was a fun place to go inside. For a list of the 'original buildings' still standing, see the National Parks Service website here


Appomattox, VA - Meeks Mercantile Interior - 2Appomattox, VA - Meeks Mercantile Interior


This is a beautiful area, and well worth an educational visit to walk around historic Appomattox Court House. You'll find many historical markers in and around the park. 


Appomattox, VA - CannonsAppomattox, VA - CannonsPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


While stopping to take a picture of these cannon wagons on the way out, we found a historical marker totally unrelated to War.  


AfricanBanjoAfrican BanjoHistorical Marker in Appomattox Court House National Historic Park.


Did you know the Banjo has its roots in West Africa?  The forerunner to the Banjo, made by free and enslaved Africans, captured the attention of Joel Walker Sweeney, a local white musician, who was taught by nearby black residents, and in turn, brought international fame to the Banjo and Sweeney. African American banjoists in Virginia shaped the diverse world of American Music, as the banjo became a mainstay of pop culture by the end of the 1800s. 

For more information on the historic park, see the National Park Service Website for Appomattox Court House.

Begin your learning experience about America's darkest time on our Civil War main page.

Also see:

Appomattox, Virginia Campaign Battles of the Civil War

Robert E. Lee - Celebrated General of the South

Ulysses S. Grant – Civil War Hero & 18th President


Colonial Williamsburg

Williamsburg, VA - Governors PalaceWilliamsburg, VA - Governors PalaceThe capitol building at Colonial Williamsburg, the world's largest living-history museum, in Williamsburg, Virginia. It housed the House of Burgesses from 1705, when the government of Britain’s Virginia Colony was relocated there from Jamestown, until 1779, when Richmond became the capital. Colonial Williamsburg is the world's largest living-history museum, boasting more than 600 buildings (88 of them original 18th-Century), more than 40 demonstration sites and trades, four historic taverns, and two art museums.

Williamsburg, Virginia, was the thriving capital of the commonwealth when the dream of American freedom and independence was taking shape.


Williamsburg, VA - Patrick Henry before the Virginia House of BurgessesWilliamsburg, VA Patrick Henry before the Virginia House of Burgesses, May 30, 1765, by Peter Frederick Rothermel, 1852


Serving as Virginia’s capital from 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg was the center of government, education, and culture, where important figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Monroe, James Madison, George Wythe, Peyton Randolph, and others worked first for the British government and later to form the new United States.


Williamsburg, VA - Raleigh  TavernWilliamsburg, VA - Raleigh Tavern


Today, Colonial Williamsburg is a living history museum that comprises the Williamsburg, Virginia Historic District.


Williamsburg, VA - Tailor ShopWilliamsburg, VA - Tailor ShopMaster tailor Mark Hutter (left) and apprentice Tim Logue demonstrate their craft in the Tailor Shop at Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia. They are costumed but are not actors, but rather skilled tradesmen who explain their period craft to visitors. Colonial Williamsburg is the world's largest living-history museum, boasting more than 600 buildings (88 of them original 18th-Century) and more than 40 trades and demonstration sites.


The 301-acre Historic Area includes buildings from the 17th through the 19th century and re-created buildings related to its colonial and American Revolutionary War history. It is one of the most ambitious restoration projects in the country.


Williamsburg, VA - Peyton Randolph HouseWilliamsburg, VA - Peyton Randolph HouseThe Peyton Randolph House at Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia. Built in 1715, the house was restored by Colonial Williamsburg over three years, ending in 1940. The living-history museum is the world's largest, boasting 200 buildings (88 of them original 18th-Century), more than 40 demonstration sites and trades, four historic taverns, and two art museums.


The Williamsburg Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark District on October 9, 1960, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.


Williamsburg-Jamestown, VA - Colonial ParkwayWilliamsburg-Jamestown, VA - Colonial Parkway


Today it is Virginia's busiest tourist attraction and the cornerstone of the Historic Triangle, with Jamestown and Yorktown, joined by the Colonial Parkway. For more information and to plan your visit, see the official website of Colonial Williamsburg here

Read our article about Colonial Williamsburg Virginia



Don't be the confused tourist like me. Know where you are when you go to historic Jamestown. 


Jamestown, VA - Jamestown Settlement MuseumJamestown, VA - Jamestown Settlement Museum



The first place you will see is Jamestown Settlement Museum. But you are not at the original Jamestown colony/fort yet.  Jamestown Settlement museum is an immersive learning experience that includes film, gallery exhibits, and outdoor living history. 



Jamestown, VA - Jamestown Historic Ship MuseumJamestown, VA - Jamestown Historic Ship Museum


We chose to bypass the museum and head straight for the Jamestown Historic Site just beyond. On our way, we caught a glimpse of the Jamestown Historic Ship Museum. 


Jamestown, VA - MonumentJamestown, VA - Monument


From the visitors center at Jamestown National Historic Site, you'll take a nice leisurely stroll along a footbridge into the original site of the colony.



Jamestown, VA - Monument InscriptionJamestown, VA - Monument Inscription


Historic Jamestown is the site of the first permanent English settlement in North America and represents the very foundations of whom and what we are as a nation. Although there were other European settlements in America before Jamestown, our language, customs, and laws come from our English ancestry. Jamestown is the beginning of America.


Jamestown, VA - Capt Smith MemorialJamestown, VA - Capt Smith Memorial


Captain John Smith established Jamestown as the first permanent English settlement for the Virginia Company, which funded the venture. Smith would play an important role in the exploration of Virginia and Chesapeake Bay. He was also pretty braggadocious, making it difficult to determine which parts of his life are fact, and which are, well...BS. 


Jamestown, VA - Pocahontas MemorialJamestown, VA - Pocahontas Memorial


This is Matoaka, daughter of a powerful Powhatan Indian Chief, Wahunsunacawh. According to Captain John Smith, she virtually saved him after being captured and put through rituals by the tribe. She would have been 11 at the time.  You know her as Pocahontas, her nickname adopted at a young age, which means Little-wanton. Pocahontas, who visited Jamestown several times to see her new friend John, would go on to become a pop culture "Indian Princess". Read more about her here.


Jamestown - Memorial ChurchJamestown - Memorial Church


Archeological studies from the early 1900s exposed foundations of the 17th Century churches that once stood here.  A new church to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Jamestown was built in 1907 next took the church tower which had been standing since the 1600s. 


Jamestown_church_ruins_bw1900Jamestown Church Tower Ruins circa 1900


There continue to be active digs around the original Jamestown settlement. In 2019 the Memorial Church reopened after being closed for two years for excavations within the building. During that time, archaeologists re-examined the foundations of the 17th-century churches that once stood on the site. Following completion of the digging, a new floor and wooden framing reflecting the footprint and structure of the 1617 church were installed. Additional exhibit components explain more about the original church and the significance of the First Assembly.


Jamestown, VA - Ambler HouseJamestown, VA - Ambler House


The Ambler Mansion ruins outside of the original fort walls are the only remains from the Amber family's 1750s plantation estate. The house was burned down in two wars, and after a third fire in 1895, it was abandoned. 

There is a lot to see and learn here. Make sure you plan a full day to explore the museums and original site of the colony. For information and status see the National Park Service website here

Read our full article on Jamestown here

Also See: 

Captain John Smith - Settling the First Colony

Powhatan Tribe – Dominating Virginia in History




Yorktown Harbor, VA, 1903Yorktown Harbor, VA, 1903Yorktown Harbor, Virginia by the Detroit Photographic Co., 1903.


If Jamestown was the beginning of English Colonialism, Yorktown was the beginning of the end for the British.  It had been six years since the beginning of the Revolutionary War with England when with help from the French, General George Washington outmaneuvered  British General Clinton and trapped British General Lord Earl Cornwallis here at Yorktown. By the end of September 1781, approximately 17,600 American and French soldiers were gathered in Williamsburg, while 8,300 British soldiers were occupying Yorktown.


York Town - Moore House LOCYork Town - Moore House LOCCornwallis surrendered here at the home of the Moore's in October 1781. Photo circa 1903, Library of Congress.


As the American Patriots moved in, Cornwallis realized it was over, and on October 17, he sent a drummer and officer with a white flag to request a cease-fire. On October 18, officers from both sides met at the Moore House, a mile outside of Yorktown to settle the terms of surrender. 


Yorktown, VA - Military OfficersYorktown, VA - Military OfficersMilitary officers walk down Main Street in Yorktown.


Although over 25,000 British Troops remained in America, the defeat was a huge, celebrated victory for a new nation, and with England already stretched thin through other military struggles in India, Ireland, and other colonies, the British government passed a resolution that next March to discontinue the war with the United States. The final treaty was signed in September 1783.


Yorktown, VA -  MonumentYorktown, VA - Monument


It didn't take long for the Continental Congress to recognize the glorious victory in Yorktown, and on October 29, 1781, they passed a resolution for a monument. 

"That the United States in Congress assembled, will cause to be erected at york, in Virginia, a marble column, adorned with emblems of the alliance between the United States and his Most Christian Majesty; and inscribed with a succinct narrative of the surrender of earl Cornwallis to his excellency General Washington, Commander in Chief of the combined forces of America and France; to his excellency the Count de Rochambeau, commanding the Auxilliary troops of his most Christian Majesty in America, and his excellency the Count de Grasse, commanding in chief the naval army of France in the Chesapeake."


Yorktown, VA -  Monument TopYorktown, VA - Monument Top


However, in a typical political fashion, the monument wasn't started until 100 years later when the Order of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons laid the cornerstone on October 18, 1881.


Yorktown, VA - Digges House 1760Yorktown, VA - Digges House 1760


There's a lot to see at the Yorktown Battlefield, part of the Colonial National Historic Park. Like the Dudley Digges home built around 1760.  It was heavily damaged during the Battle but restored in 1960. Today it is used as an office for park employees. Digges's first wife Martha died giving birth to a child here.  No wonder it's said she still haunts the house. 


Yorktown, VA - StreetYorktown, VA - Street


It was a beautiful October day for a stroll in Yorktown.  The building on the left is the Sessions-Pope-Shield House built in 1691. 


Yorktown, VA - SiegeYorktown, VA - SiegeSiege of Yorktown, Virginia - Views of the Federal Battery


Yorktown also had involvement in the Civil War, as it was again the site of major siege operations during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862


See more about Yorktown Battlefield via the National Park Service website here. 


Start your learning adventure about America's war for independence here on our American Revolution Main Page




For RV'ers



While making our adventure through Colonial National Historic Park, we stayed at the Colonial Pines Campground at Williamsburg Christian Retreat Center.  This was a very nice RV Park and one we would recommend checking out.  See their availability and information via their website here

Cya on the Road, 

Dave Alexander

(Legends of America Photo Prints) about Appomattox history Jamestown travel Williamsburg Yorktown https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/11/sweet-virginia Tue, 16 Nov 2021 20:12:16 GMT
Finding Our Lumps in West Virginia https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/10/finding-our-lumps-in-west-virginia After a brief stay outside of Springfield Ohio, we continued our trek east and found ourselves passing through the states first, and third, capital before pushing into coal country. 


Chillicothe, Ohio


Chillicothe, OH - Building AdvertisingChillicothe, OH - Building AdvertisingPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


Nathaniel Massie and a party of 39 men laid out the town of Chillicothe, with 456 lots, in the summer of 1796. He named it from a derivation of the Shawnee word “Cha-la-gaw-tha,” which means town or gathering place.


Chillicothe, OH - Hopewell Indian MoundsChillicothe, OH - Hopewell Indian MoundsPhoto by the National Park Service


This region had been home to the Hopewell and Adena native culture and later the Shawnee, before European settlement. You can see a glimpse of the native life, including the Hopewell Mounds at the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park just north of town.  


Chillicothe, OH - StreetChillicothe, OH - StreetPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


The town grew rapidly, becoming a center of political influence within the Northwest Territory. By late 1796, several taverns, stores, and artisan shops had been built.



Chillicothe, OH - Ross County CourthouseChillicothe, OH - Ross County CourthousePhoto by Kathy Alexander.


In the summer of 1798, Ross County was incorporated, and Chillicothe became the county seat. Two years later, when Indiana Territory was split off of the old Northwest Territory, Chillicothe was named the capital of the remnant Northwest Territory. When Ohio moved to statehood, Chillicothe was named the state capital.  However, politics lead to the capital being moved to Zanesville in 1810, only to be moved back in 1812. It was permanently moved to Columbus in 1816, however, Chillicothe continued to grow.



Chillicothe, OH - Paper MillChillicothe, OH - Paper MillPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


By this time, Chillicothe was known for its paper producing industry, however, it would cement that status when the Mead Paper Company purchased a facility there in 1890. Mead merged with Westvaco in 2001 and has changed hands a couple of times since then, and is now the Pixelle paper mill and the town’s largest employer.


Chillicothe, OH - Majestic TheatreChillicothe, OH - Majestic TheatrePhoto by Kathy Alexander.


There is a lot more to Chillicothe, including its military importance as a training center during the War of 1812, its ties to the Civil War, and Camp Sherman, which was active from 1917 to the 1920s.  Read about the rich history of Chillicothe HERE.


Also see: 

Hopewell Culture of Native Americans

The Adena Culture of the Northeast

The Shawnee




A Hard Life in Coal Country


Charleston, WV - Skyline - 2Charleston, WV - Skyline


That's Charleston, West Virginia, the state capital, as we passed through on our way to Beckley. We were on a mission to one of our first "primary destinations", coal country. 


Beckley, WV - Exhibition Coal MineBeckley, WV - Exhibition Coal Mine


The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine (Phillips-Sprague Mine) opened in 1889 and was commercially developed in 1905 with the first shipment of coal in January 1906. 


Beckley, WV - Exhibition Coal Mine - TourBeckley, WV - Exhibition Coal Mine - Tour


We took the mine tour and learned quite a bit from our guide, who is a veteran miner, about the early days of the mine and the daily responsibilities of past and present coal miners. Just how hard of a life? Well, imagine crawling through a space only tall enough for you to sit on your knees, see only what could be illuminated by your single flame, dig out coal from the walls, picking out the rock, loading a cart, and hauling it out.  And for all that effort, the early miner was paid 20 Cents per ton and worked 10 hours a day.


Beckley, WV - Exhibition Coal Mine ExhibitBeckley, WV - Exhibition Coal Mine Exhibit


During the tour, we heard about the advances in mining methods throughout the years, and how even with the newer methods, coal mining is still a hard and dangerous operation. The guide took us through this drift mine on tracks going 1,500 feet up and around the mined-out areas, stopping along the way with fascinating stories and examples of the mining methods and equipment used through the years. The tour lasts around 30 minutes and is well worth it. Be sure to dress accordingly as the mine is a consistent 58 degrees.


Beckley, WV - Exhibition Coal Mine This Way OutBeckley, WV - Exhibition Coal Mine This Way OutPhoto by Dave Alexander.


This mine was active until 1953 when the property was sold to the city of Beckley.  The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine opened in 1962, as the first historic site wholly dedicated to educating the public about coal mining, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. If you are not into the tour on rail, you can still see and learn quite a bit in the museum, period coal camp buildings situated throughout the grounds, and a youth museum opened later.  Plan ahead as tours are seasonal, running April 1 to November 1, and start about every half hour during peak tourism.  You'll need around 2 and a half hours to do the tour, museum and visit the period buildings on the grounds. They also offer group tours during the off-season depending on the weather. 

For more information, see the city of Beckley's website here.



Welch, A County Seat Before it was even a town. 


Welch, Wv - Saturday afternoon street scene, 1946Welch, Wv - Saturday afternoon street scene, 1946


On one of our day trips from Beckley, we squirreled down 49 miles to the Southwest on WV 97/16 to explore more coal mining in Welch. Named for Isiah Welch, a former captain in the Confederate States Army who came to the region as a surveyor, the town got an early start as the McDowell County Seat when voters approved it in 1892. The town was incorporated in 1893.


Welch, Wv -Young boy around 13 working the trip rope for Welch Mining in 1908Welch, Wv -Young boy around 13 working the trip rope for Welch Mining in 1908


With the establishment of railroads and coal mining in the early 1900s, Welch became "The Heart of the Nation's Coal Bin", with McDowell County being ranked first in the nation for coal production by the mid-1900s.  


Welch, WV - StreetWelch, WV - Street 2021


McDowell County began to decline after the post-WWII boom in production as coal was being replaced with oil in many parts of the country, and the tasks of mining were seeing the fruits of improved methods and Mechanics in mining. 



Welch, WV - MuralWelch, WV - Mural


President John Kennedy toured Welch and McDowell County in 1960, seeing first hand the loss of jobs to machines. Despite being the nation's top producer, residents were struggling, which led to the nation's first food stamps and begin our government's "War on Poverty".  During a speech in Canton, Ohio on September 27, 1960, Kennedy said "McDowell County mines more coal than it ever has in its history, probably more coal than any county in the United States and yet there are more people getting surplus food packages in McDowell County than any county in the United States. The reason is that machines are doing the jobs of men, and we have not been able to find jobs for those men."


Welch, WV - Budweiser BuildingWelch, WV - Budweiser Building


Losses in the steel industry, as well as the closure of US Steel Mines nearby in 1986, resulted in over 1,200 job losses and major declines in income and real estate values. This forced many miners to abandon their homes and search for a new life elsewhere. 


Welch, WV - CourthouseWelch, WV - Courthouse


Today, the McDowell County Courthouse and Welch Commercial Historic District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 


Welch, WV - Parking GarageWelch, WV - Parking Garage


Welch is known for several "firsts".  The first children's playground in West Virginia in 1913, the first memorial building in the U.S. honoring World War I soldiers in 1923 (since burned down), and the first municipally owned parking building in the United States,  opened in 1941. Welch was also home to Minnie Buckingham Harper, who became the first black woman legislator in the United States in 1923 when the Governor appointed her to replace her deceased husband.

For more information, see the city of Welch website here. 

You'll pass through plenty more West Virginia coal towns in this area, and it's worth the time to plan out a route to explore.  Just know these roads are really curvy and some are narrow, so make sure to park your travel trailer before trying this stretch if you have one.  And plan on a long day of exploring.  There will be several other towns in this area we'll write about soon I'm sure. 


New River Gorge National Park and Preserve


Thurmond, WV - Depot SignThurmond, WV - Depot Sign


Our second day trip took us north and east of Beckley to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, where we found the historic town of Thurmond. 


Thurmond, WV - Coal TownThurmond, WV - Coal Town


A former railroad community, Thurmond was a prosperous town with numerous businesses but is a West Virginia ghost town today. 


Thurmond, WV - New River BridgeThurmond, WV - New River BridgeNew River Bridge in Thurmond, West Virginia by Kathy Weiser-Aleander.


The settlement was established by Captain William D. Thurmond after he was commissioned to survey the land on the north side of New River in the heart of New River Gorge. As payment for his services, he received 73 acres of land in April 1873. The same year, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad opened its main line from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ohio River. When the railroad bridged the New River in 1888-1889 just a couple hundred yards east of Thurmond on the south side of the river, things began to change. A railroad station was built in 1888 at the bridge location, and soon Thurmond’s land became an asset yard for the railroad. A post office called Arbuckle also opened in 1888.


Thurmond, Wv - Train Coming ThroughThurmond, Wv - Train Coming Through


With the completion of the bridge, the mining industry was able to open new mines and ship coal more easily. By 1893, the C&O Loup Creek branch served 26 mines and was one of the railroads’ busiest spurs in the New River region. In 1900, the town was officially incorporated and named Thurmond. 


Thurmond, WV - New River Bank - Mankin BuildingThurmond, WV - New River Bank - Mankin Building


The Mankin-Cox Building was built in 1904 at the southern limits of the commercial district. The structure was built by Dr. J.W. Mankin and housed the Mankin Drug Company on the right side, and  Tom McKell opened the New River Banking & Trust Company on the left side. The Mankin-Cox Building is the oldest building in the commercial district.


Thurmond, WV - National Bank of ThurmondThurmond, WV - National Bank of ThurmondNational Bank in Thurmond, West Virginia by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


This four-story building was constructed by the Bullock Realty Company in 1917 and housed a jewelry company until 1922 when it was acquired by the National Bank of Thurmond. After renovations, the first level was initially cast-iron storefronts, but the bank remodeled their half into a limestone classical revival facade. After the Bank closed in 1931, a clothing store later operated out of the space, and residents lived in the upper floors until 1959. In 1975, the building owners connected it to an adjoining building and formed The Bankers Club, a hotel and restaurant that closed in 1988. 



Thurmond, WV - DepotThurmond, WV - Depot


Thurmond has seen its share of fires, which have destroyed more than one hotel and the depot over the past century.  The two-story Thurmond Depot was built in 1904 after the original station was destroyed by fire. Today the station is a landmark structure in the town, practically unchanged after more than a century. Re-habilitated in 1995, it now serves as a National Park Visitor Center and an active Amtrak station. Much of the interior is still in place including the round, tongue and groove ticket windows and some waiting room benches.  We missed the summer hours being here in October, so the depot was closed during our visit. 



Thurmond, WV - Railroad Coaling TowerThurmond, WV - Railroad Coaling Tower


In 1978, the National Park Service established the New River Gorge National Park to conserve and interpret the natural, scenic, and historical values of the New River Gorge.  Thurmond was identified as a prime historical site, and in 1984 the Thurmond Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

This town has a great history! Read our new article about Thurmond HERE

And by the way, we found our lumps of coal on the tracks of Thurmond. I'm sure one will find its way into my stocking this holiday season.  


New River Gorge Arch BridgeNew River Gorge Arch Bridge - Carol Highsmith


The New River Gorge Bridge on US 19 was completed in October 1977 and was a major improvement to the lives of West Virginians.  The bridge reduced a 40-minute drive down narrow mountain roads and across the river to less than a minute.  When it was finished, the New River Gorge Bridge's arch made it the longest steel arch bridge in the world, a title it held until 2003 with the construction of China’s Shanghai’s Lupu Bridge. It is currently the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the United States and the third-highest bridge in the country. It remains the longest steel span in the western hemisphere and the third highest in the United States. One of the most photographed places in West Virginia, the National Park Service listed the New River Gorge Bridge in the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 as a significant historic resource.

Read more about the New River Gorge Bridge via the National Park Service here. 


There were many more towns that piqued our interest and we'll be adding up additional stories soon. Be watching our What's New page, or even better, subscribe to our monthly newsletter.   

Also, see our growing West Virginia Photo Print Gallery HERE.


For RVers


While in West Virginia we stayed at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine Campground, a small 17 space campground open April 1 through December 1. Full hookups are available, but some COVID restrictions are in place as of this writing, including a ban on tents. All sites are paved and shaded. The campground is a little tight, but well worth it if you can plan ahead.  It appeared to us only a few of the 17 spaces would handle longer rigs.  We parked in a 55-foot space, but up the hill, the spaces were shorter.  For more information, see their website here



Cya on the road!

Dave Alexander



(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arch Bridge Beckley Chillicothe Ohio Exhibition Coal Mine New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Thurmond tour Welch https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/10/finding-our-lumps-in-west-virginia Sun, 17 Oct 2021 21:14:56 GMT
From the National Road to Worlds Largest Stuff in the Land of Lincoln https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/10/illinois-oldest-capitol-and-caseys-worlds-largest-stuff We're on our way to Virginia and the parts of the East Coast.  On our journey through Illinois, we discovered some things we didn't know. 


Vandalia, IL - Main StreetVandalia, IL - Main StreetVandalia is home to the oldest standing capitol building in Illinois with a history on the National Road.


About 70miles Northeast of St. Louis, we made a stop in Vandalia, Illinois, home of the state's oldest existing capitol building.


Vandalia, IL - State HouseVandalia, IL - State HouseThe oldest capitol building still standing in Illinois.


President Abraham Lincoln started his political career in Vandalia.  His second term began in the still-standing capitol building, the third building to serve that purpose in Vandalia, which is the second capital city of Illinois, the first being Kaskaskia. The capitol building was opened in 1836 and operated until 1839. Interestingly, it was Lincoln that convinced the state to move its capital city to Springfield so it would be more centrally located.


Vandalia, IL - Madonna TrailVandalia, IL - Madonna of the TrailA memorial to the Pioneer Mothers of the Covered Wagon Days.


Vandalia is also the western terminus of the Cumberland Road authorized by the US Congress in 1806. You might know it as the National Road. Today a monument stands in honor of the Pioneering women who trekked west on the nation's first highway built between 1811 and 1834. 




Worlds Largest Stuff in Casey


Casey, IL - MuralCasey, IL - Mural


When the National Road through Clark County was completed in 1834, several settlements began to spring up along the trail.  One of those was Cumberland, about a mile east of the current city of Casey.  Casey would draw more population though when it was established in 1853.


Casey, IL - Worlds Largest PitchforkCasey, IL - Worlds Largest Pitchfork


Oil was big here, though it took a while for them to figure out the best methods of getting it.  Drilling in the area began around 1857, but early techniques and lack of know-how produced little crude before 1900. Then in 1904, Casey found itself in an official Oil Boom, as drillers from Pennslyvania came with experience and the proper tools. By 1907 two thousand wells had been drilled between Casey and Westfield, producing 24 million barrels of oil that year. 


Casey, IL - Old Bank BuildingCasey, IL - Old Bank Building


The sudden growth resulted in up to 4 banks and 10 Saloons and brought the interest of America's wealthy, like John D. Rockefeller, who purchased an area oil field for one million dollars in 1910.


Casey, IL - Worlds Largest RockerCasey, IL - Worlds Largest Rocker


Today this small city's motto is "Big things in a small town", and they do one heck of a job living up to that. 


Casey sports the world's largest... well uh.. stuff.


Casey, IL - Worlds Largest PitchforkCasey, IL - Worlds Largest Pitchfork


The list of Worlds Largest includes a Pitchfork, Golf Tee, Rocking Chair, Teeter-Totter, Wind Chime, Key, Barbers Pole, Mail Box, Wooden Shoes, Golf Club, and Swizzle Spoon. 


Casey, IL - Big Bird CageCasey, IL - Big Bird Cage Casey, IL - Worlds Largest Barber PoleCasey, IL - Worlds Largest Barber Pole Casey, IL - Worlds Largest Mail BoxCasey, IL - Worlds Largest Mail Box Casey, IL - Worlds Largest ChimeCasey, IL - Worlds Largest Chime Casey, IL - Worlds Largest KeyCasey, IL - Worlds Largest Key


There are also other Big Attractions that didn't quite make Guinness Book of Worlds largest but are larger than life. From a spin top to a mousetrap, antlers, and more, it's a fun day just walking and driving around downtown Casey.


Casey, IL - Big PencilCasey, IL - Big Pencil Casey, IL - Big MousetrapCasey, IL - Big Mousetrap Casey, IL - Big AntlersCasey, IL - Big Antlers


You can find details on Big Things Small Town, Casey's official website, which includes a handy downloadable map here

Read more about the nation's first highway, The National Road Here

Visit more Illinois Here.

See our Southern Illinois Photo Galleries



MoonshineMoonshineMoonshine Store in the ghost town of Moonshine Illinois.

For lunch, we headed about 10 miles southeast of Casey to the Moonshine Store for a delicious burger. Moonshine sports a population of 2 according to the sign on the front of the store, however, we're told the couple that ran the place since the early '80s have passed over the last few years. You may be thinking, 'I've heard of that place.'  Moonshine has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning Show and Late Night with David Letterman. Life here actually dates back to the 1850s, when it is said a family from Philadelphia named it to honor locations in Pennsylvania. The General Store opened in 1912 and it is worth your time to find your way to Moonshine, but be aware, they are only serving until 1 and the grill is turned off at 12:30 pm sharp.  

Check out Moonshine Store's website here for more information


For RVers


Casey, IL - Fairview Park FountainCasey, IL - Fairview Park Fountain

Casey was supposed to be a quick one-night stand on the way to Virginia, but immediately we knew we would stay another. We camped in our 28ft travel trailer at Fairview Park, and there is room for bigger. Very nice campground with pull-through level pads, plenty with shade. $25 a night with electric/water (30 & 50 amp), a dump station, showers, and bathrooms (showers were closed during our visit). 


Casey, IL - Softball Hall of Fame Big BatCasey, IL - Softball Hall of Fame Big Bat

This park has a lot to offer, from ponds with waterworks to the Casey Softball Museum, home of the USA Softball of Illinois Hall of Fame. Take note, you want to enter the main gates to the park as that is your easiest way into the campground. We didn't, but Jerry Clark, the campground manager since 1987 who lives across the street, chased us down and offered to guide us to a spot.  We were here on a weekday and most of the time had the campground to ourselves. Jerry is also the one that pointed us to Moonshine. We really like Jerry

Cya on the road!

Dave Alexander

(Legends of America Photo Prints) about Casey history Illinois Moonshine National Road oldest state capitol building still standing photos travel Vandalia Worlds Largest https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/10/illinois-oldest-capitol-and-caseys-worlds-largest-stuff Sat, 09 Oct 2021 20:55:52 GMT
Bent's Fort - Trading on the Trails https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/9/bents-fort-trading-on-the-trails We've been here before, but this year is special for Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site.



It's the 200th Anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail, and this trader's post was a big part of commerce on this route and others. 


BentsFort-nps-2Bent's Fort, CO - CaravanPhoto by the National Park Service.


Situated on the north bank of the Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado, this non-military fort was one of the most significant outposts on the Santa Fe Trail, and as the principal outpost of American civilization on the southwestern Plains, it was instrumental in shaping the destiny of the area.


Bent's Fort, CO - Trading Post - 2Bent's Fort, CO - Trading Post - 2Photo by Kathy Alexander.


In the heart of Indian country, buffalo hunting grounds and at the crossroads of key overland routes, it was a fur-trading center and rendezvous point for traders and Indians; a way station and supply center for emigrants and caravans; and the chief point of contact and cultural transmission between white settlers and Indians of the southern Plains.


Bent's Fort, CO - Interior Courtyard - 3Bent's Fort, CO - Interior Courtyard
William Bent, who had apparently been trading independently, erected a large adobe fort on the north bank of the Arkansas River, 12 miles west of the mouth of the Purgatoire River. At first named Fort William, it was also known as Bent’s Fort and finally as Bent’s Old Fort.


Bent's Fort, CO - From AboveBent's Fort, CO - From AbovePhoto by Kathy Alexander.


Elaborately constructed, it was eventually a massive adobe structure of quadrangular shape having 24 rooms lining the walls.


Bent's Fort, CO - Interior Courtyard - 2Bent's Fort, CO - Interior Courtyard


For 16 years Bent, St. Vrain, and Co. managed a highly profitable trading empire stretching from Texas to Wyoming and from the Rocky Mountains to Kansas, as well as participating in the Santa Fe trade.


Bent's Fort, CO -  Edward Dorris GraveBent's Fort, CO - Edward Dorris GraveEdward Dorris, a stagecoach driver, died of sunstroke or a heart attack en route to Bent's Old Fort, a Barlow and Sanderson stagecoach station in the 1860s. Like others who had gone before him, the hardship of life on the Santa Fe Trail ended here at Bent's Fort. Of the 13 graves located in this cemetery, 12 are covered with adobe bricks, while Dorris' grave is covered with limestone and marked. This may be the cemetery described by visitors to Bent's Fort in the 1840s. "In the evening, another Missouri volunteer died and was buried. They were obliged to cover the graves with prickly pear or cocks to prevent the wolves from tearing the bodies out of the ground..." Lieutenant Albert, US Army of the West, 1847.

The cemetery has never been completely excavated.

Photo by Dave Alexander.


Edward Dorris, a stagecoach driver, died of sunstroke or a heart attack en route to Bent's Old Fort, in the 1860s. Like others who had gone before him, the hardship of life on the Santa Fe Trail ended here.


Bent's Fort, CO - Edward Dorris GraveBent's Fort, CO - Edward Dorris Grave


Of the 13 graves located in this cemetery, twelve are covered with adobe bricks while Dorris' grave is covered with limestone and marked. The cemetery has never been completely excavated.


Bent's Fort, CO - Dining RoomBent's Fort, CO - Dining RoomPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


As the Mexican-American War approached, events beyond their control were destined to destroy the company and the trade. In 1846, the U.S. Army decided to use the post as a staging base for the conquest of New Mexico. 


BentsFort-npsBent's Fort, CO - View - 2Photo by the National Park Service.


That summer General Stephen W. Kearny and his Army of the West, followed by some 300 to 400 wagons of Santa Fe traders, rested at the fort before proceeding to occupy New Mexico.



When Kearny departed, Government wagon trains congregated in ever-increasing numbers. Horses and mules overgrazed nearby pastures. Quartermaster stores piled up at the fort, and soldiers and teamsters in Government employ occupied the rooms. 


Bent's Fort, CO - Wagon & OxenBent's Fort, CO - Wagon & OxenPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


Not only did the Government fail to compensate the company adequately, but trade also suffered because the Indians were reluctant to come near. 


Bent's Fort, CO - Blacksmith ShopBent's Fort, CO - Blacksmith ShopPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


When the railroads replaced stagecoaches, the buildings served as cattle corrals and gradually collapsed and disintegrated. 


BentsFortCOCarolHighsmithBent's Fort, CO - Covered WagonBent's Old Fort National Historic Site on the Santa Fe Trail in eastern Colorado. Photo by Carol Highsmith.


Early in the 1950s the Colorado State Historical Society acquired Bent’s Old Fort and soon arranged for an archeological investigation to determine the fort’s general outlines. These excavations provided the information to entire reconstruct the old adobe trading post.


Bent's Fort, CO - FlagBent's Fort, CO - FlagPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2009.


 The site was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1960. 


Bent's Fort, CO - WelcomeBent's Fort, CO - WelcomePhoto by Kathy Alexander.


Today, living historians recreate the sights, sounds, and smells of the past with guided tours, demonstrations, and special events. You and your family can also take the self-guided tour. Take note that pets are not allowed inside the walls of the fort. 


Let's Go Adventure in Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site

Learn about its history HERE

See our Bent's Fort Photo Print Collection HERE

Learn about the Santa Fe Trail - Highway to the Southwest, Celebrating its 200th Anniversary

Check Bent's Old Fort event schedules and Covid status via the National Park Service HERE



For RV'ers

During our visit to Bent's Fort, we stayed in La Junta just a few miles away, at the KOA campground.  Very friendly folks, nice clean park, dog run and more.  Prices on par with most other KOA campgrounds. See their website here


(Legends of America Photo Prints) about Bent's Old Fort destination history photos Santa Fe Trail travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/9/bents-fort-trading-on-the-trails Sat, 04 Sep 2021 13:26:03 GMT
Cimarron and the Santa Fe Trail https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/9/cimarron-and-the-santa-fe-trail While we were in the Eagle Nest and Moreno Valley area, we took a trip westward through Cimarron Canyon to the historic Santa Fe Trail at Cimarron, New Mexico.


Cimarron Canyon, NM - PallisadespCimarron Canyon, NM - PalisadesThe Cimarron Palisades are spectacular cliffs in the Cimarron River canyon between Eagle Nest and Cimarron, NM.


The canyon provides some spectacular views of the Palisades in the eastern part of Cimarron Canyon State Park.


Cimarron Canyon, NM - Clear Creek Log - 2Cimarron Canyon, NM - Clear Creek Log Weather's Store, once a popular stop along the scenic highway through Cimarron Canyon, featured this carved-out log with cool freshwater flowing through it. Although the store building was moved to Eagle Nest, the log remains today at the beginning of Clear Creek Trail in Cimarron Canyon State Park.


You'll find hiking trails and more along the Cimarron River and throughout the State Park.


Cimarron, NM - Old SawmillCimarron, NM - Old SawmillOld Sawmill coming into Cimarron


Established within an almost two million acre land grant, Cimarron, New Mexico was built upon what was originally the Beaubien-Miranda Land Grant.


Cimarron, NM - Beaubien-Maxwell GravesCimarron, NM - Beaubien-Maxwell GravesBeaubien-Maxwell family Graves


In 1842, Lucien B. Maxwell, a fur trapper from Illinois, came to the area, working as a guide. He married one of Beaubien's daughters that same year. In 1857, Maxwell bought Miranda's interest in the grant and continued to develop the area. 


Cimarron, NM - Dold Brothers WarehouseCimarron, NM - Dold Brothers Warehouse Dold Brothers Warehouse


Warehouses and supply stores were much in demand along the Santa Fe Trail. M. R. Whiteman built this house as a freighting depot for the Andres Daws stage line. It was later used by the Dold Brothers (also spelled Dahl), who operated a freight line between Missouri and Las Vegas, New Mexico. In 1861 it became a Trading Post and Indian Agency and served as a commissary for Lucien Maxwell. In 1873 it was a general store run by Henry Miller Porter and Asa F. Middaugh and two years later it had become the office of the new Cimarron News and Press


Cimarron, NM - Old Trading CompanyCimarron, NM - Old Trading CompanyCimarron, NM - Old Trading Company


Cimarron was officially established in 1861 and was named for the Spanish word meaning “wild” and “unbroken.” Increasing Indian troubles and irregular service led to a change in the mail stage route over Raton Pass in 1861, stopping at Maxwell's ranch in Cimarron.


Cimarron, NM - Barlow & Sanderson Stage StationCimarron, NM - Barlow & Sanderson Stage StationBarlow & Sanderson Stage Station


In 1863, Barlow, Sanderson & Company obtained the stage route.


Cimarron, NM - Barlow & Sanderson Stage StationCimarron, NM - Barlow & Sanderson Stage StationOld Barlow & Sanderson Stage Station


This building was used as the local stage office from 1870 until the mail route closed in 1880 with the coming of the railroad to Springer, 25 miles to the east. It was then used as a Wells Fargo Office and later converted into a mercantile store in the early 1900s.


Cimarron, NM- Maxwell HouseCimarron, NM - Maxwell HouseLucien Maxwell's House in Cimarron no longer stands. It was located west of the plaza.


In 1864, after the death of his father-in-law, Maxwell bought out the five other heirs, becoming the largest landowner in the United States and renamed the property the Maxwell Land Grant. The Maxwell Cimarron mansion pictured above no longer stands.  It was located west of the plaza. 


Cimarron, NM - Aztec Mill - 2Cimarron, NM - Aztec Mill Aztec Mill


Cimarron, NM - Aztec MillCimarron, NM - Aztec Mill


Maxwell had the Aztec Mill built in 1864. Capable of grinding 15,000 pounds of wheat per day, the mill supplied flour for Fort Union and distributed supplies to the area Indians, for which Maxwell was compensated by the federal government. The mill operated until 1870.


Cimarron, NM - Jail TodayCimarron, NM - JailOld Jail in Cimarron


Cimarron was a wild and rough boomtown as the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail brought in some rowdies. 


Cimarron, NM - New Town ShopsCimarron, NM - New Town Shops


At one time, Cimarron boasted 16 saloons, 4 hotels, and numerous trading stores. 


Cimarron, NM - BuildingsCimarron, NM - BuildingsPhoto by Dave Alexander.


One of the hotels, Lambert's Inn, opened by Henry Lambert, became the infamous St. James Hotel.


Cimarron, NM - St. James Hotel VintageCimarron, NM - St. James Hotel


Built in 1872 by Henry Lambert, the hotel's saloon, restaurant, and 43 rooms were witness to at least 26 murders during Cimarron’s wilder days. The Hotel was later renamed St. James and continues to cater to travelers today.


Cimarron, NM - St. James Hotel, 2021Cimarron, NM - St. James Hotel, 2021St. James Hotel, 2021


It's also said to be haunted!

Cimarron, NM - St. James Hotel Mary Lambert RoomCimarron, NM - St. James Hotel Mary Lambert Room Cimarron, NM - St. James Hotel Poker RoomCimarron, NM - St. James Hotel Poker Room


Today, Cimarron is a quaint mountain community called home to about 900 people.


Cimarron, NM - Dragonfly Brewing CompanyCimarron, NM - Dragonfly Brewing CompanyPhoto by Kathy Alexander.

Read all about Cimarron HERE

Also see

The Maxwell Land Grant - Largest in US History

Haunted St. James Hotel



Rayado, NM - Maxwell Home - 2Rayado, NM - Maxwell HomeMaxwell's first home in Rayado.


Before helping to establish Cimarron, Maxwell built this house in what would become Rayado, 10 miles south. Kit Carson also had a home here at one time. 


Rayado, NM - MuseumRayado, NM - Museum


In fact, it was Maxwell and Carson that established Rayado in 1848, although Carson realized the danger of Indian attack and never moved his family there.


Philmont Scout Ranch, NM - Santa Trail & Tooth of TimePhilmont Scout Ranch, NM - Santa Trail & Tooth of Time


Rayado, which means “streaked” in Spanish, was perhaps named so for the beautiful cliffs close to the settlement.


Rayado, NM - La Posta Stage StationRayado, NM - La Posta Stage Station


As Rayado was located near the point where the Mountain Route and the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail rejoined, both Carson and Maxwell entertained a number of Santa Fe Trail traders.


Rayado, NM - Camp - 3Rayado, NM - Camp - 3 Rayado, NM - Museum - 5Rayado, NM - Museum
In April 1850, Rayado was raided by Jicarilla Apache Indians, who stole horses and seriously wounded two Mexican herders. Afterward, a federal garrison post was established at Rayado that lasted until Fort Union was established the following year.


Philmont Scout Ranch, NM - ScoutsPhilmont Scout Ranch, NM - Scouts


Today, Rayado is part of the Philmont Scout Ranch and includes the original Maxwell home, a reconstruction of Carson’s home, the Chapel of the Holy Child, and La Posta, a Santa Fe Trail stage stop dating from the 1850s.


Rayado, NM - Building -2Rayado, NM - Building


Read about Rayado HERE

See our entire Colfax County Photo Print Gallery HERE


Also see

Santa Fe Trail - Highway to the Southwest

The Santa Fe Trail in New Mexico

Maxwell Ranch on the Santa Fe Trail (by H. Inman, 1897)

Lucien Maxwell by a Santa Fe Trail Driver

Cya On the Road


(Legends of America Photo Prints) about aztec mill Cimarron destination history Lucien B. Maxwell museum Philmont Scout ranch Rayado St. James Hotel travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/9/cimarron-and-the-santa-fe-trail Thu, 02 Sep 2021 16:58:20 GMT
The Beauty & History of New Mexico's Moreno Valley https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/8/beauty-history-of-new-mexicos-moreno-valley Plus one lucky dog...

Eagle Nest Lake - From Mount BaldyEagle Nest Lake - From Baldy MountainEagle Nest Lake and the town of Eagle Nest, taken from Baldy Mountain. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2006.


For us, the Moreno Valley, nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northeastern New Mexico, is a magical place of beauty and history.


Eagle Nest, NM - Eagle Nest LakeEagle Nest, NM - Eagle Nest LakeEagle Nest Lake against the background of Touch Me Not Mountain. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander


Nestled between the state’s two highest peaks – Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet) and Wheeler Peak (13,161 feet), the town of Eagle Nest, formerly called Therma, sits at the junction of US Hwy 64 and State Hwy 38. High above sea level, at 8,300 feet, the village rests on the western slope of Baldy and Touch Me Not Mountain (pictured above), an area rich in Gold Rush history.  The community was started back in the late 1800s. 


Eagle Nest Dam 1922Eagle Nest Dam 1922


In 1873 Charles and Frank Springer founded the CS Ranch on the banks of the Cimarron River, and in 1907 they applied for a permit to build the Eagle Nest Dam. The dam was completed in 1918 to store the surplus waters of the Cimarron River for power plants, mining, and irrigation. Most of the labor for building the dam was provided by the Taos Pueblo Indians. 

The largest privately constructed dam in the United States, the concrete structure is 400 feet wide, stands 140 feet above the river bed, and is 9.5 feet thick at its crest and 45.2 feet thick at its base. Supposedly, eagles built nests on the sides of the new dam, and that’s how it got its name.


Eagle Nest Lake, NMEagle Nest Lake, NMEagle Nest Lake, 2004.


The 2,200 acre Eagle Nest Lake offers excellent fishing. In the winter, anglers wander out onto its frozen surface, drill a hole and try their hand at landing kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. Ice fishing usually begins in January, and open water fishing usually starts in April.


Eagle Nest, NM - Main Street - 2Eagle Nest, NM - Main Street - 2Eagle Nest, New Mexico


Along with the fishermen, entrepreneurs also arrived, building businesses and transforming the quiet farming community into a tourist mecca, providing entertainment to the visiting cowboys, fishermen, and other tourists.  Eagle Nest became a popular spot along the road from Santa Fe to Raton, where politicians and other travelers attended the horse races. 


Eagle Nest, NM - Lodge Casa LomaEagle Nest, NM - Eagle Nest Lodge Casa LomaEagle Nest Lodge's Casa Loma


In 1927, Walter Gant, an oilman from Oklahoma, hired a businessman by the name of William B. Tyer to oversee the construction of the grandest resort that Eagle Nest had ever seen — the Eagle Nest Lodge.

Eagle Nest, NM - Lodge Front - 2Eagle Nest, NM - Lodge Front - 2Front of the abandoned Eagle Nest Lodge. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander


Considered the finest lodge for miles, it soon expanded to include a guest annex that featured five studio units with their own bathrooms and kitchenettes. This lodge has an interesting history and we've followed its story since the early 2000s. 

Read our extensive article on the Eagle Nest Lodge HERE. 


Eagle Nest, NM - Main Street - 3Eagle Nest, NM - Main Street - 3Hales and Barrow is located in the former Doughbelly’s Cafe.


In the 1920s, illegal gambling was introduced to the area. The El Monte Hotel (now the Laguna Vista), as well as Doughbelly’s Cafe (formerly the building pictured above), and The Gold Pan were said to have offered roulette and gaming tables, as well as slot machines. Slot machines were also found in many of the stores.


Eagle Nest, NM - Laguna Vista - 2Eagle Nest, NM - Laguna Vista - 2The Laguna Vista Hotel has a Saloon.


Eagle Nest was in its heyday during the 1930s, with disputes often resulting in shots fired back and forth across Main Street. Reportedly one saloon owner was known to provide free wine to those who came through its doors, which would inevitably lead to fights and discord among the rowdy customers. The saloon “advertised” the rowdies as free entertainment. 


Eagle Nest, NM - Street SceneEagle Nest, NM - Street SceneEl Monte Hotel is now the Laguna Vista Resort.


The El Monte, established in 1898, was allegedly built with stolen railroad ties, which are still visible in some of the rooms. Now called the Laguna Vista Resort, it still operates a saloon, restaurant, and hotel with great views of the lake.  



It's also allegedly haunted.  Customers and staff have reported that a woman in dance-hall dress often appears, then vanishes toward the site of the hidden staircase. In talking with a former employee of the Laguna Vista, Kristi Dukes, who was a cook in the restaurant in 1999, she stated that she encountered several spooky visits from a spirit that is said to have once been a saloon girl in the old lodge. On one such occasion, a marble rolling pin was thrown at Kristi, on other occasions pots and pans would fall off of the walls.

You can read more about the Ghosts of the Guney HERE.

Read more about Eagle Nest HERE




Elizabethtown, NM - Main Street, 1943Elizabethtown, NM - Main Street, 1943Main Street in Elizabethtown New Mexico, by John Collier, 1943.
About 5 miles outside of Eagle Nest on your way to Red River, Elizabethtown was once a bustling mining camp that was New Mexico’s first incorporated town. See the store and hotel in this photo from 1943.  Below are the same store and what remains of the hotel in 2021. 


Elizabethtown - Store and HotelElizabethtown - Store and HotelThe old store and remains of the hotel, 2021. Photo by Dave Alexander.


Rich in history and once full of life with over 7,000 residents, it is hard to imagine Elizabethtown as it once was. Now, the sparse remains of the once-bustling boom camp look silently upon the Moreno Valley and the face of the imposing Baldy Mountain.


Elizabethtown - View from CemeteryElizabethtown - View from CemeteryView of E-Town from the cemetery.


In June 1867, Captain William Moore and his brother, John Moore, opened a general store southwest of the peak of Baldy Mountain to supply the many miners who were streaming into the territory. Before the month was out it was clear that the general store would become the center of a town, and Moore began construction on the first house in the rapidly growing settlement. The very next year, Moore and other businessmen platted a townsite, incorporated the village (the first in New Mexico), and began selling lots at prices ranging between $800 and $1200.


Elizabethtown, NM - Moore HouseElizabethtown, NM - Moore HouseThe old Moore House across from Elizabethtown. This was the last home of Elizabeth Moore Lowrey, for whom Elizabethtown was named. Photo by Reletta Clumsky, 2008.


The town was named after the captain’s daughter, Elizabeth Catherine Moore, who had just turned four years of age but it was quickly nicknamed E-Town by most of the locals. Elizabeth Moore was the first school teacher and lived her entire life in Elizabethtown.



For about five years E-Town reigned as one of New Mexico’s most important towns, but mining operations began to diminish dramatically. The fever cooled as mining costs started to out-weigh the volume of ore produced. The settlement was reduced to about 100 residents and lost its “county seat” status to Cimarron in 1872. By 1875 it was a ghost town, but it was given a second chance in 1878 when a railroad extended its track from Trinidad into New Mexico. The town would do well again, but only until about 1917 when the mines played out. 


Elizabethtown - Museum BuildingsElizabethtown - Museum BuildingsBuildings that once were a part of the now-closed Elizabethtown museum.


In the not too distant past, E-Town sported a museum to help tell the history of this old mining town. But in recent years it has shut down and several buildings moved down by the old store and hotel ruins. Where the museum once stood is now a private residence. 


Elizabethtown, NM - Pool Hall, 1943Elizabethtown, NM - Pool Hall, 1943Pool Hall in Elizabethtown<, by John Collier, 1943.

E-town has a few stories still to tell, including one of serial killer Charles Kennedy, and how Gunslinger Clay Allison took his head to display in front of a saloon.

Read about Charles Kennedy here.  

Read about New Mexico Bad Boy Clay Allison here

And don't miss our full story on the history of Elizabethtown - Gone but not forgotten


Angel Fire


Angel Fire, NM - Ski LiftAngel Fire, NM - Ski LiftA Ski Lift in Angle Fire, NM


Angel Fire, on the way to Taos from Eagle Nest, is the newest community in the Moreno Valley.  It was only a concept until the 1960s when landowners began to envision a “resort” area, complete with fishing, hunting, skiing, and more.

Angel Fire, NM - Golf Course FairwayAngel Fire, NM - Golf Course FairwayPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


In 1954, Roy and George LeBus of Wichita Falls, Texas, bought the 9,000 acre Monte Verde Ranch and in 1956 purchased another 14,000 acres, comprising the Cieneguilla Ranch, from the Maxwell Land Grant Company. 


Angel Fire, NM - CondoAngel Fire, NM - CondoPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


Ten years after the initial purchase, they decided to develop the property into a resort community. They called the new development “Angel Fire,” the phrase that Kit Carson had long ago coined after the old Indian lore. 


Angel Fire, NM - Golf Course Putting GreenAngel Fire, NM - Golf Course Putting GreenPhoto by Kathy Alexander.


In 1966, construction began in earnest, and after about 18 months, the early ski trails were cut, a nine-hole golf course was complete, and Monte Verde Lake was ready for visitors.


Angel Fire, NM - ClubhouseAngel Fire, NM - ClubhousePhoto by Kathy Alexander.


In 1972 the resort was sold to the Baca Grande Angel Fire Corporation. By 1973, Angel Fire was visited by more than 20,000 skiers. In the same year, the Country Club and Starfire Lodge were added.


Angel Fire, NM - Elk LodgeAngel Fire, NM - Elk LodgePhoto by Kathy Alexander.


Over the next several decades, the resort was sold numerous times, struggling through the recession of the 1980s, becoming involved in endless legal battles, and finally winding up in bankruptcy. In 1996, most disputes were finally settled, and the resort was purchased by a limited partnership group.


Angel Fire, NM - DeerAngel Fire, NM - DeerDeer in Angle Fire


Today, Angel Fire provides winter visitors with downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing through alpine meadows, snowmobiling, ice fishing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and more. For summer mountain enthusiasts, the resort offers fishing and small boat rentals at Monte Verde Lake, hiking, biking, golf, tennis, horseback riding, and beautiful mountain views along with the cool mountain air.

Read more about The Birth of Angle Fire here. 


Idlewild & the Klondyke Mine


Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine QuarryEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine Quarrydlewild Klondyke Mine Quarry


Though the gold rush had petered out in the Moreno Valley in New Mexico by the early 1900s, some were still convinced that “there was gold in them thar hills.” Fred Montague of Chanute, Kansas was one that still believed. He, along with four other investors, purchased property on the edge of Eagle Nest and dug three tunnels in 1920, two of which showed little promise, but one would become the Klondyke Mine.


Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke MineEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine - 2Klondyke Mine and Mill around 2004.


Unfortunately, only after the mill was built did the investors find, in 1926, that the grade of ore found needed to be smelted, and the nearest facility was in Pueblo, Colorado. Trucking the ore to Pueblo was too expensive to justify continuing the endeavor.


Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine EquipmentEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine EquipmentInside the old Mill in 2004


In the 1940s the mine was abandoned as a business venture. 


Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild CabinEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild CabinCabin in Idlewild


Idlewild developed adjacent to the Klondyke Mine in the 1930s.  Thomas Cook, from Texas, purchased 160 acres adjacent to the mine so that his family might enjoy the retreat that he called “Idlewild.” 


Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild ChurchEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild ChurchWe were married in a private gathering in this outdoor church in June of 2006.


Deciding to develop the property, he began selling lots in 1931 for $6 and 12 people bought lots in the new development.


Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild OuthousesEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild OuthousesSome of the many outhouses found throughout Idlewild.


The following year 87 people purchased property and the area continued to develop through the years.


Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild  Klondike Mine RemainsEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine RemainsRemains of the Klondyke as of August 2021.


The Klondyke Mill was torn down on January 17, 2011, over liability concerns, but there are still some remnants of the mining operation. 



Idlewild, New Mexico is where Legends of America founder and editor, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, gained her interest in American History. Kathy spent summers here as a child in her Grandparents Ben and Irene Foster’s cabin. It was Irene and the rich history of the Moreno Valley that sparked the passion which became a website called High Country Legends in 2002, then transformed into Legends of America on June 27, 2003.

Read more about Idlewild and the Klondyke Mine here

While you're in this area, take time to do The Enchanted Circle, a great summer Day Trip from Eagle Nest. 

The entire Moreno Valley was once part of the Largest Land Grant in U.S. History. Read about the Maxwell Land Grant HERE.


Next in our Travel Blog, we cover more history in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains,  including some Santa Fe Trail which is celebrating it's 200th Anniversary. 


For RV'ers/Travelers

We stayed over a week in Golden Eagle RV Resort and Grill, on the edge of Eagle Nest and just down the mountain from Idlewild. This was a great stay. The onsite restaurant is incredibly good, they have all the facilities you would expect, and the travelers in the park were very friendly. Highly recommend checking them out, and we will of course be back. 

For more information see their website here



One Lucky Dog

JoeySquirrelJoeySquirrelOur newest member to the Legends' Team, Joey Squirrel Alexander.

We came to the Foster cabin this month to do some clean-up and work.  On Saturday, August 7th, our newest team member Joey walked out of the cabin unnoticed and quickly disappeared.  I spent the rest of the day searching up and down the roads through Idlewild, talking to anyone and everyone I could.  Kathy posted a notice on the communities Facebook page. By Sunday, there were many residents out and about in their golf carts, etc, all in search of our Joey Squirrel. By Monday, I had mostly given up the search, but kept my eye out and obsessed over the possibilities of what happened.  When you think about all the prey on a mountainside, and how this little 7 pound Maltese would be a tasty morsel, well, you can imagine the nightmares and angst Kathy and I were going through.  On Tuesday, Kathy and I were resigned to the fact we had lost forever our newest fur baby.  Joey, being a rescue from a commercial breeder, had never been in the mountains, and has no fear of anything it seems.  I thought for sure she had walked up to a bear or something. 


Joey FoundJoey FoundIdlewild Caretaker Joe Romero holding our Joey after she had wandered the mountains for 6 days.

It was a long week. We had planned to leave on Thursday, but extended our stay another couple of nights, holding out hope for a miracle, but knowing deep down she was gone. The community of Idlewild never gave up though, and we heard that there were people looking for Joey every day.  

That Thursday afternoon, August 12, after a full 6 days missing, we got the call that our Joey had been found. Idlewild Caretaker Joe Romero greeted me with Joey in hand, smiling probably at the look on my face as I pulled up to the caretaker's cabin. 

Kathy thinks I'm being a little silly, and that no one is interested in the strange coincidences that make up the Miracle of finding Joey.  But I can't help but share this with y'all. 

- She was found a mile away from Idlewild on Taos Pueblo Tribal land after six days missing. 

Our dog Riley died on the Paiute Reservation in Arizona back in March on the 17th, St. Patrick's Day. 

- Thursday was our Grand Daughter Graci's 17th Birthday. It was also my late father's birthday. 

- Joey was ultimately located by a guy named Joe. 

- Another Idlewild resident, someone we’ve never met, had told Joe (the caretaker) that if Joey happened to be found to contact her, as she lives in Clinton, just 30 miles from our home in Warsaw, MO. Her calling to tell me that they had found our Joey Squirrel was an absolutely mind-blowing experience. 

A special thank you from Kathy and me to all the Idlewild residents who never gave up hope on finding our furry kid. 

Yes, Native Magic and prayers create miracles. 

Joey the day after being FoundJoey the day after being FoundJoey says "Let me get this straight, I spend 6 days wandering the forest and now I have to wander this graveyard?" Now Let's Go Adventure!

Dave Alexander

(Legends of America Photo Prints) Angle Fire Eagle Nest Elizabethtown history Idlewild information Klondyke Mine New Mexico photos prints travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/8/beauty-history-of-new-mexicos-moreno-valley Mon, 16 Aug 2021 15:22:04 GMT
Fort Hays Kansas - Protecting more than just the railroad https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/6/fort-hays-kansas Fort Hays Historic Site - Buffalo StatueFort Hays Historic Site - Buffalo StatueFort Hays Historic Site


This military fort was first established as Fort Fletcher in October of 1865.  Built to protect military roads, defend construction gangs on the Union Pacific Railroad, and guard the U.S. mail. It was also tasked with protecting the stage and freight wagons of the Butterfield Overland Despatch, the soldiers defended travelers from Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian attacks.


Fort Hays Historic SiteFort Hays Historic SiteWelcome to Fort Hays Historic Site


A year later, in November 1866, the fort's name changed to Fort Hays, in honor of Union Brigadier General Alexander Hays who had been killed in the Civil War. 

They soon learned that building along Big Creek was not the best of plans, as the spring flood of 1867 not only took out the fort but killed several Buffalo Soldiers in the process. 


Fort Hays Historic Site -Soldiers BarracksFort Hays Historic Site -Soldiers BarracksFort Hays Historic Site -Soldiers Barracks


The new site selected, about less than a mile from where Hays City would be established, had a number of substantial buildings on 7500 acres and housed nearly 600 troops. It was here that General Philip Sheridan headquartered and planned the controversial Black Kettle raid in 1868


Fort Hays Historic SiteFort Hays Historic SiteFort Hays Historic Site


It was also the home of several well-known Indian War regiments such as the Seventh U.S. Cavalry, the Fifth U.S. Infantry, and the Tenth U.S. Cavalry, whose black troopers were better known as buffalo soldiers.


Hays, KS - Overland Stage, 1867Hays, KS - Overland Stage, 1867Overland stagecoach in Hays, Kansas guarded by five Buffalo Soldiers. Photo by Alexander Gardener, 1867.


Some famous and infamous figures are associated with the fort, including Buffalo Bill Cody, who founded the failed settlement of Rome nearby. Others include Wild Bill Hickok, General Nelson Miles, and Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer


Rome MonumentRome MonumentBuffalo Bill Cody established Rome in 1867 and it quickly grew to about 2,000. In a short time though it was abandoned as people moved across Big Creek to the newly established Hays City.


After twenty-five years of service, Fort Hays was abandoned on November 8, 1889, after the Indian Wars had ended. The military reservation was transferred to the Interior Department on November 6, 1889, and to the state, by a Congressional act on March 28, 1900.


Fort Hays Historic Site -Officers QuartersFort Hays Historic Site -Officers QuartersFort Hays Historic Site


Several buildings have been restored, though most of the original Fort was dismantled by 1900.


Fort Hays Historic Site - TradersStoreFort Hays Historic Site - TradersStoreFort Hays Historic Site - TradersStore


Displays through the historic site illustrate pioneer and military history. The museum was opened in 1967 and is administered by the Kansas State Historical Society. Part of the site is now the campus of Fort Hays State University.


Hays Ks - From Ft. Hays Historic SiteHays Ks - From Ft. Hays Historic SiteLooking toward Fort Hays University and downtown Hays from Fort Hays Historic Site. Photo by Dave Alexander.


Hays City, which grew near the Fort, is a bustling metropolis today, having beat out Buffalo Bill Cody's attempt at creating the settlement of Rome.  You can read about that in our story about the city of Hays here


Hays, Ks - City MuralHays, Ks - City MuralMural in downtown Hays, Kansas.


Read more about Fort Hays HERE

Related Stories:

Buffalo Soldiers

Buffalo Bill Cody

For RV'ers


Ellis Lakeside CampgroundEllis Lakeside CampgroundThe city of Ellis Lakeside Campground, with Big Creek in the background.


During our visit to Hays and Fort Hays Historic Site, we camped at the city of Ellis Lakeside Campground.  Situated along Big Creek, this campground was a great deal for the price.  $20 per night with full hookups and pull-throughs, lots of trees, and fishing just steps away from the campsite. During the off-season, it is only $15 per night (no water available during the winter off-season). Would recommend this as a great place to stop while traveling North Central Kansas. Located in Ellis, just south of I-70, west of Hays.  Learn more at their website here.


(Legends of America Photo Prints) Fort Hays historic history information photos site travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/6/fort-hays-kansas Mon, 21 Jun 2021 20:46:39 GMT
Do you know the way to Santa Fe? https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/4/do-you-know-way-to-santa-fe This blog covers our 588-mile journey from the Paiute Reservation in Northern Arizona all the way to our final "primary" destination, Santa Fe, New Mexico. 


Vermillion Cliffs AZVermillion Cliffs AZComing out of the Kaibab National Forest on Highway 89A to the Vermillion Cliffs in Arizona.


Our final leg of our Winter 21 journey took us out of Pipe Spring National Historic Site to Hwy 89A at Fredonia, AZ for some views through the Kaibab National Forest. Pretty.  Lots of trees and windy roads with scenic pullouts. It was what was on the other side of the National Forest that caught most of our attention. 


Vermillion CliffsVermillion CliffsVermillion Cliffs


The Vermilion Cliffs National Monument preserves a remote and unspoiled 280,000-acre area of diverse landscapes.  While we had no plans on doing any 5-day hikes, we did enjoy taking this scenic highway all the way to Marble Canyon.  See more about Vermilion Cliffs via the BLM website here


On the road into Lee's FerryLee's Ferry Area"Balanced Rock" On the road into Lee's Ferry is a favorite of many for "selfies". Photo by Kathy Wieser-Alexander.


Speaking of Marble Canyon.  Here are some of our views after turning off the highway to visit Lees Ferry. 

Lees Ferry AreaLees Ferry AreaCathedral Wash Trailhead On the road into Lee's Ferry.

Colorado River at Lee's FerryColorado River at Lee's FerryColorado River at Lee's Ferry


Lees Ferry, located on the Colorado River in Coconino County, Arizona, is a historic site located within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It is named for Mormon Leader John D. Lee, who set up ferry service for Mormon settlers heading south to Arizona.

Glen Canyon, AZ - Lee's Ferry, 1913Glen Canyon, AZ - Lee's Ferry, 1913Lee's Ferry across the Colorado River, Glen Canyon, Arizona, 1913. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


The Mormon Church provided the lumber and manpower to build the first real ferryboat at Lees Ferry, the Colorado, first launched on January 11, 1873. It was the first of many boats that would ply the treacherous and fluctuating river at this point.


Glen Canyon, AZ - Lees Ferry BuildingGlen Canyon, AZ - Lees Ferry BuildingPhoto by the National Park Service.


The Lees Ferry Junction and Park Entrance are in Marble Canyon, just west of Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center. A paved road leads five miles to the Ferry area, where available services include a National Park Service campground, dump station, and public launch ramp. 

Learn more about the history of this Glen Canyon historic attraction in our article here.

See our Northwest Arizona and Southern Utah photo galleries. 



Also See: 

Mormons in the American West

John Doyle Lee – Leader of the Mountain Meadows Massacre


Navajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen Canyon


Just a few feet from the turn-off to Lees Ferry is the Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center. 


Navajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo BridgeNavajo Bridge, Glen Canyon


The original bridge (on the left in the picture above) was built in 1928, and when it opened on January 12, 1929, it was the only bridge across the Colorado River for some 600 miles, making it a vital link in the first direct highway route between Arizona and Utah.

Navajo Bridge, AZ - Spanning Colorado RiverGlen Canyon, AZ - Navajo BridgeNavajo Bridge spanning the Colorado River in Coconino County Arizona by Brian Grogan, 1993.


The historic bridge was constructed as two cantilevered arch halves, each extending 308 feet over the gorge. The flagstaff side of the arch was erected first, taking two months to complete. The Fredonia side was finished two and a half months later, with the arch being closed on September 12, 1928. At the time of its construction, it was the highest steel arch bridge in the world, at 467 feet above the river.  It was only 18 feet wide. The total cost of construction was $390 Thousand. 


Navajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen CanyonNavajo Bridge, Glen Canyon


However, the bridge was never intended to carry the larger, heavier traffic of today. So in the early 1990s, the Arizona Department of Transportation decided to build a second bridge (pictured above) for modern transportation needs "that was sensitive to the environment and compatible with the historic bridge." Construction techniques used on the original in 1928 were also used for the new bridge, which was completed on October 14, 1994. This time, the roadway's width would be 44 feet, and total construction cost would be almost $15 million. Bridge Engineer Jerry A. Cannon is quoted as saying "The major challenges for the second bridge were environmental concerns and coordination with government agencies that didn't exist when the first bridge was built."


A Dam Many Don't Want


Glen Canyon, AZ - DamGlen Canyon, AZ - DamThe Glen Canyon Dam just outside of Page, Az creates Lake Powell. Photo by Dave Alexander, 2021.


Arizona Highway 89A meets up with 89 at Bitter Springs, where we headed back north to Page, AZ, which is home to Glen Canyon Dam. Constructed from 1956 to 1966, the dam forms Lake Powell, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the U.S. It's named for Glen Canyon, which is mostly filled with its capacity of 27 million acre-feet of Colorado River water. 


Glen Canyon Dam - Lake PowellGlen Canyon, AZ - Lake PowellLake Powell on the other side of Glen Canyon Dam. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2021.


Lake Powell, named for explorer John Wesley Powell, was created to help serve the rapid population growth in the Colorado River Basin. However, the creation of the Dam and Lake Powell have been questioned by some who criticize the large evaporation losses and their impact on the ecology of the Grand Canyon, which lies downstream. The lake became a catalyst for the modern environmental movement, with groups continuing to advocate for the removal of Glen Canyon Dam to this day. Water managers and utilities argue the fact that the dam is a major source of renewable energy and vital defense against severe drought in the Lower Colorado Basin. Glen Canyon Dam was one of the last of its size to be built in the U.S. 


Glen Canyon Dam - Lake PowellGlen Canyon, AZ - Lake Powell BoatsLake Powell on the other side of Glen Canyon Dam just outside of Page, AZ. Photo by Kathy Alexander.


Speaking of drought, we found Lake Powell to be very similar to the current climate at Lake Mead, with levels way down at the moment. However, the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, including Lake Powell, continues to draw millions of tourists each year. It encompasses over 1.25 million acres that include Lees Ferry, Horseshoe Bend, Rainbow Bridge, and much more. See the National Park Service's website here for more information


A Spectacular Drive


Monument Valley AreaOwl RockOwl Rock in the Monument Valley area.


Although we were just passing through along Hwy 163,  Monument Valley provided some incredible views of a spectacular landscape. 


Monument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UT


Monument Valley, spanning the border of Utah and Arizona, is a Navajo Nation Tribal Park. While the park was closed due to the pandemic, we still had plenty of sights to see along the highway. Some of the most photographed and majestic points on earth can be found here, with sandstone towers up to 1,000 feet tall. 

Monument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UTMonument Valley, AZ/UT


It's a rugged beauty that we hope is on your bucket list. See this 2005 article from Melody Moser for a feeling of waking up to this incredible beauty

Also, See our Article "The Navajo Nation."

For more information and the current visitor status of Monument Valley Tribal Park, see their website here



Bluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UT


Continuing on Hwy 163, then US 191, we came to Bluff, UT, home of the recreated Bluff Fort. 


Bluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UT
This was a pleasant stop, one great for the family or those interested in Pioneer life for Mormons who established the original Fort back in 1881. 


Bluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UTBluff Fort, Bluff UT


The Fort didn't last long and was abandoned in 1883, however, Bluff Fort Historic Site preserves the history of an interesting time along the Hole-in-the-Rock Trail, an arduous journey for pioneers that extended 260 miles. See Bluff Utah's website for more information and include this as a stop if you are journeying to or from Monument Valley. 


Welcome to New Mexico (via Utah, Arizona, & Colorado all at once)


Aztec Ruins National Monument, NMAztec Ruins National Monument, NMAztec Ruins National Monument, NM


Traveling out of Bluff on UT Hwy 162, crossing into Colorado on Hwy 41, then down Highway 160 back into Arizona, and Highway 64 into New Mexico, you pass right by Four Corners Monument, another Navajo Nation Monument.  We wanted to go stand in all 4 states at the same time, but again, the Navajo sites are closed to the public due to the pandemic.  For information about the one place in the US where you can stand in four states at once, see the Navajo Nation Parks website here

That's alright though, as we pushed on past Farmington, taking NM Hwy 516 to Aztec, the site of the Aztec Ruins National Monument. 

Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM - 4Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM - 4Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico by Dave Alexander.


Don't be misled by the name, the Aztecs didn't live here, instead, it was the Anasazi (Puebloans) who constructed the large planned community over 1,000 years ago. The ruins were named when 19th-century American settlers misattributed their construction to the Aztecs of Mexico. This extensive community likely served as a trade, ceremonial, and administrative center for many of the scattered communities associated with Chaco Canyon


Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM - Great Kiva InteriorAztec Ruins National Monument, NM - Great Kiva InteriorAztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


Part of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park World Heritage Site, the Aztec Ruins National Monument is the largest ancestral Pueblo in the Animas River Valley. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in October 1966.

Learn more in our Article "Aztec Ruins National Monument."


Also See: 

Chaco Canyon - Home of Ancestral Puebloans

Ancient Puebloans of the Southwest

Ancient Cities and Places of the Native Americans



Do you know the way to Santa Fe?


Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteSanta Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteA view of Santa Fe from the site of Fort Marcy. Photo by Dave Alexander, 2021.


I know, I know... the song is about a California town with another name, but I've planted the earworm for ya. I shouldn't be the only one with Dionne Warwick stuck in my head. 

While we have been to Santa Fe before, we've never 'stayed' in Santa Fe, so on this journey, we wanted to have a more leisurely experience in exploring "The City Different". 

Santa Fe, NM - Oldest House - 2Santa Fe, NM - Oldest House - 2This 800-year old Adobe house in Santa Fe, New Mexico is considered to be the oldest house in the United States. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


Established in 1610, Santa Fe, New Mexico is the third oldest city founded by European colonists in the United States. Only St. Augustine, Florida, founded in 1565, and Jamestown, Virginia are older. It is also the oldest capital city in the U.S, serving under five different governments; Spain, Tewa Puebloans, Mexico,  Confederate States of America, and the United States.


Santa Fe, NM - PlazaSanta Fe, NM - PlazaThe Santa Fe, New Mexico Palace on the Plaza by Henry Brown, 1885 Santa Fe, NM - Palace of GovernorsSanta Fe, NM - Palace of GovernorsSanta Fe, NM - Palace of Governors
Built upon the ruins of an abandoned Tanoan Indian village, Santa Fe was the capital of the “Kingdom of New Mexico,” which was claimed for Spain by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540. Its first governor, Don Pedro de Peralta, gave the city its full name, “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís,” or “The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi”.

The Palace of the Governors (in the two photos above) was built between 1610 and 1612 and is the country's oldest government building.


Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Chapel 1873Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Chapel 1873The San Miguel Mission, also known as San Miguel Chapel, is a Spanish colonial mission church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Built between about 1610 and 1626, it is claimed to be the oldest church in the United States. Vintage photo taken in 1888. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Mission, 1888Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel Mission, 1888The San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, New Mexico was damaged during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 but was rebuilt in 1710 following the Spanish reconquest and served for a time as a chapel for the Spanish soldiers. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Santa Fe, NM - San Miguel ChurchSanta Fe, NM - San Miguel ChurchSanta Fe, NM - San Miguel Church


San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe (in the three photos above) is the oldest church in the continental United States, constructed around 1610. 


Santa Fe, NM - Downtown Santa Fe TrailSanta Fe, NM - Downtown Santa Fe TrailAlong the Old Santa Fe Trail in Downtown Santa Fe. Photo by Dave Alexander.


Santa Fe remained Spain’s provincial seat until 1821 when Mexico won its independence from Spain and Santa Fe became the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México. At this time, the Spanish policy of closed empire ended, and American trappers and traders moved into the region. William Becknell soon opened the l,000-mile-long Santa Fe Trail, leaving from FranklinMissouri, with 21 men and a pack train of goods. Before long, Santa Fe would become the primary destination of hundreds of travelers seeking to trade with the city or move further west.

Begin your journey on the Santa Fe Trail, which is celebrating its 200th Anniversary, by visiting our extensive section of articles starting HERE

Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy, 1868Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy, 1868Fort Marcy in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1868. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteSanta Fe, NM - Fort Marcy SiteFort Marcy Site today (2021)


On August 18, 1846, during the early period of the Mexican-American War, an American army general, Stephen Watts Kearny, took Santa Fe and raised the American flag over the Plaza. There, he built Fort Marcy to prevent an uprising by Santa Fe citizens, though it was never needed. Although the Fort is gone today, the site is Fort Marcy Ruins at Historic Fort Marcy Park, which is part of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail, the “Royal Road of the Interior." It was the earliest Euro-American trade route in the United States.

Santa Fe, NM - Fort Marcy - Cross of the MartyrsSanta Fe, NM - Fort Marcy - Cross of the MartyrsThe Cross of the Martyrs, next too Fort Marcy Ruins, is a memorial to 21 Franciscan priests and friars killed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2021.

Also here, you will find the Cross of the Martyrs, a memorial to 21 Franciscan priests and friars killed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. On August 10, 1680, an attack by the Taos, Picuri, and Tewa Indians in their respective pueblos, killed 21 of the province’s 40 Franciscans, and another 380 Spaniards, including men, women, and children. The Spaniards who were able to escape fled to Santa Fe and to the Isleta Pueblo, one of the few pueblos that did not participate in the rebellion.

Learn More, see our Related Articles:

Fort Marcy

Mexican-American War

Pueblo Revolt – Rising Up Against the Spaniards


Did you know America's Mother Road used to go through Santa Fe? 


Santa Fe, NM - LaFonda HotelSanta Fe, NM - LaFonda HotelThe La Fonda Hotel in downtown Santa Fe sits on a pre-1937 alignment of Route 66.


From 1926 when it was created, to 1937, Route 66 entered the state capital along College Street (now Old Santa Fe Trail), then turned west on Water Street at the rear of the La Fonda Hotel. It exited downtown Santa Fe along Galisteo Street and turned south upon connecting with Cerrillos Street. The primary significance of the pre-1937 alignment of Route 66 in New Mexico lies in how it reflects the early federal highway system’s use of already existing patterns of movement across the land. Historically, New Mexico’s primary orientation had been north and south with patterns determined by routes that followed the Rio Grande and Pecos Valleys, and that relied upon infrequent mountain passes for latitudinal movement. 


Santa Fe, NM - El Rey Inn SunsetSanta Fe, NM - El Rey Inn SunsetAt sunset the historic El Rey Inn on the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66 in Santa Fe, New Mexico is bathed in an inviting golden glow that soothes the soul. Photo by Jim Hinckley.


Due to political maneuverings of the New Mexico Governor in 1937, Route 66 was rerouted, bypassing Santa Fe and the Pecos River Valley. Having lost his re-election, Governor Hannett blamed the Santa Fe politicians for losing, and vowing to get even, he rerouted the highway in his last few months as governor.  So hastily was the road built, that it barreled through both public and private lands without the benefit of official right-of-ways.


Santa Fe, NM - StreetSanta Fe, NM - StreetPre-1937 Route 66 through downtown Santa Fe.


By the time the new governor was in place, a new highway connected Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque, bypassing the capital city and its many businesses. The new route was more direct and reduced some of the more treacherous road conditions.


Much more in and Around Santa Fe


Chimayo, NM - El Santuario ShrineChimayo, NM - El Santuario ShrineChimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine


While I've shown only a few things here about Santa Fe, there is much much more beyond Downtown.  In fact, day trips from Santa Fe will take you to many historic sites and places. One of those is the El Santuario de Chimayó, in Chimayo north of Santa Fe. 


Chimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church InteriorChimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church InteriorEl Santuario Shrine Church Interior
A National Historic Landmark, the church was built in 1816, replacing a small chapel that had been there since 1810.  The site is noted for its history as a contemporary pilgrimage site and sees around 300,000 visitors a year.  It has been called by some "the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the U.S.


Chimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church Interior - 3Chimayo, NM - El Santuario Shrine Church Interior - 3El Santuario Shrine


In 1929, members of the newly formed Spanish Colonial Arts Society bought the property and donated it to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.


Chimayo, NM - Gallery-CafeChimayo, NM - Gallery-CafeShops around the El Santuario de Chimayó


The Church lies in the Potrero plaza of Chimayó, which offers visitors shopping and dining.  Well worth our visit as there is a lot more here to see and learn, including legends of healing powers related to the shrine.  

There are also several Native American Pueblo's around Santa Fe that during 'normal times' would be worth your visit, although most of them were closed off during the pandemic. We would have loved to spend even more time in Santa Fe, in fact, I would suggest spending at least 5 days in the State Capital to explore everything the area has to offer.  I think the Official Santa Fe Travel Site says it best:

"Santa Fe, New Mexico is a city unlike any other, truly living up to its tagline, The City Different, at every turn. With legendary history and culture around every corner, an art scene that spans from traditional to contemporary, accommodations with a local feel yet world-class status, award-winning cuisine that’s as eclectic as it is sumptuous, and countless experiences to encounter, you’re sure to uncover something different about yourself when you visit."

Learn more about Santa Fe via our numerous related articles: 

Santa Fe, New Mexico – The City Different

The Santa Fe Trade, By Helen Haines, 1891

Mary Donoho – First Lady of the Santa Fe Trail

Doña Gertrudis Barceló – Gambling Queen of Santa Fe

Haunted Santa Fe

Haunted La Fonda Hotel


New Mexico History is Rich!  Start your exploration via our New Mexico Main Page HERE

Explore our New Mexico Photo Print Galleries HERE


Mora County, NM - Sangre de Cristo MountainsMora County, NM - Sangre de Cristo MountainsMora County, NM - Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The Land of Enchantment sent us off with a bit of snow in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as we traveled through Mora and eventually out to Clayton New Mexico on the way home.  Since leaving Warsaw on February 4, we traveled 5,300 miles...each mile an adventure to remember.  If you are just reaching this blog, I suggest starting with Talimena Scenic Views, Day one of our Winter 21 journey.  

We're already planning our next trip for late summer, somewhere in the Eastern U.S. 

Cya on the road!



For RV'ers 

During this segment of our journey, we stayed at the following: 

Page Lake Powell Campground (Page, AZ)

Page RV ParkPage RV ParkNot so level spot at the Page & Lake Powell RV Park. This park is clean, well-kept, and close to many amenities. The staff was very friendly. However, like many other campgrounds, they list one of their amenities as wifi, of which we had NONE, even at 3 am. Worse, was the spot that they put us in was sloped and uneven.  There were plenty of other sites available that were level and closer to the office, where wifi is usually better. The noise on the neighboring highway is very loud, and making things worse, was a motorcycle and an ATV periodically zooming loudly through the campground. If we were to do it again, we would stay at Lake Powell, Lees Ferry, or even another town before we would stay here. Unfortunately, for travelers, this is the only campground in Page.


Moore's RV Park and Campground (Bloomfield, NM)


Really wish I could find the pictures from our visit here.  We only stayed a night, however, this was an "excellent" campground. Level spots, full hookups, a dual dog run (with grass), and very friendly staff. Would stay here again!


Trailer Ranch RV Resort (Santa Fe, NM)


TrailerRanch SantaFeTrailerRanch SantaFe

This is an adult-only RV Park, and 55+ community.  Excellent location within the Santa Fe area.  Off a major road, however, the noise wasn't bad, and it's surrounded by adobe walls. Very friendly staff and good wifi most of the time. Full hookups, laundry, etc.  A little pricy, but would stay here again. 






(Legends of America Photo Prints) Aztec Ruins Bluff Fort Glen Canyon Dam Lake Powell Lees Ferry Monument Valley Navajo Bridge Santa Fe Vermilion Cliffs https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/4/do-you-know-way-to-santa-fe Wed, 07 Apr 2021 18:57:08 GMT
Caliente to Pipe Spring with Iron Town In-between https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/caliente-to-pipe-spring This blog is dedicated to Mr. Riley. See ya on the rainbow bridge, little man. 


Caliente, NV - AreaCaliente, NV - AreaNear Caliente, Nevada.


That's Nevada Highway 93 coming into Caliente.  Caliente, a historic railroad town, is located in east-central Lincoln County at U.S. Route 93 and Nevada Highway 317. The quiet town mountain town, shaded by beautiful cottonwood trees, is the only incorporated community in Lincoln County.


Caliente, NV - Business District early 1900sCaliente, NV - Business District early 1900sEarly 1900s in Caliente, NV


Located in a meadow tucked among rugged canyons and sweeping mountain ranges, the earliest settlers were ranchers and farmers who took advantage of Clover Creek and the area’s natural hot springs.


Caliente, NV - Boxcar MuseumCaliente, NV - Boxcar MuseumBoxcar Museum in Caliente. Photo by Dave Alexander.



Caliente, NV - DepotCaliente, NV - DepotThe old train depot in Caliente now serves as city offices. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


In 1889, there was a need for a north-south railroad line between Los Angeles, California and Salt Lake City, Utah. There were soon two railroad lines competing for the opportunity, including the Union Pacific Railroad and Oregon Short Line, but only one could fit through the canyon, and Union Pacific took control of the project.


Caliente, NV - Hot Springs MotelCaliente, NV - Hot Springs MotelHot Springs Motel was leased out for the year while we were there in Caliente, NV.

Charles Culverwell owned the hot springs, and by 1901 he had opened the Culverwell Hotel that featured hot mineral baths. The business also featured a blacksmith shop and a livery stable. Soon everyone began calling him the “City Mayor.” Though the hotel no longer stands, hot mineral baths can normally be enjoyed at the Caliente Hot Springs Motel and Spa Hotel. However, when we visited in 2021, it was closed to the public and was leased long-term.

Caliente, NV - Front Street Building RowCaliente, NV - Front Street Building Row


In 1901 an official town was founded on land owned by the Culverwell brothers. It was first named “Calientes,” meaning “hot,” for the hot springs in the area. When a post office was established on August 3, 1901, the “s” was dropped from the name, and the community was simply called “Caliente.” That year, the first train arrived in the new town.


Caliente, NV - Smith-Cornelius HotelCaliente, NV - Smith-Cornelius HotelSmith-Cornelius Hotel in Caliente, NV


In about 1918, the historic Smith-Cornelius Hotel was built at the corner of Front and Spring Streets (U.S. Hwy 93.) First called the Smith Hotel, the three-story stucco building was built by Dr. and Mrs. Wesley Smith in a simple vernacular architectural style reflecting the time’s design tastes. The first floor featured three retail spaces, one of which was always a café. One of the oldest surviving buildings in Caliente, it is listed on the National Historic Register today.


Caliente, NV - Underhill Building RowCaliente, NV - Underhill Building RowUnderhill Building Row in Caliente, NV


The Richards Railroad Hotel was built between 1910 to 1915 by Harry Underhill used primarily as living quarters for railroad workers. This historic building, vacant today, still stands in Caliente toward the east end of Clover Street, where several other historic Underhill buildings stand.

Read more about the interesting history of Caliente in our article here

Also in this area, Delamar - The Widowmaker



Pioche, NV - Main StreetPioche, NV - Main StreetHighway 93 (Main Street) through Pioche, NV.


Caliente may be the only incorporated community in Lincoln County, but higher up, Pioche retains the County Seat. Pioche was first settled by Joseph Grange and E. M. Chubard, who erected a small furnace in 1868. However, the project was a failure and they soon abandoned the location.

In the spring of 1868, Francois Pioche, a San Francisco financier, sent Charles E. Hoffman to the area to purchase property and mining claims. A smelter was then built and the Meadow Valley Mining Company was incorporated.


Pioche, NV - FirehousePioche, NV - FirehouseOn the way through Pioche on Hwy 93.


A town sprang up around the claims on the “panacker ledge.” In 1869 P. McCannon, L. Lacour, and A. M. Bush plotted out a townsite, and the town was named Pioche City for Francois Pioche, the San Francisco businessman.

By the early 1870s, Pioche had become the largest and most important silver mining towns in southeastern Nevada with an estimated population of 10,000 people by 1871. That year, the county seat was moved from Hiko to Pioche in February. It remains there today.


Pioche, NV - Godbe's MillPioche, NV - Godbe's MillGodbe's Mill near Pioche, NV


The Pioche Consolidated Mill, also known as the Godbe Mill, was built in 1891 at the site of the original Raymond & Ely No. 1 shaft just to the east of Pioche, at a place called West Point. The smelter processed ore not only for Pioche but also for Jackrabbit and other nearby camps. The same year, the Pioche Consolidated bought the remaining assets of the abandoned Pioche & Bullionville Railroad in the immediate area and in 1891 started construction of the Pioche Pacific Railroad which would serve the Pioche, Jackrabbit, and Bristol mines. The mill burned in 1893 but was quickly rebuilt.


Pioche, NV - Gem TheaterPioche, NV - Gem TheaterGem Theatre in Pioche, Nv


Pioche, NV - Thompson's Opera HousePioche, NV - Thompson's Opera HouseThompson's Opera House in Pioche, NV


In March 1873 the Brown Opera House was built by Aleck Brown. It was constructed of wood in a classic revival style combined with an early pioneer board construction. Almost two decades later, it was renamed the Thompson Opera House in April 1892. Years later it was used as a movie house. However, when the Gem Theater was built right next door, the Opera House was used for weekly dances for many years. Today the Brown/Thompson Opera House continues to stand on Main Street.


Pioche, NV - Mountain View HotelPioche, NV - Mountain View HotelMountain View Hotel in Pioche, NV


In 1895, the Mountain View Hotel was built by the Ely Valley Mines to house their guests. It is a combination of styles including “Shingle” and early 1900s “Classic Box” styles. This old hotel served the lodging needs of dignitaries visiting Pioche on court business. President Herbert Hoover is said to have stayed in 1930.


Pioche, NV - First County CourthousePioche, NV - First County CourthousePioche, NV - First County Courthouse


The courthouse was completed in 1872 at a cost of $88,000, far exceeding the initial estimates and budget. The original loan was then refinanced over and over again with bonds totaling nearly $1 million. The loan wasn’t paid off until 1937, four years after the building had been condemned. The old courthouse still stands as well as the original town jail, with its 16-inch walls and tiny windows. The jail was so secure that not a single inmate ever escaped.

Learn more about the once-thriving, wild west, now near ghost town of Pioche via our article here


Wait, didn't she say "No more unknown roads?"

Do Not Enter gate at Bristol Wells, NVBristol Wells, NV - Do Not EnterIt was a bust trying to see the ghost mining camp of Bristol Wells, NV.


Outside of Pioche, we attempted to find the ghost town of Bristol Wells.  After another dirt and rock journey up a mountain, we were greeted with a closed gate right at the entrance to the remains of the mining camp. 


Bristol Wells, NV - Road up to gateBristol Wells, NV - Road up to gateThe path left behind. Taken from the closed gate at Bristol Wells, NV


This was the view behind us at the gate, with our journey beginning in the valley below off highway 93. You win some/lose some I guess. One thing for sure, my mountain driving skills are honed after this trip. 

Begin your Journey through Nevada via our Nevada main page here


Pushing East -  Arizona via Utah. 

Old Iron Town, UT - RuinsOld Iron Town, UT - RuinsRuins at the Old Iron Town, UT.


We left the Caliente and Pioche area, turning off Hwy 93 at Panaca, and headed toward Utah on NV 319, UT 56 where our next stop was Old Iron Town.  Founded in the late 1860s, it was established to mine iron from Iron Mountain. Iron was needed as an important part of the Mormon economy. 


Old Iron Town, UT - Beehive Charcoal FurnaceOld Iron Town, UT - Beehive Charcoal FurnaceThe Old Iron Town ruins feature a preserved beehive style charcoal oven and a furnace known as an "Arastra", which prepared sands for molds.


A Furnace was built and by 1874 about 400 pounds of Pig Iron was produced. Operations also ceased about that time, with the Panic of 1873 forcing its closure. At its peak, the settlement included a schoolhouse, blacksmith, charcoal furnaces, and a foundry. The city was abandoned in 1876.


Old Iron Town, UT - ViewOld Iron Town, UT - ViewView from Old Iron Town, UT


The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and still features the beehive style charcoal oven and furnace. You'll also find remains of the original foundry. 

For more about Old Iron Town, see our article here. 


If you are into old Iron towns, you might also like this one from our Michigan Adventure.  Fayette, Michigan Historic Town Site. 


Utah, you had me at Hurricane. 

Hurricane, UTHurricane, UTPhoto of Hurricane, UT from an overlook on Hwy 59.


One thing in this country I think everyone can agree on.  The views in Utah are spectacular.  We headed out of Cedar City, down Interstate 15 to Anderson Junction, then off on Highway 17 toward Hurricane, Utah. It appears to be pretty solid development as you go from one town to the next without realizing it.  We turned onto UT Hwy 59 East in Hurricane and stopped for a view of the valley below.  The pic above probably doesn't do justice to the incredible view. Hope you have a chance to experience this drive. 

We've done this area before in 2008, including Zion National Park nearby.  You can read about our adventures via various articles listed on our Utah Main Page. 



Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation and Pipe Spring National Monument

Pipe Springs National Monument, UtahPipe Springs National Monument, UtahPipe Springs National Monument, Utah


Utah Highway 59 turns into Arizona Highway 389, and not too far you will reach the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation and Pipe Spring. The natural spring has been a draw for Native American's for at least a thousand years. 


Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - WagonPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - WagonPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Wagon


In the 1860s, Mormons from St. George brought cattle to the area, establishing a large ranch and setting up a conflict with the local Paiute Native American tribes. In addition, Navajo natives raided Pipe Spring, which led to a stone fort being built over the spring in 1872. 


Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Desert TelegraphPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Desert TelegraphPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Desert Telegraph


The First Telegraph in Arizona was sent from Pipe Spring. In 1873 the fort and ranch were purchased by Mormon leader Brigham Young. The Bishop of nearby Grafton, Utah, Anson Perry Winsor, was hired to operate the ranch and maintain the fort and it was known as Winsor Castle.


Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Telegraph QuartersPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Telegraph QuartersPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Telegraph Quarters


In addition to serving as a refuge for polygamists, the isolated Pipe Spring was a way station for those traveling what is called the "Arizona Strip", or the section of Arizona separated by the Grand Canyon


Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah - LonghornPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - LonghornPipe Springs National Monument, Utah - Longhorn


The Church lost ownership of the property through penalties involved in the federal Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, which made non-publicly recorded marriages a felony. As a federal offense, authorities were authorized to seize personal and church assets and entire families went “underground” to avoid imprisonment. 

The Paiute tribe was greatly affected by the settlement but continued to live in the area when the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation was established in 1907.  Pipe Spring ranch, surrounded by the reservation, was purchased by the government in 1923 and set aside as a National Monument to western pioneer life. 


Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah Pipe Springs National Monument, Utah


During your visit, tour the Museum that gives a good overview of the human history in the area, take a tour of the buildings, see "living history" demonstrations, or hike the half mail trail offering a glimpse of life in the Old West. 

For more information about Pipe Spring, see our article here. 

Read more about the Paiute Tribe in our article here. 

Read about the Mormons in the American West in our articles beginning here. 


Not far from this area:

Grafton - Virgin River Ghost Town

Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim)

Zion National Park


Next Up.. Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell, the Navajo Bridge, and much more as we push to our final 'primary' destination, Santa Fe New Mexico. 

Cya on the road!




For RV'ers

Caliente, NV - Young's RV ParkCaliente, NV - Young's RV ParkSnow found us again in Caliente at Young's RV Park.


During our visit to Caliente and Pioche, we stayed at Young's RV Park in Caliente. Nice, clean RV park with friendly management, wifi, and small clean laundry facility. Would stay again if ever in the area. 


Kaibab Paiute RV Campground Kaibab-Paiute-RV-Campground-Pipe-SpringKaibab Paiute RV Campground with Pipe Spring National Monument visible in the background.

While in the Pipe Spring area, we stayed at Kaibab Paiute RV Campground.  Be forewarned, cell service (at least ATT) was nonexistent here. Good Wifi during off-peak hours, clean, mostly level parking, a little convenience store just up the road, and conveniently located next to Pipe Spring National Monument.  They had a large grass area for our furry kids. 



Speaking of which...

On A Personal Note - We said goodbye to Mr. Riley on the Paiute Reservation

Mr. RileyMr. RileyLegends' Mascot Mr. Riley.


From Kathy: 

Riley Alexander

c.2007-March 17, 2021

Beautiful Riley was a full-blooded Silky Terrier (Yorkie type.) We adopted him in 2012, at which time the vet said he was about four years old. He had been found wandering the streets in Sedalia in the middle of winter, and when picked up was starving, mangy, and very thin. When we got him, he was much better, but was very afraid of males, was skittish, and never barked, or made any other noise for that matter.


Riley and Kaydee on a Mississipi Beach. Riley and Kaydee on a Mississipi Beach. Riley and Kaydee on a Mississipi Beach.


It took our other dog, Kaydee, a little bit of time to warm up to him, but they soon became fast friends.


Mr. Riley Mr. Riley He loved his belly rubs.


Riley ended up loving Dave and very much liked most other men if they were nice to him, barked his fool head off -- especially if any kind of big dog was around, and would "purr" when petted and loved on.


Dave and Riley at Pipe SpringsDave and Riley at Pipe SpringsComforting Mr. Riley in his final days.


He had been suffering from a collapsed trachea for about a year and was given meds to keep him comfortable, but there was little else that could be done. In the past couple of weeks, his body started to shut down and he died at about 4:00 am on St. Patrick's Day, at an RV Park on the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation in Arizona.


Mr. Riley and Miss Kaydee, Legends' furry mascots. Legends' Furry MascotsMr. Riley and Miss Kaydee, Legends' furry mascots in Michigan.

There are no words for “goodbye” in Paiute because they did not want to imply they weren't going to see a friend again when they parted.

So we said, Pe-sha uh, which means Thank you - for bringing so much joy to our lives.

"May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house. May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there. May your mocassins make happy tracks in many snows, and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder." -- Cherokee Blessing

Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arizona Caliente history Hurricane Iron Town mining Nevada Pioche Pipe Spring National Monument railroad Utah views https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/caliente-to-pipe-spring Wed, 24 Mar 2021 21:10:24 GMT
Giant Rabbits and an Off Road Nail Biter in Nevada https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/giant-rabbits-and-an-off-road-nail-biter-in-nevada Welcome to Nevada, Laughlin style. 


Laughlin, NV - Pioneer CowboyLaughlin, NV - Pioneer CowboyWelcome to Laughlin (Pioneer Cowboy)


We spent some time in Bullhead City, AZ before crossing over into Laughlin. The town of Bullhead City is relatively new, established in the mid-1900s, however, it is built on the site that once was a town called Hardy in the mid to late 1800s. 


Laughlin, NV - ViewLaughlin, NV - ViewA view of Laughlin Nevada from the Arizona side.


Many of Bullhead City's residents are employed across the Colorado River in Laughlin, a gambling mecca in Nevada. Laughlin got its start by Vegas Club owner Don Laughlin, who purchased South Point, the name given to the southern tip of Nevada, in 1964. Laughlin opened the Riverside Resort and the small town expanded its gambling operations from there. 


Laughlin, NV - Colorado Belle ClosedLaughlin, NV - Colorado Belle ClosedThe Colorado Belle was a victim of the COVID Pandemic.


However, it looked pretty bleak for the gaming industry during our visit.  We saw more than one of what appeared to be closed casinos, including the Colorado Belle.  Like many others, the Belle was ordered closed by the State during the early part of the 2020 Pandemic, and shortly after announced that they would remain closed for good. 


Laughlin, NV - Riverside CasinoLaughlin, NV - Riverside CasinoDon Laughlin's Riverside Casino.


We did see some active gambling, including Laughlin's original Riverside Hotel & Casino, but not the crowds we would have expected during a normal year. 


Also along our Path:


Eldorado Canyon



The town that built Boulder Dam


Boulder City, AZ - Flying Saucer Store AlienBoulder City, AZ - Flying Saucer Store AlienGreetings Earthling, welcome to Boulder City.


Greetings Earthlings. We aren't big gamblers anymore, so on to more fun history in Nevada.  Our next stop was Boulder City, the town that built Boulder Dam...or, was it the dam that built the town? 


HooverDambronze sculptureHighsmith2018Hoover Dam, NV - Bronze SculptureSteven Liguoria's 1995 bronze sculpture, at Hoover Dam, of Joe Kine, one of the last surviving high scalers who worked on the dam project in the early 1930s. The massive Hoover Dam straddles the border between Arizona and Nevada in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. Photo by Carol Highsmith.
The idea to build a dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River dates back to 1900, however it wasn't approved by Congress until 1928, with construction starting in 1931. The massive structure, about 30 miles from Las Vegas, brought in a huge influx of unemployed workers, which numbered over 5,000 by 1934.  Over 100 of them would die during the dam's construction. 

HooverDamCarolHighsmithHoover Dam, NV - ViewAbove Hoover Dam near Boulder City, Nevada. Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the US states of Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named in honor of President Herbert Hoover. Photo by Carol Highsmith.
The Government ordered the construction companies to build a town to house all the workers, which became Boulder City.  Much to the town's chagrin, politics came into play in 1947 and the dam was renamed Hoover Dam, after President Herbert Hoover. 

Interesting side note; Hoover was in office during the construction, and his Secretary of the Interior had named it Hoover Dam then, but that hadn't been done for a sitting president before, so when Roosevelt took office in 1933 his administration renamed it back to what was originally considered, Boulder Dam. The renaming of the Dam back to Hoover in 1947 is still controversial, depending on your political lens. 


Boulder City, AZ - Souvenir StoreBoulder City, AZ - Souvenir StoreDead Cows for Sale in Boulder City.


Ahh, quirky and fun Boulder City. Dead Cows on sale here at this corner joint toward one end of Nevada Way. We assume that's leather, but who knows. Many enjoy strolling down Nevada Way for a touch of nostalgia and fun shopping. 


Boulder City, NV - House of AntiquesBoulder City, NV - House of AntiquesSherman's House of Antiques, Boulder City Nevada.


We got a kick out of the quirkiness. While you are in this area, be sure to visit the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum, just off Nevada Way on Arizona St in the historic Boulder Dam Hotel. 


Boulder City, NV - Hotel MuseumBoulder City, NV - Hotel MuseumThe Historic Boulder Dam Hotel and Museum


The hotel, built in 1933, preserves the classic style of the era and still offers 21 rooms for accommodations. Today it is listed on the National Register of Historic places, as well as much of downtown Boulder City. 


Walk with me for a moment in Bootleg Canyon. 


Boulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park - Big RabbitBoulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park - Big RabbitWelcome to Bootleg Canyon Park, Boulder City, Nevada.


On the outskirts of Boulder City, you'll find some fun outdoor recreation at Boulder City's Nature Discovery Trail and Rock Garden


Boulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park - Road RunnerBoulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park - Road Runner


The trail is part of Boulder City's Municipal Park in Bootleg Canyon. It's a fun, paved, and educational 1800 feet path with interesting factoids about the creatures exhibited. 


Boulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park -ScorpionBoulder City, NV - Bootleg Canyon Park -ScorpionScorpion in Bootleg Canyon.


Bootleg Canyon is also great for Biking enthusiasts, and we saw many while we were there on provided bike trails. 



Dry Camping at Boulder Beach

Lake Meade, NV - Boulder Beach DogLake Meade, NV - Boulder Beach DogTime for a swim at Boulder Beach

Just outside of Boulder City, and only minutes away from Las Vegas, Boulder Beach stretches for a mile in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Of course, our Miss Kaydee immediately had to test the water. 


Boulder Beach CampBoulder Beach CampDry camping at Boulder Beach


Boulder Beach has an RV Park with hookups, but we opted for the Campground next door. This area has been frequented since Lake Mead was created, and over time the campground was improved.  Just within the past decade or so, level pads were poured, and other improvements made, to attract RV'ers like us. There is potable water available throughout the campground, and if you are lucky enough, you might get a spot within your hose length.  


Lake Mead, NV - Boulder Beach SurfingLake Mead, NV - Boulder Beach Surfing

Take note this is a first come first serve Campground. We got there around 10 am on a weekday and found several open.  

Echo Bay, Lake Meade, NVEcho Bay, Lake Meade, NVOld Hotel and Restaurant now closed at Echo Bay.
Not everything around Lake Mead is fairing well though.  Take Echo Bay for example. This hotel and restaurant were open within the past decade or so, but the water has receded so far, that what was once a popular destination for houseboats is now sitting empty. There's still great fishing and camping here, including RVs.  However, the overall level of Lake Mead dropped dramatically during drought years.  Although since 2016 it is back on the rise, it is still only 44%, which as of 2020 was its highest level in six years.  One local told us she doubts Echo Bay will ever be what it used to be. 

St. Thomas, Lake Meade, NVSt. Thomas, Lake Meade, NVSt. Thomas used to be underwater, but now the ghost town has reappeared at Lake Meade.


What used to be the town of St. Thomas found itself at the bottom of Lake Mead after Boulder Dam was built.  A former Mormon settlement established in 1865, the town thrived as a stopping point between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Funny thing though, the Mormon settlers thought they were still in Utah/Arizona Territories, and several years later Nevada state authorities demanded they pay 5 years of back taxes. The Mormons refused and instead abandoned the town, burning down their houses, with the exception of one family.

Then in the 1880s, new settlers began farming the rich soil, and St. Thomas came back to life. Its peak population was around 500, and despite no indoor plumbing or electricity, life was happy in the little town. That was until the building of Boulder Dam, at which point the Government bought them out and told them to relocate. After Lake Mead reached its high water mark, St. Thomas lay 60 feet below the surface.  Today you can take a trail hike to the site which is accessible due to the low water level. 

There is so much more we didn't see around Lake Mead, but we highly recommend a visit if you are into relaxation and water fun. Visit the National Parks Lake Mead web pages for more information on various campgrounds and lake activities. 

Read more about the history of this area in our article "The Ghosts of Lake Mead"


Las Vegas, NV - ArchLas Vegas, NV - ArchRoad Construction on Las Vegas BLVD, 2021.

We've done Vegas.  I used to fly into Vegas every April for the annual National Association of Broadcasters Show. This was back when I was still in the corporate world, so while I worked the show, Kathy would fly out to meet me and explore the area.  


Las Vegas, NV - Elvis WeddingsLas Vegas, NV - Elvis WeddingsHunka Hunka burning love.


On our way through this time, we continued down Las Vegas Boulevard toward parts we haven't ventured before.  


Las Vegas, NV - Fremont HotelLas Vegas, NV - Fremont HotelPandemic Times in Las Vegas


You can tell the Pandemic has had a major impact on Vegas, but there were still areas with plenty of willing tourists with money to burn. 



Las Vegas, NV - Quirky SemisLas Vegas, NV - Quirky SemisWTF


We found this quirky statue near Freemont St.


Freemont, Las Vegas, Eat FreeLas Vegas Eat MoreOverweight? You get a bonus in Vegas.


Speaking of which, we drove by the Freemont Experience and see that if you weigh over 350 pounds, you can eat for free.  Ahh, Vegas.  See our article here about Sin City. 


Back to nature in the Valley of Fire!


LOA at the Valley of FireLOA at the Valley of FireValley of Fire, Nevada


On our way out of Boulder Beach, we journeyed through Lake Mead National Recreation Area and found the Valley of Fire State Park. 



Valley of Fire, NVValley of Fire, NVValley of Fire

Known for its bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops, petrified trees, petroglyphs dating back over 2000 years, and hiking trails, Valley of Fire is an excellent way to spend an afternoon away from the city or a weekend of camping.  Open year-round, there are numerous campsites, an RV Park, and plenty to see.



Valley of Fire, AZValley of Fire, AZA road through the Valley of Fire, AZ


Valley of Fire, Vegas Side EntryValley of Fire, Vegas Side EntryValley of Fire, Vegas Side Entry


Fortunately for us, we entered from the Lake Meade side.  This is what we saw coming out on the Vegas Side that Sunday Afternoon.  Needless to say, Valley of Fire State Park is a popular destination.  Plan ahead and visit their website for more information


They take their Aliens seriously in Nevada. 


ET Highway Crystal Springs, NVET Highway Crystal Springs, NVET Highway Crystal Springs, NV


We found our way back over to Highway 93, and took a northerly route for a few days parked in Alamo, Nevada.  We found more quirkiness not far north from there at the ghost town of Crystal Springs. That's where the Extraterrestial Highway (375) splits off and takes you to Area 51 Basecamp. 


Earth Station Crystal SpringsEarth Station Crystal SpringsEarth Station Crystal Springs


Actually, it's the Alien Research Center, a gift shop with all things Alien and more. We understand this was used as a base camp for "Storm Area 51", a 2019 ill-advised plan for hundreds to rush the gates of Area 51, an off-limits military area known for its legends of otherworldly craft. Although an associated festival drew over 1,000, only about 150 took part in the planned raid, and luckily only 7 were arrested.  Even luckier, no one was shot.  Read more about the Extraterrestrial Highway in our article here

Crystal Springs, now just a highway intersection and a few homes, was used as a watering place and campsite on an alternate route for the Mormon Trail back in the mid-1800s.  It was the provisional County Seat for Lincoln County in 1866, but when Governor Henry Blasdel along with 20 people decided to venture from Carson City with the intention of organizing Lincoln County, they found there were not enough voters for an official county. A year later the Lincoln County government was organized in nearby Hiko. 

During Blasdel's trip to the area, they made their way through Death Valley and ended up without supplies and food. One man died and others survived on lizards and other desert animals. So the Governor and another man raced to Logan City for supplies to get them to Crystal Springs. 


This brings us to our own journey to the Ghost Town of Logan City. 


Petroglyphs on the Way to Logan CityPetroglyphs on the Way to Logan CityPetroglyphs on the Way to Logan City


If you take Highway 318 out of Crystal Springs, and up to Nesbitt Lake, there is a dirt road through BLM land called Logan Canyon Road. You really should map it first, as you might not see it from the highway.  A gate is at the entrance that asks you to close it on your way through.  Hope you are in a high clearance vehicle with four-wheel drive for this adventure. 

As you near the Mt. Irish Wilderness, you'll find areas of Petroglyphs like the ones pictured above.  There are some BLM markers nearby to help you find them, so be on the lookout. 


View from Logan City Ghost TownView from Logan City Ghost TownView from Logan City Ghost Town


After a jaunt of about 9 miles (that takes over 20 minutes), up into the mountains, we finally reached Logan City, which has quite the view. 


Logan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish WildernessLogan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish WildernessLogan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish Wilderness


The mining town was established in 1865 with the discovery of silver on the eastern slope of Mount Irish. 


Logan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish WildernessLogan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish WildernessLogan City Ghost Town, Mt Irish Wilderness


Within a few months of setting up, the mining camp had a population of over 100, and by 1867 it grew to 300 when a mill was built in Hiko in the valley below. That year it also gained a post office. The mining town declined in 1869 due to the silver veins lacking depth, and new discoveries in Pioche.  Today, Logan City and Mount Irish Wilderness are frequented by off-road vehicles and hikers. 


High in the Mt. Irish WildernessMtIrishWildernessPassHigh in the Mt. Irish Wilderness


We're neither OHV (off-highway vehicle), or hikers, but our Ford F-150 was getting the job done. Instead of going back the way we came, we decided to try to find another ghost town on the other side of the mountain, so up we continued, on some pretty questionable road.  The picture above is about the time Kathy was saying "No More Unknown Roads!"  I was trying not to look, and keep my eye on the narrow path with nothing but a steep drop next to me.  That red X marks the spot where we left Highway 318 onto the BLM Road.  It took us what seemed like hours to go all the way back down and to ET Highway 375. 

Note to self, don't worry Kathy with little tidbits like "I hope we have enough gas", or "sure don't want to change a flat on this mountain." Stress can lead to an awfully quiet ride back to the RV. 

Also See:

Early Mining Discoveries in Nevada

See many of these images and more in our Southern Nevada Photo Print Gallery. 


Next, we mosey up to Caliente and explore Pioche. 

Cya on the road! - Dave


For RVers

While in Alamo, Nevada, we stayed at Picketts RV Park, in the heart of the Pahranagat Valley. An enjoyable stay with a grocery store and gas station next door.  Management was very accommodating. It's a small RV Park but seemed to be busy with many OHV travelers using it as a base for off-road adventures.  They offer large pull-through sites capable of serving rigs up to 90 feet, full hook-ups 30/50 amp, cable TV, Great WiFi, modern bathrooms with tub and shower, a small laundry facility in the office, Propane sales, and a dump station. 

(Legends of America Photo Prints) Area 51 Boulder Beach Boulder City Crystal Springs Echo Bay Hoover Dam Lake Mead Las Vegas Laughlin Logan City Ghost Town Mount Irish St. Thomas Valley of Fire https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/giant-rabbits-and-an-off-road-nail-biter-in-nevada Wed, 17 Mar 2021 01:31:45 GMT
Across Arizona from a Mission to a Bridge https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/across-arizona-from-a-mission-to-a-bridge  

We didn't move far from the Tombstone area before finding more great history in the Grand Canyon State. 


San Xavier del bac, ArizonaSan Xavier del bacSan Xavier del bac, 2021. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


Just south of Tucson, a National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Spanish Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit Explorer, in 1692. The mission was established in the center of a centuries-old Indian settlement of the Sobaipuri O’odham Indians located along the banks of the Santa Cruz River.


San Xavier del bacSan Xavier del bacSan Xavier del bac


During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Catholic missions were an integral part of Spanish colonization. Missions, usually run by Jesuit or Franciscan friars, created European settlements that allowed colonization to expand the boundaries of Spanish culture and influence. Construction on the mission that still stands began in 1783 under the residency of Father Juan Bautista Velderrain. It wasn't completed until 1797.



San Xavier del bacSan Xavier del bacSan Xavier del bac


The beautiful Spanish mission was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1960. The church continues to serve the residents of the San Xavier Reservation. The church is open to visitors daily, except during special services, and the public is welcome to join the San Xavier community for regular masses. 

Learn more about San Xavier del Bac Mission and its legacy here 

Begin your journey of Spanish Exploration here


Fort Lowell & The Indian Wars


Fort Lowell Museum, Tucson ArizonaFort Lowell MuseumFort Lowell Museum, Tucson Arizona


Fort Lowell National Historic Place is part of Fort Lowell Park on the outskirts of Tucson.   A military post in Tucson was initially established by the U.S. Army in 1856. This post however wasn't permanent, and the Confederate Army took it over for a brief time in 1862 when they took control of Tucson.  After the war, the US Military re-established the post and named it Camp Lowell, in honor of General Charles R. Lowell who was killed in the Civil War.

Hospital Ruins at Fort Lowell, Tucson.Hospital Ruins, Fort LowellHospital Ruins at Fort Lowell, Tucson.


The Camp was moved six miles northeast of town in 1873 where it sat at the confluence of the Pantano and Tanque Verdes washes, becoming the Rillito River.  The reservation, selected for its abundant water, grass, and wood, extended over 10 miles east and was about 80 square miles. 

The Chief Trumpeter, Fort Lowell National Historic Place, Tucson. The Chief Trumpeter, Fort Lowell National Historic Place, Tucson. The Chief Trumpeter - Honoring the enlisted men who served in the Southwest during the Apache Indian Wars in the 1870s and 1880s. At Fort Lowell (1873-1891) National Historic Place.


Today, close to the entry of the Park, visitors are greeted by "The Chief Trumpeter" - Honoring the enlisted men who served in the Southwest during the Apache Indian Wars in the 1870s and 1880s.  The camp was renamed Fort Lowell in 1879, and over its lifetime until 1891, housed over 200 men and 13 officers.  The military reservation went back to the public domain in 1894, opening up the area to homesteaders.  Today, Fort Lowell Park preserves some of the remaining ruins, including the old Hospital, and features a Museum (check ahead for hours due to the Pandemic, it was not open during our visit).  The Park and Museum, part of the Arizona Historical Society, are located at 2900 N. Craycroft Rd in Tucson. 


A portion of the Quartermaster Depot, Fort Lowell. A portion of the Quartermaster Depot, Fort Lowell. A portion of the Quartermaster Depot, Fort Lowell.


Across the road, Fort Lowell National Historic District, a primarily residential area, still has some of the old Fort Ruins, but most appeared behind fences, like this photo of the old Quartermasters Depot.  See more about the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood via their website here


San Pedro Chapel, Fort Lowell Historic District, Tucson.San Pedro Chapel, Fort Lowell Historic District, Tucson.San Pedro Chapel, Fort Lowell Historic District, Tucson.


We found this church in the Historic District.  The San Pedro Chapel sits on a hillside overlooking the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood. Built by residents in 1932, the Chapel no longer has regular services, but the beautiful building is the site of many weddings and other events, such as neighborhood gatherings, historic lectures, art exhibits, parties, and memorials. (See their website here).


Read more about Fort Lowell via our article here

Learn more about the Arizona Indian Wars via our story HERE. 



Skyline of Tucson ArizonaTucson ArizonaSkyline of Tucson Arizona


We had a good time social distancing in Tucson, driving around and taking in the downtown area. 


Tucson MuralTucson MuralTucson Mural


Hugo O'Conor, the Spanish military Governor of Northern Mexico, founded the city in 1775, authorizing the construction of the Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón, which was the founding structure of what would become Tucson. 


Presidio San Augustin, TucsonPresidio San Augustin, TucsonPresidio San Augustin, Tucson


Although Tucson flourished under Spanish rule, it wouldn't be until American Possession of the territory before the population gained more than around 500.  When Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1821, the Spanish garrison continued as the Aristocracy supported Mexico's independence and continued to rule the northern part of the Mexican State of Sonora. 


Presidio San Augustin Del TucsonPresidio San Augustin Del Tucson Mural_fbPresidio San Augustin Del Tucson


Tucson came under United States Control with the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, although the Mexican garrison at the Presidio didn't leave until 1856. Then a part of New Mexico Territory, the US Army, just like their predecessors, had to deal with attacks from Apache Warriors.  But as the area was already known to contain sought-after minerals, mining camps and towns sprang up all around Tucscon and continued to be the primary economy until the early 1900s.  Today, Tucson is the second-largest city of Arizona, sporting a metro population of almost One Million. 


Presidio San Augustin Del TucsonPresidio San Augustin Del TucsonPresidio San Augustin Del Tucson


By 1910, only a few ruins of the original Presidio remained, however, work to uncover the Northeastern sections of the Presidio walls in the early 2000s led to their recreation and establishment of a park and museum.  Today visitors can tour this section of the recreated Presidio and learn about its long history at the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum, 196 N. Court Ave in downtown Tucson. 

For more information about the museum, visit their website here

Also see our article "Presidio of Tucson" here. 


Barrio Viejo Neighborhood, Tucson, ArizonaBarrio Viejo Neighborhood, Tucson, ArizonaBarrio Viejo Neighborhood, Tucson, Arizona


Nearby, Tucson's Old Neighborhood, or Barrio Viejo, still features some of the 19th-century homes and businesses, although most were bulldozed in the 1960s to make way for a Convention Center. We saw many taking walking tours of the neighborhood.  For more information about Barrio Viejo see the Southern Arizona Guide article here


Landscape North of Tucson, Arizona.Landscape North of Tucson, Arizona.Landscape North of Tucson, Arizona.


On our way out of Tucson, we decided it was time for some more "ghost town" exploration.  We found it just outside of Florence.   


Pinal County Court House, Florence, AZPinal County Court House, Florence, AZPinal County Court House, Florence, AZ


Florence, the county seat of Pinal County, is historic in itself, with 25 buildings on the National Historic Register.  However, if you travel a couple of miles out of town, things didn't fare well for another small town. 

Adamsville Ghost Town, outside of Florence, ArizonaAdamsville Ghost TownAdamsville Ghost Town, outside of Florence, Arizona


Adamsville was one of the first two towns in this area, founded by Fred Adams in 1866.  When a post office was established in 1871, a political enemy of Adams named the town Sanford, however local residents continued to use Adamsville until 1876 when the post office was shut down. 


Adamsville Ghost Town, outside of Florence, ArizonaAdamsville Ghost Town, outside of Florence, ArizonaAdamsville Ghost Town, outside of Florence, Arizona


A marker for Adamsville reads "In the 1870s, a flour mill and a few stores formed the hub of life in Adamsville, where shootings and knifings were commonplace, and life was one of the cheapest commodities. Most of the adobe houses have been washed away by the flooding Gila River." 

It became a ghost town in the early 1920s and today only a couple of structures remain of this once-thriving farming community.  You can find Adamsville 2 miles west of Florence on Adamsville road. Don't blink or you'll miss it. 


Family, Friends, and Downtime in the Phoenix Area


Parakeets in our tree at the RV Park in Apache Junction, Arizona.Apache Junction ParakeetsParakeets in our tree at the RV Park in Apache Junction, Arizona.


That's a Palm Tree in the driveway of our RV resort in Apache Junction. And yes, those are Parakeets. Apparently, a couple of large bird releases in the 1980s, one a monsoon stricken aviary in Apache Junction, resulted in the Phoenix Area becoming home to colonies of the tropical birds.  Authorities say this region of Arizona, with its many Palm Trees, closely resembles their native habitat.  

We decided to take our own website's advice in our article "Working While you RV", which says to make sure you set time aside for your life and vacation. So we did, spending time with some family that lives nearby, and visiting some neighbors from back home who now live here half of the year. Although there are still a lot of people who flock to the Phoenix area during the Winter, this year we heard figures of up to 600,000 missing due to the Pandemic and Canadian regulations making it hard to come to the U.S.  

There is a lot to see and do here in this area, but we did it already in 2015 on our journey home from our Death Valley adventure.

See our 2015 blog about the area from Yuma, east to Fort Bowie here

See our story on Goldfield Arizona here. 

And check out our story on the Lost Dutchman Mine here. 


Pushing East toward a bridge...


Buckskin Mountain State Park, AZ - Colorado RiverBuckskin Mountain State Park, AZ - Colorado RiverColorado River at Buckskin Mountain State Park, looking at California on the other side.


That's the shoreline of the Colorado River, and California on the other side. We landed at a wonderful RV Park in Buckskin Mountain State Park, between Parker and Lake Havasu City. 


Buckskin Mountain State Park RV CampgroundBuckskin Mountain State Park RV CampgroundBuckskin Mountain State Park RV Campground


This is a popular area for hikers, campers, and more, and we thoroughly enjoyed the park's view of the river and mountains surrounding it.  If in the area, we recommend visiting Buckskin Mountain State Park. Here's a link to their website.


Flag over Buckskin Mountain State ParkFlag over Buckskin Mountain State ParkFlag over Buckskin Mountain State Park


One thing we noticed was the patriotic touch to mountain tops, with the Flag flying high on several of them around the State Park. 


Parker DamParker DamParker Dam


Just down the road, we drove over Parker Dam, the deepest Dam in the World. The dam, built in the 1930s, is 320 feet high with 235 feet of that below the river bed down to the bedrock foundation.  The dam, straddling the state line, forms the reservoir for Lake Havasu.  Read about the interesting history of the dam, and the fight over the Colorado River here in this National Park Service Article


Lake Havasu Lake Havasu Lake Havasu


This brings us to Lake Havasu and Lake Havasu City. The city itself doesn't have a lot of history.  It was founded as a planned community in the 1960s primarily for recreation and retirement. However, its claim to fame comes from across the Atlantic.  


London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, ArizonaLondon Bridge, Lake Havasu City, ArizonaLondon Bridge, Lake Havasu City, Arizona


The "Old" London Bridge of nursery rhyme fame was a stone bridge built by Peter of Colechurch, an architect and priest, between 1176 and 1209. By the end of the 18th century, the bridge needed to be replaced. It had fallen into severe disrepair and was blocking river traffic. Designed in 1799 by Scottish engineer John Rennie, the "New" London Bridge was completed in 1831. However, motor traffic in the early 20th century took its toll on the stone bridge, sinking it further into the River Thames. 

In 1967, the city of London, England decided to rid themselves of the problem, and sell the bridge. Lake Havasu City founder Robert P. McCulloch Sr took advantage of the opportunity to attract visitors and residents to his new town and bought the historic bridge for $2.4 Million in 1968. The purchase included ornate lampposts made from the melted-down cannons captured by the British from Napoleon's army, after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. 


Lake Havasu City English VillageLake Havasu City English VillageLake Havasu City English Village


The bridge was dismantled brick by brick, each numbered and brought to the United States. It was then reconstructed on dry land. After completion, the land under the bridge was dredged, creating Bridgewater Channel and "The Island" across the bridge. McCulloch also created "English Village", an open-air mall beside the bridge.


Burgers by the Bridge, English Village, Lake Havasu City, AZ.Burgers by the Bridge, English Village, Lake Havasu City, AZ.Burgers by the Bridge, English Village, Lake Havasu City, AZ.


 On October 10, 1971, the completed bridge was formally dedicated in a ceremony attended by over 50,000 American and British spectators and dignitaries. During our visit, we stopped at the English Village for some great grub (takeout for us) at Burgers by the Bridge.  We highly recommend the onion rings and the Ortega Burger. 

Learn more about Lake Havasu via their website here


Moon rises over the Colorado River, Buckskin Mountain State Park, Arizona looking into California. Moon rises over the Colorado River, Buckskin Mountain State Park, Arizona looking into California. Moon rises over the Colorado River, Buckskin Mountain State Park, Arizona looking into California. Photo by Dave Alexander.


That's it for now. We're still working around data availability and our own desire to take this trip a little slower than most.  Coming up, we pass through the Bullhead City and Laughlin area to Boulder City Nevada, home of Hoover Dam.  

Cya on the road! 

(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arizona Buckskin Mountain State Park Fort Lake Havasu City London Bridge Lowell parakeets in apache junction Parker Dam Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón San Xavier Mission travel Tucson https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/3/across-arizona-from-a-mission-to-a-bridge Sun, 07 Mar 2021 01:50:04 GMT
Cochise, Dinosaurs in Dragoon, and Texas Canyon https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/cochise-dinosaurs-in-dragoon-and-texas-canyon Cochise Hotel, AZCochise Hotel, AZCochise Hotel in Cochise Arizona



The ghost town of Cochise, just off Arizona Highway 191, has a bit of history, but after peaking at 3,000 residents, it's home to only a few dozen now. History lovers still come here though for the historic Cochise Hotel.



Cochise Hotel, AZCochise Hotel, AZCochise Hotel, AZ



It was in the mid-1890s that Cochise got its start as a depot for the Southern Pacific Railroad.  John Rath, a telegraph operator at Fort Bowie, established the town with a well, and built the Rath Hotel, now the Cochise Hotel.  Listed as a Historic Landmark, the hotel once marked the shipping hub for cattle and ore. It also served as a telegraph office, justice of the peace, and postoffice. One of the oldest hotels associated with the Southern Pacific Railroad, Big Nose Kate, the famed sidekick of Doc Holliday, worked here in 1899. Today, Phillip Gessert,  a western historian, and author, operates the historic building as a Bed & Breakfast, event, and private parties venue, and offers "museum tours" by appointment only.  



Abandoned Store, Cochise, ArizonaAbandoned Store, Cochise, ArizonaAbandoned Store, Cochise, Arizona


This General store next door to the hotel dates back to 1913. Today it sits abandoned.  There's more history here of interest, including a daring train robbery that netted a large loot. But that's better told by James Harvey McClintock in this article from 1913, the Cochise Train Robbery

And click here for the story of Cochise, Strong Apache Leader


Roadrunner in Cochise, AZRoadrunner in Cochise, AZRoadrunner in Cochise, AZ



Meep Meep... time to move on. We cut over on Cochise Stronghold Road to Dragoon Rd in hopes of finding an old stage station. 



Jesus Mural in Dragoon, AZJesus Mural in Dragoon, AZDragoon Jesus



The town of Dragoon has always been a small affair, with about 200 residents spread out. 



Dragoon, AZ abandoned storeDragoon, AZAbandoned in Dragoon


In 1915, J.H. Smith built a large grocery store and filling station at the main intersection in town. Today the building is the only structure remaining from the early days of Dragoon. The old train depot, hotel, and post office have either collapsed or have been dismantled and hauled away. As the old building represents the last commercial remains of old Dragoon, Arizona, a small overland stage stop and train stop in rural Arizona, and played an important role as a  social gathering place for the community during the early years of Arizona Statehood, it was listed on the National Register of historic places in 2004

Old Ranch Rd, in front of the store, supposedly would have lead us to the historic Dragoon Springs Stage Station, however, our way was blocked by a ranchers gate, so apparently, you can't get there from here. 


Rattlesnake Ranch, Dragoon, AZRattlesnake Ranch, Dragoon, AZWelcome to Rattlesnake Ranch


Continuing north on Dragoon Rd, just a short jaunt from the old store, we stumbled upon... DINOSAURS!



Rattle Snake Ranch T-RexRattle Snake Ranch T-RexRattle Snake Ranch T-Rex



Rattlesnake Ranch is a great quirky stop to enjoy some art and stretch the legs.  And there's quite a bit of property to stretch on, just stay in the "welcome" areas.  



Rattlesnake Ranch, Dragoon, AZRattlesnake Ranch, Dragoon, AZRattlesnake Ranch, Dragoon, AZ



Rattlesnake Ranch used to be John & Sandy’s Rattlesnake Crafts & Rocks, a souvenir shop that attracted motorists with its metal statues of Indians, snakes, and Dinosaurs.  



Snake art at Rattlesnake Ranch, AZSnake art at Rattlesnake Ranch, AZSnake art at Rattlesnake Ranch, AZ



John and Sandy Weber retired, but you can still venture in to take in the art. Area's that you are not welcome are clearly marked, and a donation box remains at the front gate. 



Rattlesnake Ranch WarriorRattlesnake Ranch WarriorRattlesnake Ranch Warrior



We enjoyed this stop for its photo opportunities and will be adding more to our Southeast Arizona Photo Print Gallery soon. 



Texas Canyon ArizonaTexas Canyon ArizonaTexas Canyon Arizona



As you approach I-10 you're now in Texas Canyon.  A valley of giant boulders between the Little Dragoon Mountains to the north and the Dragoon Mountains to the south. The Butterfield Overland Mail passed through the canyon in the late 1850s.  It's named for an early pioneer to Cochise County, David Adams, who moved here from Texas in the 1880s, and whose ranch is still in the family. 



Texas Canyon ArizonaTexas Canyon ArizonaTexas Canyon Arizona



There are some great views of the unique landscape at a rest area along I-10, however get off on Dragoon Rd at exit 318 to see even more. Also around that exit is The Amerind Foundation, a privately funded archaeological and ethnographic research facility, library, museum, and art gallery founded by William Shirley Fulton in the 1930s. 



Courtland, AZ - RuinsCourtland, AZ - RuinsRuins in the ghost town of Courtland, AZ.



During our stay in this area we did have a chance to revisit the Ghost Town Trail, which leads out of Tombstone through the Ghost Towns of Gleeson, Courtland and Pearce. 



Pearce, AZ - General StorePearce, AZ - General StorePearce, AZ - General Store



We did this trail back in 2007, and with rainy weather the day of our visit this year, we didn't get very many good updated photos. So the ones you are seeing here are over a decade old. 



Gleeson, AZ - SchoolGleeson, AZ - SchoolRemains of the old Gleeson School



The day trip is a good one though if you are staying in the area, just for something a little different, or if you are a ghost town lover like us. Read more about the Ghost Town Trail HERE. 

That's it for now, but more coming soon as we continued our journey west toward Spanish Missions and lots of history in the Tucson Area.  Cya on the road!

(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arizona Cochise Cochise Hotel Dinosaurs Dragoon Metal Art Mural Rattlesnake Ranch Warriors https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/cochise-dinosaurs-in-dragoon-and-texas-canyon Sun, 28 Feb 2021 16:43:04 GMT
Bisbee, Lowell and Some Naco Please https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/bisbee-lowell-and-some-naco-please

Bisbee, AZ - 1909Bisbee, AZ - 1909Bisbee, Arizona by the West Coast Art Co., 1909. Vintage photo restored by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


While we were in Tombstone we ventured out on a day trip to the home of the Copper Queen Mine, where one of the world’s richest mineral sites resulted in what was once the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco, Bisbee, Arizona. 


BisbeeBisbee ArizonaDowntown Bisbee


Bisbee got its start as a mining camp after army scouts and cavalrymen found a good-looking rock in the Mule Mountains’ Tombstone Canyon in the fall of 1877. By 1880, the mining camp known as Mule Gulch became a town and was named after Judge Dewitt Bisbee, a financial backer of the area’s Copper Queen Mine, the largest claim at the time.


Cochise County Courthouse BisbeeCochise County Courthouse BisbeeActive Cochise County Courthouse, Bisbee AZ


In 1929, Bisbee became the seat of Cochise County, taking that honor away from nearby Tombstone, where the old historic courthouse still stands. 


Bisbee_MiningLavender Pit Mine, Bisbee/LowellLavender Pit Mine, Bisbee/Lowell AZ
The mining boom ended in the 1950s, and the population dropped to less than 6,000, however during that same time, the manager of the Copper Queen, Harrison Lavender, introduced open-pit mining, which would result in the huge Lavender Pit mine, which covers 300 acres and is a thousand feet deep, replacing what was once Sacramento Hill. It remains today as a popular tourist attraction. The Lavender Pit is also known for producing some of the finest turquoise in the world, known as Bisbee Blue.


The Inn at Castle Rock, Bisbee AZThe Inn at Castle Rock, Bisbee AZThe Inn at Castle Rock, Bisbee AZ


Today, Bisbee is known as an artist’s community and thrives on tourism thanks to its citizens’ efforts to restore the historic district. Mining also saw a small resurgence around 2007 when Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold bought out Phelps Dodge. The population of Bisbee in 2010 was about 5,500, a fraction of the former boom days.

Read more about Bisbee

Read about John Heath and the Bisbee Massacre




The Lowell Life

Lowell LifeLowell ArizonaThe Lowell Life


On the southern end of the Lavender Pit, Lowell used to be a fairly large mining town, with the pit swallowing most of the original townsite. 


LowellWelcome to Lowell, AZDon't know the dog's name, so we'll call him/her Bandit. Sorry, didn't get close enough to know how Bandit identified.


I don't know what his name is, so I'll just call him Bandit.  Good boy Bandit, thanks for the welcome. 


Lowell ArizonaLowell TruckThe door of an old truck in Lowell, AZ.


On the side of the old truck below the welcome... The famous Broken Spoke Saloon in Sturgis, South Dakota was sold to Bisbee resident Jay Allen who continues to use the "brand."


Classic Car in Lowell, AZLowell, AZLots of classic cars in Lowell, AZ.


We parked and walked along Historic Erie Street, really enjoying the nostalgia. About the only thing left of the original town, Erie St. is a living snapshot of another time, restored by residents and volunteers who want to preserve another period in American life.


Lowell ArizonaLowell, AZDriving through Lowell, Arizona


Discover Bisbee describes it best, "...what remains of Lowell today is a strikingly intact, historical mid-century street – often utilized as a backdrop for film and video shoots, and well worth a visit to walk back in time.

See our story "The Rise and Fall of Lowell" HERE.


Camp Naco, Border Fort. 


Camp Naco, Naco ArizonaCamp Naco, Naco ArizonaBuildings of the old Camp Naco in Naco Arizona.


Camp Naco, aka Fort Naco or Fort Newell, sits on the southern US border about 12 miles south of Bisbee. Surrounded by chainlink fence, the few remaining buildings document the only remaining border fort constructed during the Mexican Revolution.  Today it is owned by the City of Bisbee. 


Naco ArizonaNaco ArizonaOld business in Naco, Arizona


The small town of Naco needed the Fort to protect from fighting across the border.  It suffered the Battle of Naco in 1913 and the later Siege of Naco in 1915 in the sister city of Sonora, Mexico. It also has the honor of being the first and only U.S. mainland city to be aerial bombed by a foreign force, happening by accident in 1929.  Today, Naco has around 1,000 residents. 


Old Border Station in Naco, AZOld Border Station in Naco, AZOld Border Station in Naco, AZ


A border crossing since 1902, the Naco Port of Entry operates 24 hours a day.  Read more about Camp Naco HERE.

That's it for now. The data gods are smiling, as well as Mother Nature, so we are catching up. Next up, Cochise, dinosaurs in Dragoon, and Texas Canyon. 

We'll be adding up these and more images soon to our Arizona Photo Print Galleries here

Cya on the Road!


(Legends of America Photo Prints) Bisbee camp Fort fort ruins Historic Eric Street history Lavender Pit Lowell Naco https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/bisbee-lowell-and-some-naco-please Tue, 23 Feb 2021 11:58:00 GMT
Pancho Villa, Geronimo, and Old West Gunfights https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/pancho-villa-geronimo-and-old-west-gunfights  

New Mexico Highway 9 into ColumbusNew Mexico Highway 9 into ColumbusNew Mexico Highway 9 into Columbus


On February 13th, we booked it out of El Paso as the mother of all Winter Storms was still on our heels. Running along the southern US border on New Mexico Highway 9, our first stop was a quick revisit of Columbus, the site of the Battle of Columbus in 1916.  


Columbus NMColumbus, NMBorderland Cafe in Columbus, NM


This small community just three miles north of the Mexican Border is known most for Pancho Villa's raid on March 9, 1916, which resulted in US forces mobilizing and sending troops across the border. A fascinating tale related to us by author Jesse L. “Wolf” Hardin back in 2006 which you can read here

There's a museum on the highway, along with Pancho Villa State Park that is worth a visit. 

We missed this while we were there, but just outside of Columbus going north is the City of the Sun Foundation. Established in 1972 this quirky "utopian" place is one of the oldest New Age intentional communities in the state.


Ghost town of Hachita, NM Hachita, NMGhost town of Hachita, NM


As we continued on Highway 9, we also made a stop to refresh our photos of the ghost town of Hachita. At the entrance to the bootheel of southwestern New Mexico, the original town of Hachita was settled around 1875 as a mining camp. In 1902, when tracks were laid for the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad nine miles east of Hachita, another competing settlement sprang up, drawing away from the original town and dividing residents between “Old Hachita” and the new Hachita. 


Hachita New MexicoHachita New MexicoHachita New Mexico


Mining continued in Old Hachita until around 1920, but it was eventually abandoned.  At its peak, the new Hachita had about 700 residents, today it is less than 50. Read about the town's connection with old west outlaws and the Mexican Revolution here.


Chiricahua Mountains AZChiricahua Mountains AZChiricahua Mountains AZ


Pushing on into Arizona we can see the Chiricahua Mountains ahead. Lots of great history in this region, dominated by Apache Warrior Geronimo. The Chiricahua Apache fought hard in Mexico and the southern US territories against the incursion of settlers on their lands, with Geronimo being one of the last holdouts. 


Geronimo Monument, Apache, AZGeronimo Monument, Apache, AZGeronimo Monument, Apache, AZ


A monument can be found off Historic Arizona highway 80 at Apache, AZ.  This stop commemorates the surrender of Geronimo nearby, but the region is full of tales of the Apache's fight against the invasion of their homelands. Read about Geronimo here. You may also be interested in our article about the Apache Wars here.



Tombstone, AZ - Sixgun MillerTombstone, AZ - Sixgun MillerSixgun Miller asks "Are you looking for a gunfight?"


One of our primary destinations this trip was to revisit Tombstone, with our last visit back in 2007.  Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Sixgun Miller.  Joe has deep ties to Arkansas and Fort Smith, where he learned about our website in its early days and has been a reader since. The actor and gunfighter is also the founder of Gunslinger's Mall, Arkansas Largest Frontier Classics Clothing Dealer with over 25 product lines for Film, Reenactors, Sass shooters and CMSA folks. It was great to see you Sixgun. 

Here he was inviting us to a gunfight... or at least to watch one at The Gunfight Palace.


Gunfight Palace, Tombstone, AZGunfight Palace, Tombstone, AZShow at the Gunfight Palace on Allen Street, Tombstone.


It was a good show worth the admission and touted to be based on historical facts, instead of Hollywood stories.  


Tombsone, AZ - Doc HollidaysTombsone, AZ - Doc HollidaysPhoto by Dave Alexander.


Doc says to use the hand sanitizer on your way in. We did our part in wearing masks when we should and socially distanced as much as possible.  


Allen Street, Tombstone ArizonaAllen Street, Tombstone ArizonaAllen Street, Tombstone Arizona


Allen street must be one of the most well-known blocks for Old West history in the U.S. With names like Doc Holliday, the Earp brothers Wyatt, James, Virgil and Morgan, Johnny Ringo, Big Nose Kate, and many more once prominently figured here. 


Tombstone, AZ - Ladies GunfightTombstone, AZ - Ladies GunfightPhoto by Dave Alexander.


We were there in time to catch the annual Tombstone Vigilante Days, which include gunfight reenactments, street entertainment, gunfight competitions, hangings, and more.  Despite Kathy's best effort, she could not get a pic of me with a noose around my neck. 


Cochise County Court House, TombstoneCochise County Court House, TombstoneOld Cochise County Court House, Tombstone.


Of course, there is more to Tombstone than just Allen Street.  Check out the historic Cochise County Court House, Boot Hill Museum on the edge of town off historic hwy 80, or take a tour of more via Stage Coach. 


Tombstone, AZ - Stagecoach - 2Tombstone, AZ - Stagecoach - 2Stagecoach on Allen Street, Tombstone.


The family would also enjoy a visit to Old Tombstone Western Theme Park a block off Allen St. 


Tombstone, AZ - Western TownTombstone, AZ - Western TownAttraction in Tombstone


There's a lot to do in Tombstone, and a lot to read about and see on our website.  Start with our article on Tombstone and visit the many links to historic text, characters, gunfights, saloons, and more included. 

Also see our Tombstone Photo Gallery, which we will be adding to very soon. 




There is more to do close by, but as the Sun Sets in the West, we must saddle up for now. Next up Bisbee, Lowell, ghost towns, and a bit of Naco. 

See you on the road!

While here, we stayed at the Tombstone RV Park and Campground.  A good place for the family to be close to Tombstone, yet away from the hubbub.  Clean park, community center, laundry, showers, and bathrooms, with pull-throughs and full hookups. 

A couple of items of note though for our readers.  This park charges a little extra if you have a dog.  Our furry kids did not like the fine sharp rock they used for the streets and RV slots. The Dog Run behind the office is the same "rock." Signs around most grass areas instruct you to keep pets off. So, we're not sure what we got for the extra charge. 

They also advertise Wifi, however during our stay we never could get it to work well, or at all most of the time. We were warned coming in that it was a busy weekend, however, we tried at 3 am in the morning, and again after many of the RV's had cleared out on Tuesday morning, and still couldn't get it to work.  A fix might have been as simple as rebooting their wifi system but be forewarned in case this is the norm.  We had a weak ATT data signal here inside our Travel Trailer.

We're traveling in a 30' Cheyenne Grey Wolf travel trailer. 

(Legends of America Photo Prints) attractions Columbus Geronimo ghost town Hachita history information New Mexico Pancho Villa Tombstone travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/pancho-villa-geronimo-and-old-west-gunfights Thu, 18 Feb 2021 15:48:01 GMT
Butterfield, Salt Flats and Warm El Paso https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/butterfield-salt-flats-elpaso  

leavingandrewsLeaving Andrews, TxCold day in West Texas


So far our journey to warmer weather has us running from Mother Nature still, even in West Texas. We are thankful for the Andrews Chamber of Commerce and their free paved RV parking lot with hookups. 


Guadalupe MountainsGuadalupe MountainsClouds breaking over the Guadalupe Mountains.


As we moved west toward El Paso, we could see the blue sky behind the Guadalupe Mountains. Our next stop would be the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. 


Butterfield Pinery StationButterfield Pinery StationRemains of the Butterfield Pinery Station, next to the visitors center for the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.


Built in 1858 as part of the Butterfield Overland Mail Route, the Pinery, or Pine Springs Stage Stand only made it a year before being abandoned when the line moved to the Davis Mountain Route. The ruins of the old Pinery are found next to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Visitors Center on Highway 62 about 2 hours outside of El Paso, Texas. Read about Butterfield's Overland Mail HERE.  


Salt Flats of West TexasSalt Flats of West TexasSalt Flats of West Texas


The El Paso Salt War, also known as the Salinero Revolt and the San Elizario Salt War, began in the late 1860s and was a struggle between El Paso, Texas businessmen to acquire title to the salt deposits near the base of the Guadalupe Mountains. The political and legal struggle extended to an armed conflict waged with the Mexican and Tejano residents living in the communities on both sides of the Rio Grande. See more about it here


Salt Flat, TxSalt Flat, TxThe ghost town of Salt Flat, Texas.


Salt Flat, Texas, a ghost town located in Hudspeth County in west Texas, got its start in the 1920s. Locals provide “a word to the wise” to travelers thinking about taking a fun drive through shining white Salt Flats of the area. Though they look solid and flat, many a traveler has gotten stuck in these sands, facing large expenses for tow trucks to come from as far away as El Paso. Read about Salt Flat.


El Paso MuralsEl Paso MuralsOne of Many El Paso Murals


When we came into El Paso it was a gorgeous 68 degrees. Spent a couple of nights there so we could unhitch and explore.


El Paso Concordia CemeteryEl Paso Concordia CemeteryThe 1840s Concordia Cemetery is well known for being the burial place of several gunslingers and old west lawmen including John Wesley Hardin and John Selman.


The 1840s Concordia Cemetery is well known for being the burial place of several gunslingers and old west lawmen including John Wesley Hardin and John Selman.


Downtown El PasoDowntown El PasoLooking north from the historic Market Square toward downtown El Paso.


Downtown El Paso is something Kathy has done before. In 2016, Kathy flew out to appear in the AHC Series “American Lawmen” in the episode "Dallas Stoudenmire: The Hero of El Paso." A gunfighter and lawman, Dallas Stoudenmire was involved in more gunfights than most of his better-known counterparts and is credited with successfully taming one of the most violent towns in the Old West. Read about him...


Mercado, El Paso Market SquareEl Paso Market SquareEl Paso Market Square


Kathy made sure that she had the chance to 're-visit' El Centro, just off downtown. Open-air market-style shops line the streets, with historic El Paso Street as 'the face' of the district.


Colon Theatre - El Paso, TexasColon Theatre - El Paso, TexasColon Theatre - El Paso, Texas


It was fun to drive and look at, but we would need another day to walk the street. 


Ciudad Juárez, MexicoCiudad Juárez, Mexico Ciudad Juárez, Mexico from across the border in El Paso.


This is right on the border shared with Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, commonly called simply Juárez. It started as El Paso del Norte (The Pass of the North) until it was renamed in 1888. This is the most populous city in the Mexican State of Chihuahua.  We didn't get a chance to see it but were told a scenic excursion is the Trans Mountain Road which leads to a view of both cities. 


El Paso Union DepotEl Paso Union DepotBuilt in 1905, the El Paso Union Depot is still an active Train Station.


Built in 1905, the El Paso Union Depot is still an active Train Station. 

Oops, sorry, that's it for now. See those clouds? Time to push on to Arizona. See you on the road!

While in El Paso we stayed at the El Paso Roadrunner RV Park.  This was a great stop. The staff was incredibly helpful, the pull-throughs were well kept, full hookups, and access to RV repair.  We also got some takeout from Tacos Chinampa. GREAT tacos.

Dave Alexander

Kaydee Dog says "where's the damn grass?"


(Legends of America Photo Prints) Butterfield Overland Mail El Paso Pine Springs Stage Stand Pinery Salt Flat Texas Salt Flat War Station https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/butterfield-salt-flats-elpaso Sun, 14 Feb 2021 14:55:31 GMT
Just passing through https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/just-passing-through Stanton, TX - Texas SignStanton, TX - Texas Sign"Texas" sign on an old building in Stanton, Martin County, Texas. Photo by Carol Highsmith.


We stopped for some family time with Kathy's sister Deb in the Dallas area over the weekend, then Tuesday we rushed to the southwest in an attempt to outrun Mother Nature. Yes, occasionally Winter does arrive in this part of the state, and it was hot on our heels. In fact, as we left, they were already starting to salt the highways and interstates. Thought we would get some great photo ops on our long trek across Texas, but the drizzle and fog hid the rugged beauty well. 


Fort Chadbourne, TX - Parade GroundFort Chadbourne, TX - Parade GroundPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


We've done this part of Texas before, and it's well worth your time to drive the Texas Fort's Trail. Though it can’t possibly cover the more than four dozen old forts and presidios across the vast Lone Star State, this 650-mile Scenic Byway certainly provides a glimpse into many of these lonely outposts that were once situated on the dangerous hills and dales of central Texas.


Andrews, TXWinter ChaseWinter chased us all the way through Central and most of West Texas.


We made it from Dallas deep into West Texas without really seeing the scenery around us until the last hour of our journey. We have plenty of photos from our previous trips to Southwest Texas though, so be sure to check out our Texas Galleries


Abilene, TX - Abilene, TX - Frontier Texas Museum BuffaloAbilene, TX - Abilene, TX - Frontier Texas Museum BuffaloFrontier Texas Museum in Abilene, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


If you are in Abeline, a must-stop is Frontier Texas, a world-class interactive museum and official visitors center for Abeline and the Texas Forts Trail.  For more information see their website here


Fort Stockton, TX - Paisano PeteFort Stockton, TX - Paisano Pete


Also, not too much farther south from our current location is the northern part of the Pecos Heritage Trail. At some 1,356 miles in length, it encompasses 22 counties, seven state parks, dozens of towns, and hundreds of historical, cultural, natural, and recreational destinations. See more about that fantastic Texas journey here.


El Paso, TX - Street SceneEl Paso, TX - Street Scene

We'll be pushing on to El Paso, then ultimately our first primary destination, Tombstone Arizona, in time for Valentine's Day. Looking forward to the warmer weather we thought we'd have in Texas. 


(Legends of America Photo Prints) destinations Forts Frontier Heritage Pecos Texas Trail travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/just-passing-through Wed, 10 Feb 2021 17:30:57 GMT
Talimena Scenic Views https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/destination-talimena-scenic-views BostonMountainsARSky-1000Clouds BreakClouds breaking away in Arkansas Day One of our journey took us south through Arkansas as an arctic blast chased us out of Missouri. Catching quite a bit of cold rain and windy conditions, we finally found bluer sky in Arkansas.

VanBurenARArkansasRiver-1000Arkansas RiverArkansas River at Van Buren

Across the Arkansas River into Fort Smith, we've made this trek before and didn't need to re-cover anything. But if you are in the area on your own journey, a must-see is Fort Smith National Historic Site. Read about it here

Fort Smith, AR - Commissary Store HouseFort Smith, AR - Commissary Store HouseFort Smith, Arkansas was founded in 1817 as a military post, but the Army abandoned the first Fort Smith in 1824. In 1838 the Army moved back into the old military post and expanded the base as part of the Indian Removal Policy. Today, it is a National Historic Site. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Entering Oklahoma, we start our trek through the Ouachita Mountains. Eastern Oklahoma is beautiful, especially in the Choctaw Nation. 

ChoctawNationChoctaw NationChoctaw Nation, Oklahoma (courtesy Google Maps An important tribe of the Muscogean family, the Choctaw formerly occupied the middle and south Mississippi River with their territory extending as far east as Florida in their most flourishing days. They trace their roots to a mound-building, maize-based society that flourished in the Mississippi River Valley for more than a thousand years before European contact. 

Today, they number nearly 200,000 strong. They operate business ventures, both in Mississippi and Oklahoma, in Gaming, Electronics, and Hospitality industries, while continuing to practice their language and cultural traditions. Read more about the Choctaw here

TalimenaScenicBywayOuachita National ForestOK-1000TalimenaScenicBywayOuachita National ForestOK-1000Scenic views through the Ouachita Mountains. We enjoyed the Scenic Byway as we made our way to Talimena State Park, which has a great little 10 spot RV park (must make reservations online), with concrete pads, water, and electric. Great for our first night on the road. Talimena State Park is 20 acres at the Oklahoma entrance to Talimena Scenic Drive, with opportunities for camping, hiking, biking, and wildlife watching. Beautiful here, but be aware this is a go-to destination for ATV's and Motorcycles, so it may be noisy depending on when you're here. Also, it is just off 271 at the top of a hill, so truck noise may be a factor.

TalimenaStPark-Camper1-1000TalimenaStPark-Camper1-1000Legends of America at Talimena State Park. Not traveling far today, as we move closer to Paris Texas. See you on the road!

(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arkansas Fort Oklahoma Park River scenic Smith State Talemina views https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/destination-talimena-scenic-views Fri, 05 Feb 2021 16:51:43 GMT
Winter 2021 Escape https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/winter-2021-escape Travel mapOn the road...Winter 2021All hitched up for a bit of sights and history on a 4,000+ mile road trip. We have our HearHere app to give us a bit of history of what's around us, and we're excited to share our journey. Stay tuned. All hitched up for a bit of sights and history on a 4,000+ mile road trip. We're excited to share our journey. Stay tuned.

(Legends of America Photo Prints) history photos travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2021/2/winter-2021-escape Thu, 04 Feb 2021 10:10:00 GMT
A Bit of the Rockies (August 2018) https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2019/8/a-bit-of-the-rockies-august-2018 In August 2018 we took a trip out to the Rocky Mountains to take in some ghost towns and history of Colorado.  

It's been a while since we've explored the Centennial State, and as usual, it didn't disappoint.

Rockies Sunset - Near HartselHartsel, CO - Rocky Mountain SunsetWe caught this sunset from a friends house between Hartsel and Buena Vista Colorado. What a view! Photo by Dave Alexander, August 2018.

We started the journey through parts of the Texas Panhandle to update our history along Route 66, including Conway Texas, a spot in the road that began as a small sheep and ranching community back in the 1800s.  Read more about Conway - Home of the Bug Ranch HERE

Conway, TX - Old CarConway, TX - Old CarPhoto by Dave Alexander, 2018. See all our stories of Texas Route 66 HERE.

As we made our way through Northeast New Mexico, Folsom provided some opportunity for history and picturesque views. 

Folsom, NM - Hotel SignFolsom, NM - Hotel SignPhoto by Dave Alexander. Be sure to see our updated Northeast New Mexico Photo Galleries

On to Colorado, we stopped at the ghost town of Ludlow and the Ludlow Massacre Monument, a tribute to those who lost their lives during the Colorado Coalfield War. 

Ludlow, CO - TownsiteLudlow, CO - TownsiteLudlow, Colorado Townsite by Dave Alexander, 2018.

Read about Ludlow HERE

See our Ludlow area gallery HERE

We made our way to a friends private cabin between Hartsel and Buena Vista Colorado, about 70 miles west of Colorado Springs where we would spend the next few days exploring. 

Clear Creek Canyon, north of Hartsel around Clear Creek Reservoir is home to several "ghost towns" from the regions mining heydays.  

Beaver City

Beaver, CO - 1880 CabinBeaver, CO - 1880 CabinOne of only two structures that remain in the ghost town of Beaver, Colorado in Clear Creek Canyon. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


Vicksburg CO - Fragile WagonVicksburg CO - Fragile Wagon"Please just look, I'm old and Fragile" at the Vicksburg Museum. Photo by Dave Alexander.


Rockdale, CO - Crescent Mining CampRockdale, CO - Crescent Mining CampNear the ghost town of Rockdale, the Crescent Mining Camp features restored cabins, some from the 1880's, in Clear Creek Canyon. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.


Winfield, CO - School MuseumWinfield, CO - School MuseumThe Winfield School is now a Museum. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Read more about the Ghosts of Clear Creek Canyon HERE

See our Clearcreek Canyon Ghosts Gallery HERE

In southern Park County Colorado, about 33 miles north of Canon City, just off Highway 9, Guffey is a ghost town with a twist of quirkiness, making for a fun visit.

Guffey, CO - Skeleton StagecoachGuffey, CO - Skeleton StagecoachSkeleton stagecoach in Guffey, Colorado. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Read Guffey Colorado - Quirky Mining Town

See our Guffey Gallery

Sitting on the side of Battle Mountain about 12 miles southeast of Avon, Colorado is the old company town of Gilman. The now-abandoned town was originally founded in 1886 by miners searching for silver, but later became a center of lead and zinc mining.

Gilman, CO - Company HousingGilman, CO - Company HousingGilman, Colorado company houses by Dave Alexander, 2018.

Read about Gilman HERE

See our Gilman-Red Cliff gallery HERE

It wasn't all ghost town adventures though. We made our way to Canon City to experience Skyline Drive

Canon City, CO - Skyline DriveCanon City, CO - Skyline DriveSkyline Drive in Canon City, Colorado. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Read about this thrilling 2.6mile road that provides unparalleled views of the area and a bit of adventure dating back to 1905 in our article Canon City Skyline Drive

There's much more about this area that we've written about before. 

See additional articles 

Cripple Creek - World's Greatest Gold Camp

Victor - City of Mines

Buckskin Joe - Gone but not Forgotten

St Elmo - Best Preserved Ghost Town

Leadville - Cloud City USA


On our way home, we stopped at the oddity that is the Genoa Wonder Tower

Genoa, CO - Wonder Tower Property TodayGenoa, CO - Wonder Tower Property 2018 Read about Genoa, Colorado and the roadside attraction Genoa Wonder Tower


Also see:

Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of Colorado

Colorado - The Centennial State


(Legends of America Photo Prints) Beaver City Canon City Skyline Drive Clear Creek Canyon Colorado Conway Folsom Ghost Towns Guffey History Ludlow New Mexico Rockdale Rocky Mountains Texas Route 66 Vicksburg Winfield https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2019/8/a-bit-of-the-rockies-august-2018 Thu, 01 Aug 2019 13:29:39 GMT
Texas Panhandle https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/8/texas-panhandle Texas Panhandle Plains - 2Texas Panhandle Plains - 2The Texas Panhandle Plains region is mostly flat, grassy land that are part of the Great Plains of the Central United States. Sometimes this land in the Texas Panhandle is also called the Llano Estacado or “Staked Plains.” Well, we're off on a family trip and it just so happens that both sides of the family live in the Texas Panhandle. So.......... from Missouri, we crossed Oklahoma, where we did just a little bit of Route 66 before making our way to our first family stop in Pampa, Texas. From there, we traveled to Amarillo, made a stop at the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas, and spent more time with family. Next morning we made our way to Palo Duro Canyon.

On the way back, we journeyed to Canadian, Texas -- beautiful scenery and a stop at the old wagon bridge over the Canadian River.  We then crossed northern Oklahoma making a stop at Pawnee Bill's Ranch in Pawnee, Oklahoma. A few more photo ops on Route 66 in eastern Oklahoma before we hit Missouri and anticipated Home Sweet Home.

The first photo opportunity we took advantage of was in Eastern Oklahoma with a small slice of Route 66.

Though all of the eight states along historic Route 66 display pride in ownership of their piece of the pavement, Oklahoma seems to do it the best. Perhaps that is as it should be, given that the Mother Road was born in Oklahoma when Cyrus Avery of Tulsa conceived of the idea to link Chicago all the way to Los Angeles. Moreover, Oklahoma has more miles of the original highway than any other state, they were the first to install historic markers along the old route, the first to have a state-sponsored Route 66 museum, and ironically, the first to lose part of the original road when I-44 barreled through, dealing a deathblow to many service businesses between Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Old Mobeetie, TX - BuildingsOld Mobeetie, TX - BuildingsBuildings in Old Mobeetie, Texas by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Afterwards, we made our way to Old Mobeetie, Texas which has a great history as an frontier town with such characters as Bat Masterson, buffalo hunters, and soldiers. This ghost town of today started as a buffalo camp in about 1874 and was called Hidetown. The next year, a fort was built nearby which brought in numerous people to the area and the settlement was renamed Sweetwater. By 1886, the town was in its heyday and included several merchandise stores, blacksmith shops, livery stables, law and real estate offices, nine saloons, a substantial rock school building and several church organizations.

That same year, a gunfight occurred at the Lady Gay Saloon, when a soldier from Fort Elliot was disgruntled with Bat Masterson. A black-haired beauty by the name of Mollie Brennan who jumped in front of Masterson was killed, saving Bat's life. But Masterson was still wounded in the leg, leading him to utilize his famous cane for the rest of his life. The soldier was left dead.

Mobeetie, TX - Cemetery Jack Rabbits - 2Mobeetie, TX - Cemetery Jack Rabbits - 2Large jack rabbits at the Mobeetie, Texas Cemetery by Dave Alexander. After visiting Old Mobeetie, we hunted down the cemetery where Mollie Brennan was one of the first to be buried. It is the oldest known grave yard in the Texas Panhandle with the oldest gravestone remaining dated 1882. Other burials include outlaws, accused horse thieves, those killed by an 1898 tornado, ladies of the evening, and famed Texas Ranger, Captain G.W. Arrington.

While we were there, we met two new friends - a couple of very large fearless jack rabbits. We could approach within just about 8 feet before they would hop away to another spot. Pictured here, Dave caught them resting in the little bit of shade cast by two tombstones.

Canyon, TX - Panhandle Plains Museum ChuckwagonCanyon, TX - Panhandle Plains Museum ChuckwagonDisplay at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. The next day we visited the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas. All in all, it was a decent museum, featuring a bunches of oil, a few cars, and a lot of frontier. But, for us, it was a little pricey at $10.00 per person, for which we would expect something like Frontier Texas at Abilene, or the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. They also don't allow any photography in the galleries, so we didn't see them. So, we give them a B-.

Our next historic stop was Palo Duro Canyon located less than a half hour drive south of Amarillo, Texas. Here is the mysterious terra cotta badlands, dubbed the "Grand Canyon of Texas". Coming off the staked plains of the Texas Panhandle, this 60-mile-long and 800-foot-deep canyon is a surprise among these treeless plains. Surrounded by miles of open land and endless skies, visitors are amazed at the towering cliffs, banded by a myriad of colors, and the amazing rock formations carved over millions of years by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.

Palo Duro Canyon, TX - Landscape - 3Palo Duro Canyon, TX - Landscape - 3Palo Duro Canyon, Texas Panhandle. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. The second largest canyon in the United States, the term "Palo Duro” means "hard wood” in Spanish, and was named by those first explorers for the canyon's abundant mesquite and juniper trees from which the Indians made their "hardwood" bows.

The canyon was first surveyed by a military team under the guidance of Captain Randolph B. Marcy in 1852. Though white settlers were beginning to migrate to the area, the canyon remained the lands of the Indians until a military expedition led by Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie was sent in 1874 to remove them to reservations in Oklahoma. This resulted in the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, the major skirmish of the Red River War. On September 28, 1874, Mackenzie led his Fourth United States Cavalry on an attack of the of Comanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne encamped in the canyon. Though the tribes had forewarning of the attack, their camps were scattered over a large area on the canyon floor and they were unable to assemble a united defense. The remaining Indians continued to fight in smaller skirmishes that autumn and winter, but in the end, the Indians were defeated and forced onto reservations in Indian Territory in 1875.

Canadian River 1916 Wagon BridgeCanadian, TX - Wagon Bridge - 2Canadian River 1916 Wagon Bridge On our way home we made a stop at the old wagon bridge in Canadian, Texas. This bridge, completed in 1916 was originally 2,635 feet long and was said to be the largest steel structure west of the Mississippi River at the time. In 1923 it fell victim to the raging waters of the Canadian River which cut a new channel around the north end of the bridge necessitating an extension on the north end, making it 3,255 feet in length. Many years later, it was closed and abandoned. However, it was renovated by interested citizens and reopened in 2,000. Today it is part of a new scenic hiking and biking trail over the Canadian River Valley. 

After staying the night at one of the worst campgrounds ever in central Oklahoma, we rose early to make our last stop at Pawnee Bill's Ranch in Pawnee, Oklahoma. The Pawnee Bill Ranch was once the showplace of the world-renowned Wild West Show entertainer Gordon W. "Pawnee Bill" Lillie. Visitors can tour Pawnee Bill and his wife May's fourteen-room mansion, fully furnished with their original belongings. Their dream home, completed in 1910, is filled with Lillie family memorabilia, photographs, original art work, and much more.

Pawnee, OK - Pawnee Bill Ranch Bison -2Pawnee, OK - Pawnee Bill Ranch Bison -2 The Ranch property also houses a museum with exhibits related to Pawnee Bill, the Wild West Shows, and the Pawnee tribe. The 500-acre grounds include the original Ranch blacksmith shop, a 1903 log cabin, a large barn built in 1926, and an Indian Flower Shrine—all available for the public to tour. A herd of bison, longhorn, and several draft horses call the Pawnee Bill Ranch home and can often be found grazing in the drive through exhibit pasture. 

And then, our whirl wind trip to Texas has come to an end and we are Home Sweet Home.


Kathy Weiser-Alexander






(Legends of America Photo Prints) canadian canyon mobeetie museum oklahoma old palo duro canyon panhandle panhandle-plains pawnee pawnee bill texas wagon bridge https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/8/texas-panhandle Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:26:45 GMT
That Time When...Walking the Streets of Tombstone https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/2/that-time-when-walking-the-streets-of-tombstone As part of our series "That Time When...", we take a look back at our 2007 journey to Tombstone, AZ, where we found more than just an Old West tourist destination. We found the Ghost Town Trail. 

We had stayed in Sierra Vista and decided to day-trip it out for adventure. Coming up Highway 90, then east on 82, first on our list was the ghost town of Fairbank. 

Fairbank, AZ - Adobe BuildingFairbank, AZ - Adobe BuildingOld commercial buildings in the ghost town of Fairbank, Arizona. They once held a post office, saloon and general store. Settled in the late 1870's, this town was first called Junction City, and at the time was a simple stage stop on the way to Tombstone. Later it would be renamed Kendall, before finally becoming Fairbank when it gained its post office in 1883.  We found the old adobe commercial building that once housed the post office, a saloon and general store. 

1920 Fairbank SchoolThis old school house now serves as a visitor's center and museum. The 1920 Fairbank School now serves as a visitors center and museum. The school served children through 1944, and the post office didn't close until the late 1970's. In 1987 the Bureau of Land Management took over the property and it became part of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area in November of 1988. The NCA has since stabilized, preserved and in some cases restored the old remaining buildings. 

Fairbank, AZ - HouseFairbank, AZ - House Read about the mining and railroad history of this neat little stop in our article Fairbank - Dead in the Desert

On to Tombstone, the Town too Tough to Die!

Tombstone, AZ - Allen Street TodayTombstone, AZ - Allen Street TodayThe famous silver-mining town of Tombstone, Arizona once had some 10,000 people and was the county seat. It was called "Tombstone" because it was feared that the Apache would kill anyone encroaching on the area. Today it is referred to as "The Town Too Tough to Die". Ed Schieffelin, a prospector, looked out on the mountains from where he stood at Camp Huachuca, commenting that the rich colors of the mountains looked like a promising place. A nearby soldier was quick to warn him that the area was controlled by Apache indians and said "All you'll find in those hills is your tombstone." Luckily for us, Schieffelin was a stubborn man. 

Tombstone, AZ - StreetTombstone, AZ - StreetTombstone, Arizona Street by Kathy Alexander. Tombstone was officially established in March of 1879 and quickly became a boom town with the promise of Silver Mining. Tombstone, AZ - StagecoachTombstone, AZ - StagecoachTombstone, Arizona Stagecoach by Kathy Alexander.

In fact, by the time Wyatt Earp arrived in December that year in hopes of establishing a stage line, he discovered the town already had two. So off to the gaming tables he went, as did many of the towns rowdy residents.  

Tombstone, AZ - Crystal PalaceTombstone, AZ - Crystal PalaceBuilt to attract the "finer" elements of Tombstone, the Crystal Palace Saloon provided shining crystal tableware, elegant deacor, the finest wines and spirits, and as many as five bartenders standing on duty to quickly serve their patrons around the clock. From the start, owner Wehrfritz also insisted on strictly honest games of chance. Though it was just one of 110 establishments licensed to sell liquor in the booming city, the new establishment soon attracted the most prominent businessmen. Open 24 hours a day, the Crystal Palace attracted everyone from the doctors, to lawyers to mining officials, as well as other hangers on wishing to rub elbows with the prominent, but would brook no funny business within its walls, protecting itself from the many bullet holes found in other lesser establishments in the community. The rich Old West history runs deep in this now tourist town. The post office, established shortly before the town was laid out, continues to operate to this day. The local Newspaper, the Tombstone Epitaph, is the oldest continually published paper in Arizona, and the infamous Allen Street has been restored to attract thousands of visitors from around the world each year. 

Tombstone, AZ - Big Nose KatesTombstone, AZ - Big Nose Kates We had a blast visiting Big Nose Kate's Saloon, a large and colorful cowboy bar that began life as the Grand Hotel in 1881. 

Tombstone, AZ - Birdcage TheatreTombstone, AZ - Birdcage TheatreThe famous Birdcage Theatre opened its doors on December 25, 1881 and for the next eight years would never close, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Also called the Bird Cage Opera House Saloon, the establishment featured a saloon, gambling parlour, theatre, and a brothel. In no time, the theatre gained a reputation as one of the wildest places in Tombstone, so bad that the few self-respecting women in town refused to even walk near the place. The New York Times reported in 1882, that "the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast". During the years that the theatre was open the wicked little place witnessed a number of gun and knife fights that took some 26 lives, and left 140 bullet holes in the ceilings, walls, and floors, many of which can still be seen today. The Bird Cage Theatre, an 1881 dance hall, gambling house, saloon, brothel and theatre provided a peak at history as it now serves as museum. The scene of twentysix deaths during its eight years in business, you can actually see the faro table that Doc Holliday once dealt cards among the many items that never left the building from the early days. 

Tombstone, AZ - Ok CorralTombstone, AZ - Ok CorralPhoto by Kathy Alexander. Although the O.K. Corral and Historama is not the actual site of the famous gun fight, you will enjoy the recreation of the past during a 30 minute tour, complete with films, animated figures and more. Next door is the 'corral', where you can enjoy the "gunfight". 

Tombstone, AZ - Boot Hill GraveyardTombstone, AZ - Boot Hill GraveyardOne of the most famous cemeteries in the country, Boot Hill Graveyard was originally platted on a slight hill just northwest of Tombstone in 1878 and called the "Tombstone Cemetery." It was used for all burials until 1884, when a new Cemetery was built at the end of Allen Street, when it then took on the name, the Old Cemetery. And of course no trip to Tombstone would be complete without a visit to Boot Hill Graveyard, the final resting place of such notables as the Clanton Gang, John Heath and others. 

For old west lovers, this is a must stop, and well worth the time spent walking the streets and soaking up the history. Re-enactments, characters and more abound to please audiences of all ages.  

Read about the incredible story of the Earps, Holliday, Big Nose Kate, the Clantons and more in our article "Tombstone - The Town Too Tough to Die."

Here's a slideshow of our visit, along with some other historical photographs. Continue reading below for information on the Ghost Town Trail. 


Ghost Towns: America's Lost World DVDA 5-Part Journey into Abandoned History, including appearances by Legends' own Kathy Weiser and Dave Alexander.

The Ghost Town Trail - Gleeson, Courtland & Pearce

On a dusty road winding out of Tombstone, we began an adventure on the Ghost Town Trail. 

Gleeson, AZ - HospitalGleeson, AZ - Hospital About 16 miles on the trail you run into Gleeson. The first mining camp here was called Turquoise when the post office opened in 1890, however the camp was short lived and the post office closed.  

Gleeson, AZ - JailGleeson, AZ - Jail However in 1900, John Gleeson arrived to begin mining again, and after finding copper, a new camp sprung up in his name and yet another post office was established, this time as Gleeson. 

Gleeson, AZ - RuinsGleeson, AZ - Ruins After the mining was done, the town was done as well, with the post office closing by 1939. Today the old settlement has numerous ruins, including an old hospital, saloon, dry good store, jail and mining remnants. 

After Gleeson, just about three and a half miles, you'll come to Courtland.

Courtland, AZ - RuinsCourtland, AZ - Ruins Although it got its start after Gleeson, it grew four times the size, although it has far fewer remains. Another mining town, Courtland was established around 1909. 

Courtland, AZ - JailCourtland, AZ - JailPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. The town once boasted a movie theatre, ice cream parlor, pool hall and swimming pool. Though it hung on through the Great Depression, its post office closed in 1942. Today most of what remains are ruins. 

Another 10 miles or so down the road found us in Pearce. 

Pearce, AZ - General StorePearce, AZ - General Store Founded by the discovery of Gold by Jimmie Pearce, the town was established in 1896.  Pearce, AZ - Post OfficePearce, AZ - Post Office The post office, closed in the late 1960's, is now a private residence, but the area has seen some rejuvenation. 

There's some rich old west history to be found in all three of these Arizona Ghost Towns.  Learn more in our article "The Ghost Town Trail - Gleeson, Courtland & Pearce."

Here's a slideshow of our trek on the Ghost Town Trail

See more about our time in Tombstone via our old travel blog HERE


Ghost Town Photo Prints for SalePrint's, canvas wraps and more from our Ghost Town galleries.


(Legends of America Photo Prints) Arizona Courtland Fairbank Ghost Towns Gleeson Pearce Tombstone history information photos prints travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/2/that-time-when-walking-the-streets-of-tombstone Sat, 25 Feb 2017 13:56:50 GMT
A Walk Through Our Nations Oldest City - St. Augustine https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/a-walk-through-our-nations-oldest-city-st-augustine Our primary destination for our 2017 Winter trip was St. Augustine, Florida, and I must say we were not disappointed. 

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos SkylineSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos SkylinePhoto by Kathy Alexander.

Looking at the skyline from the Castillo de San Marco, the oldest existing permanent seacoast fortification in the continental United States, over 400 years of history lay before our camera's lens.

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Interior WallSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Interior WallPhoto by Kathy Alexander.

Castillo de San Marco's existing walls have stood since the late 1690's, but even that is over a hundred years after the original fort was built, and the community of St. Augustine grew beside it. 

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos AerialSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos AerialThe Castillo De San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida. By the Historic American Buildings Survey. Made of coquina, a kind of stone that had been found near the coast on Anastasia Island, it replaced earlier wood forts as a formidable fortress to withstand the heaviest of attacks. It's walls are 12 feet thick around the inland portions, and 19 feet thick facing the harbor.  St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Bastion BirdsSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Bastion BirdsPhoto by Dave Alexander.

The fortress has switched hands several times over its long history, and for a long time, after Florida was sold to the U.S., was named Fort Marion. In 1924 it was designated a National Historic Monument, and was renamed back to Castillo de San Marco in 1942. 

St. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Soldier QuartersSt. Augustine, FL - Castillo de San Marcos Soldier QuartersPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. You'll enjoy the exhibits, walk through the living quarters, interact with the period re-enactors, and learn from National Park presentations during your visit. 

Read about the long history of the nation's oldest seacoast fortification, the Castillo de San Marcos HERE.

St. Augustine, FL - Large CrossSt. Augustine, FL - The Great CrossErected in 1965 to commemorate 400 years since the landing of Pedro Menendez de Aviles September 8, 1565, and the establishment of the Mission Nombres de Dios and city of St. Augustine.

The "Great Cross", built in 1965, stands over the grounds of the Mission Nombre de Dios to commemorate 400 years since Spanish Captain Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived on September 8, 1565 to establish the Mission and city. 

St. Augustine, FL - City GatesSt. Augustine, FL - City GatesPhoto by Dave Alexander.

We strolled through the city gates, the pillars of which were erected by residents in 1808. This is some of the last remaining wall that surrounded the community. In earlier days, it was the only way in and out of St. Augustine. 

St. Augustine, FL - St. George StreetSt. Augustine, FL - St. George StreetPhoto by Kathy Alexander. The streets are narrow and laid out in such a way as to bring in the ocean breeze to cool the city, as well as provide advantage during attack. 

St. Augustine, FL - St. George Street ShopsSt. Augustine, FL - St. George Street ShopsPhoto by Kathy Alexander. A walk down St. George street is a tourist delight. Boutiques, bistros, galleries and gift shops line the narrow path, some of them in original buildings.

St. Augustine, FL - St. George Street Bistro'sSt. Augustine, FL - St. George Street Bistro'sPhoto by Kathy Alexander. While we're not real estate experts, we would guess the rent is high in this heavily trafficked area of St. Augustine, so it's no surprise we found some of the best eateries of our entire journey on St. George Street. Being the frugal type, we passed up some real fancy dining, including restaurants established in the early 1900's, but SHOUT OUT to Pizza Time!  Ranked 2nd Best Pizza in the U.S. by Trip Advisor and absolutely delicious. Burrito Works Taco Shop nearby wasn't bad either. Don't worry, we ate at each on separate days :)

Time to walk off the food with more history nearby...

St. Augustine, FL - Cathedral BasilicaSt. Augustine, FL - Cathedral BasilicaThe Cathedral Basilica is the oldest church in Florida, constructed between 1793 and 1797. The church was established in 1565 with the founding of St. Augustine. After the shops on St. George Street, and walking past the Cathedral Basilica, constructed in the late 1700's, you will enter the Plaza de la Constitucion.

St. Augustine, FL - Plaza de la ConstitucionSt. Augustine, FL - Plaza de la ConstitucionThe oldest public square in America, the Plaza de la Constitucion, was laid out by Spanish Royal Ordinance in 1573. It features the Constitution Monument, which may the the only remaining Monument in the Western Hemisphere celebrating the Spanish Constitution of 1812. Photo by Kathy Alexander.

The oldest public square in America, the Plaza was laid out by Spanish Royal Ordinance in 1573. It features the Constitution Monument, which may the the only remaining Monument in the Western Hemisphere celebrating the Spanish Constitution of 1812.

St. Augustine, FL - Flagler CollegeSt. Augustine, FL - Flagler CollegeNamed for Henry Flagler, Flagler college use to be the Ponce de Leon Hotel, built by Flagler in 1888.

Not far from the Plaza you'll find the old Ponce de Leon Hotel, now Flagler College. Built by oil tycoon Henry Flagler in 1888, the Ponce de Leon was one of several hotels that Flagler owned, as part of his goal to make St. Augustine a Winter Haven. 

St. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian Church - 3St. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian Church - 3Henry Flagler had the Presbyterian church built in memorial to his daughter and granddaughter. Flagler had workers build around the clock to finish the church in a year. Flagler's mark on St. Augustine wasn't limited to Hotels.  He's also responsible for funding of several churches, including the Presbyterian Church, built in memorial to his Daughter and Granddaughter, who both died of illness shortly after birth. 

St. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian ChurchSt. Augustine, FL - Presbyterian ChurchPhoto by Kathy Alexander. We learned on our tour of the city that Flagler made an arrangement with all the other town churches that the Presbyterian Church would be the only one to ring a bell. Considering his sizeable impact on the city they obliged. 

Learn more about the impact the Spanish, and later Henry Flagler made on this historic city.. Read St. Augustine - Oldest U.S. City Here.

St. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Match Stick Space StationSt. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Match Stick Space StationPhoto by Kathy Alexander. In addition to the city's great history, you'll find more fun and entertainment for the entire family at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditiorium. Visitors will marvel at exhibits like this space station model made entirely of matchsticks. 

St. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Shrunken HeadSt. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Museum Shrunken HeadPhoto by Kathy Alexander. This actual shrunken head was part of Robert Ripley's original collection of oddities that made him famous worldwide. This isn't just any "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" museum -- this is the first permanent Odditorium started by the Ripley family just a year after Robert Ripley died. 

St. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Believe it or Not MuseumSt. Augustine, FL - Ripleys Believe it or Not MuseumPhoto by Kathy Alexander. Even the building has an interesting history, starting as the winter "Castle" of William G. Warden in 1887, then a decade as the Castle Warden Hotel, before becoming the museum. 

Read more about the history of the Warden Winter Home and Robert L. Ripley in our article Ripley's Original Odditorium Here.

St. Augustine, FL - Colonial Quarter GudeSt. Augustine, FL - Colonial Quarter GudePhoto by Kathy Alexander. We also took an excellent guided tour of Colonial Quarter, a living history outdoor museum depicting life in St. Augustine over three centuries. 

St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 2St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 2Photo by Kathy Alexander. Next door we toured St. Augustine's Pirate and Treasure Museum, which includes items used in several movies, like Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean.  

St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 4St. Augustine, FL - Pirate Museum - 4Photo by Kathy Alexander. This isn't just any Pirate Museum either -- it houses the largest authentic collection of pirate artifacts in the world. 

See more about Colonial Quarter on their website here

See more about the Pirate and Treasure Museum via their website here

St. Augustine, FL - Red Train TrolleySt. Augustine, FL - Red Train TrolleyRipley's Red Train Tour is a 90 minute ride through St. Augustine's more notable historic and entertaining attractions. The trolley stops at many places, allowing you to hop on and off as another one comes to each stop every 20 minutes. Worth your time and money is the Red Train Tour offered by Ripley's. This trolley stops at many locations around the city as the driver gives interesting tidbits on the history of St. Augustine. The entire ride is about 90 minutes, however it stops at several places along the way, allowing riders to hop on and off, with another trolley coming by every 20 minutes. 

Find out more about the Red Train Tours via their website here

St. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm SignSt. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm SignAlligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida. Photo by Kathy Alexander. Finally, before we left we had to catch the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park on Anastasia Island.

St. Augustine, FL - Alligator FarmSt. Augustine, FL - Alligator FarmAlligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida. Photo by Kathy Alexander. The Park, established in 1893, began as a small collection of Florida Reptiles, and now serves as a modern zoo, providing important research and conservation efforts, in addition to just being a fun and informative stop. 

St. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm TurtleSt. Augustine, FL - Alligator Farm TurtleAlligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida. Photo by Dave Alexander. No visit to St. Augustine is complete without a visit to this fun place.  Read our article on the long history of St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park Here.


We also produced a video from our time here in St. Augustine that includes more about the history and a few other extra's. 

In addition, here's our St. Augustine Slideshow

There are many sites we didn't get to during our visit, so make sure to plan some quality time in St. Augustine. We would suggest the winter months if possible, not only to avoid the major crowds during tourist season, but also the Florida heat during the summer months. 

We want to thank Ripley's Believe It or Not!, Colonial Quarter, Pirate & Treasure Museum, Ripley's Red Train Tours, the Alligator Farm Zoological Park, and the Lightner Museum (sorry we didn't make it). Each helped out tremendously during our tours and gave a warm Florida welcome. 

During our time in this portion of our journey, we stayed about 40 miles away from St. Augustine next to the town of Crescent City in Sned Acres RV Park. We'll give this park a 4 out of 5 on RV Park Reviews. Good location for the price (New monthly rate of $350 plus electric, which was very reasonable) Good facilities and close to store. Wifi had issues while we were there, but we understand things will likely change in that department this year. Friendly staff. Would stay there again. Ps. Since we were there in January, didn't have a chance to use the pool, but we can imagine it being packed in the summer months. 

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From Mardi Gras to Seaside Defense - Our Journey along the Gulf Coast https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/from-mardi-gras-to-seaside-defense---our-journey-along-the-gulf-coast After a drenching in Texas, we had a brief reprieve in Lake Charles, Louisiana as we continued our journey along the Gulf Coast. Time enough to make a short trip south of the city and stretch our legs on Holly Beach to enjoy a little sun. Sun we hadn't seen since Goliad

Holly Beach, LA - Play TimeHolly Beach, LA - Play Time"No leashes?! No Rain?! Beach!!? We're Free, We're Free!!!!"

We also discovered that Lake Charles has the second largest Mardi Gras Celebration in the United States. So we paid a visit to the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu to find out more. Here's our video of the visit. 

We had a great time at the Museum and want to give a big thanks to David Faulk for the tour. If you would like to find out more about the museum, you can see their website HERE

Read about the fascinating history of Mardi Gras in the U.S., and see our Mardi Gras Slide Show in our article HERE

After time with our friend Ann (thanks for the use of your driveway), we pushed out of Lake Charles to begin our exploration of historic forts along the coast. 

Fort Morgan

Gulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan EntryGulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan EntryAbove the entry tunnel into the sea fortress of Fort Morgan.

First established as Fort Bowyer during the War of 1812, the strategic location on the coast of Alabama, some 20 miles west of Gulf Shores, proved advantageous for America as the British suffered a humiliating defeat here. Construction on a new fortress began in 1819, and years later, in 1833, it was named Fort Morgan before being completed the next year. 

Gulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan TunnelsGulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan TunnelsInside the walls of Fort Morgan. Standing guard where the bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, the fort played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay in August, 1864 during the Civil War.  Falling into Union Hands, it was used it as a base for reconnaissance raids, and then as a staging area for the Battle of Spanish Fort and the Battle of Fort Blakely, which occurred days before General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

Gulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan - CannonGulf Shores, AL - Fort Morgan - CannonPhoto by Dave Alexander. Read about the history of the Fort Morgan National Historic Site Here

This is worth a stop and price of admission, but our relationship with Mother Nature was still on the rocks as the Alabama coast was experiencing an unusual bitter cold blast with enough wind to numb your nose while we were there. If it had been a nice day, there's a ferry just outside the fort grounds that we could have taken over to historic Fort Gaines, but not this day. We also missed historic Fort Conde in Mobile due to rain. Still, we captured the moment at Fort Morgan.


Fort Barrancas 

Pensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas Spanish Water BatteryPensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas Spanish Water Battery

Fort Barrancas was built on the site of numerous previous forts, including Fort San Carlos de Austria, which was constructed by the Spanish in 1698. The British used this site as a harbor fortification, building the Royal Navy Redoubt in 1763.

Pensacola, Fl - Fort Barrancas EntrywayPensacola, Fl - Fort Barrancas Entryway During the War of 1812 between the United States and the England, the fort was the scene of the American victory at the Battle of Pensacola in 1814. When the United States purchased Florida from Spain in 1821 the U.S. Navy selected Pensacola Bay as the site for a United States Navy Yard.

Pensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas CannonPensacola, FL - Fort Barrancas Cannon Fort Barrancas was deactivated in 1947. The U.S. Navy then incorporated the site into Naval Air Station Pensacola. In 1971, Congress authorized the establishment of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which included Fort Barrancas National Historic Site. After a $1.2 million restoration, Fort Barrancas was opened to the public in 1980.

Fort Barrancas is located on the Naval Air Station in Pensacola but they are both managed as historic properties by the National Park Service. Access to Naval Air Station Pensacola by non-Department of Defense affiliated personnel may be subject to homeland security and military force protection concerns. Oh, and make sure you go to the right entrance.  We got a little lost trying to find our way in.... you want the West Entrance to the base. Take my word, don't go to the East entrance..unless you belong there of course. 

On the way in to see the historic Fort, stop in at the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, established in 1859.  

The Lighthouse overlooks three historic forts and the historic Naval Yard, and provides some spectacular views. Just across the street you'll find the National Naval Aviation Museum, the largest Naval Aviation Museum in the world and the most visited in Florida. Historic Fort Barrancas is right around the corner from the museum. 

For more about Fort Barrancas and the area, read about it HERE. 

Also read more about Florida's Maritime History HERE

During our travels we were spending quite a bit of time in the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Stretching for miles along the southern coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and the northwestern corner of Florida, this National Seashore helps tell the story of the development of the United States as an independent nation.  

Read more about the Gulf Islands National Seashore HERE.

There was plenty we didn't see and do, and at some point we'll need to come back to this area and explore more. Additional heavy rains changed a few of our plans again, however, by the time we got further into Florida, we made peace with Mother Nature.  On our last stop before our primary destination of Crescent City, we sighed a bit of relief and enjoyed the Sunset of this leg of our journey. 

Keaton Beach. FL - SunsetKeaton Beach, FL - SunsetPhoto by Dave Alexander. During this portion of our Journey, we stayed at: 

Pass Christian RV Park (Pass Christian, MS) - We gave this overnight stay 4 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews, primarily for friendliness. No wifi here, and a bit off the beaten track, but a pleasant overnighter.  (P.S. Don't believe your Tom Tom for directions here, unless of course you want a scenic tour of a neighborhood before coming back out only to turn just a few hundred feet into the park). 

Foley Sunchase RV Park (Foley, AL) - We stayed 3 nights at this one while exploring history and gave it 3 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews. To be fair, the manager we dealt with indicated he wasn't there much longer, and I would say that's a good thing as he was a bit odd (roaming around the outside of the trailer when he thought we weren't there, having his dog piss on our truck, etc).  Great new Community building and lots of planned activities, and overall great people, including who I believe was the incoming new manager ready to take creepazoid's place.  Wifi had issues due to a recent storm, but otherwise would be adequate, with the typical exception of peak traffic times. 

Old Pavilion RV Park (Keaton Beach, FL) - We stayed overnight before pushing on to our month long stay in Crescent City.  Gave it 3 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews.  Mostly sandy sites right by the beach, although the beach seemed a little unkept. Also noticed standing water smells and a tinge of sewer, however it did look like they were working on something while we were there. Location is the key on this park (Sunset photo above taken from a campsite we weren't on). Hard to find the office, but the owners were really nice. Couldn't attach to their wifi during our brief stay. 


(Legends of America Photo Prints) Fort Barrancas Fort Morgan Lake Charles Mardi Gras Museum Pensacola Lighthouse historic gulf coast forts photo video https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/from-mardi-gras-to-seaside-defense---our-journey-along-the-gulf-coast Sat, 14 Jan 2017 16:12:21 GMT
Black Gold of Beaumont https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/black-gold-of-beaumont After moving on from our adventure in Goliad County, we went in search of Black Gold, Texas Tea...Oil that is.  First though, we decided to take a side trip down to the lost city of Indianola.

Indanola, TX - StreetIndanola, TX - StreetOnce one of the most important settlements on the Texas Coast, Indianola suffered severe Hurricanes and tropical storms before becoming a ghost town in the late 1800's. Now only a few call the settlement home. Once one of the most important Texas ports along the Gulf of Mexico, the settlement was established in 1846 as Indian Point. Stage coach service began in 1848 as it became firmly established as a deep-water port. Soon, it was the chief port through which European and American immigrants flowed into western Texas.

Indanola, TX - OceanIndanola, TX - OceanOcean in Indianola, Texas.

Indianola Texas in the 1800's As Indian Point began to grow and merge with the nearby settlement of Karlshaven, the two towns became one and changed its name to Indianola in February, 1849. With its rapid growth, the town soon expanded three miles down the beach to Powderhorn Bayou when Indianola was chosen as the terminus to Charles Morgan’s New York-based steamship line.

In 1852 Indianola was made the Calhoun County seat, and at its peak had around 2,000 residents, but in 1875 it was practically wiped off the coast in a Hurricane. Another storm in 1886 would be the death knell of the city and the county seat was moved.

Today there is a chunk of granite from the original courthouse along the coastline

Calhoun County Courthouse GraniteOne of the few remaining remnants of the original Indianola is this chunk of granite put here as a monument from the original Calhoun County Courthouse. . It's inscription reads: 

Calhoun County Courthouse
Edward Beaumont Architect 1859
During the Storms of 1875 and 1886
precious lives were saved within its walls
of shell, concrete and lime.
Abandoned 1886

You can read more about Indianola HERE.

After a windy time in Indianola, we pushed our way to Galveston Island for a quick pass through on our way to find Oil.

Galveston, TX - Pleasure PierGalveston, TX - Pleasure PierAmusement on the Pier on Galveston Island Galveston, TX - Pleasure Pier - 2Galveston, TX - Pleasure Pier - 2 Sorry folks, no time to stop and explore in Galveston Island, but you can check out our little Galveston Photo Collection HERE.

Our primary destination for this portion of our journey was Beaumont, a city built by fortunes in Oil. Unfortunately, our timing for staying here on New Years weekend wasn't ideal as Mother Nature provided her own "gusher" and washed out many of our plans. However that didn't stop us from paying a visit to some pretty cool museums, including the Texas Energy Museum in downtown Beaumont. 

Beaumont, TX - Energy MuseumBeaumont, TX - Energy Museum The Texas Energy Museum opened in 1990 in the downtown district, and explores the history, various equipment used, and companies associated with the Texas Oil Boom of the early 1900's.

Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Western Co. Miss 101Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Western Co. Miss 101"Miss 101", the symbol of the Western Company, serviced areas of Texas from 1939 to 1948. Exhibits and videos walk you through the timeline of Texas Oil, and explain how the various products are gathered from the area's many Oil Refineries.

Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - NeonSignBeaumont, TX - Energy Museum - NeonSign

Captain Anthony F. Lucas You'll really enjoy the animated exhibits with talking characters, including Patillo Higgins and Captain Anthony F. Lucas, and their roles in the nation's first big oil gusher at Spindletop, the Lucas Gusher. The characters tell the tale of how Higgins was mocked for insisting large amounts of Oil were just waiting to be found here, and how Lucas prevailed in finding it.

The Lucas Gusher began the boom for Beaumont, which grew from around 8,500 residents to 30,000 in just three months. 

The boom would also leave a lasting impact on the U.S., bringing in the nation's industrial age and spawning some of the most successful oil companies.

Beaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Texaco TruckBeaumont, TX - Energy Museum - Texaco Truck

You can read more about the Texas Energy Museum HERE

Once the rain stopped, we ventured on to Gladys City Boomtown Museum

Beaumont, TX - Boomtown MuseumBeaumont, TX - Gladys City Boomtown Museum A continuation of our education on the Lucas Gusher at Spindletop, this is a replica of what the old town of Gladys City might have been. The museum complex was built in in 1976 through the combined efforts of the Lucas Gusher Monument Association, the Heritage Committee, the Southeast Texas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and Lamar University. 

Beaumont, TX - Boomtown Museum BoardwalkBeaumont, TX - Boomtown Museum Boardwalk It's a fascinating look at the beginnings of the Texas Oil Boom in 1901 and how Gladys City and Beaumont were ground zero for building America into a true Super Power.

Read the incredible tale of fortune of Gladys City and the Spindletop Gusher HERE

We missed a lot in Beaumont due to the holiday weekend and pouring rain, but there is plenty to see and do here. From historic homes to wonderful family entertainment, learn about the attractions that make this historic city a must see in South Texas. Visit the Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau's Things To Do. They were most excellent hosts and welcomed us Texas Style. 

Here's a peek at more of Beaumont including the museums we visited

On our way to Beaumont, we stayed at a really nice RV Park in Bay City, Texas. 60 North RV Park is a great stop for RV'ers passing through or spending time in the area and we would put this one above all others in Bay City.  We gave them 4.5 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews.

In Beaumont we stayed at Gulf Coast RV Resort, another excellent choice for spending time exploring the rich history around the city.  They even served up a continental breakfast, had private showers and a fitness room (not that we used it LOL). We gave them 4.5 out of 5 stars on RV Park Reviews, however I would note that this place practically turned into a marshland after about 2 inches of rain. Thankful for concrete pads! 

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Exploring Deep Texas History in Goliad https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/exploring-deep-texas-history-in-goliad We're starting the new year doing what we like most, exploring history. And here in South Texas, there's plenty of it. Our primary destination for this part of our trip took us to Goliad County, but of course we found a gem or two along the way, like the old town of Dime Box. 


Dime Box, TX - ChattingDime Box, TX - ChattingA lazy afternoon finds locals outside the barber shop chatting it up in Dime Box, Tx.

The town started a few miles away as a sawmill built by settler Joseph Brown sometime in the early 1870s. Known as Brown's Mill, local residents would put their outgoing mail in a box in Brown's office, along with a dime, for weekly delivery to Giddings, twelve miles to the southwest. An official post office was opened in 1877 but was closed for a short while in December of 1883.  After it reopened that next spring, confusion between the town's name of Brown's Mill and another Texas city, Brownsville, led the small community to rename itself Dime Box. 


Dime Box, TX - Dusty CarDime Box, TX - Dusty CarA dusty old classic sits under a false promise of ice cream in the hot Texas Hill Country.

The town moved three miles to its location on what is now farm road 141 after the Southern Pacific Railroad built a line in 1913. The original location, on State Highway 21, is now called Old Dime Box.  At its peak, Dime Box had about 500 residents and today continues to be a laid-back, unincorporated, small Texas town full of charm and memories with a population of around 300.

See more of Texas Hill Country in our galleries here.

After passing through Giddings, burial place of vicious gunslinger Bill Longley, we pressed on to our destination of Goliad. Our first stop was between Victoria and Goliad, just off U.S. 59 (future I-69 at the time of this writing) at the site of the Battle of Coleto.


Fannin, TX - Battlefield SignFannin, TX - Battlefield SignEntry to the Fannin Battleground State Historic Site, commemorating the Battle of Coleto in March of 1836 which led to the Goliad Massacre.

After the fall of the Alamo in March of 1836 during Texas' bid for independence from Mexico, General Sam Houston ordered Colonel James Walker Fannin and his 400 men to retreat from the Presidio La Bahia at Goliad to Victoria.  On March 19, during their retreat, Fannin and his men were overtaken by a large Mexican force near Coleto Creek.  


Fannin, TX - BattlefieldFannin, TX - Battlefield

After making a valiant stand, the remaining Texan's surrendered, believing they would be treated as prisoners of war of a civilized nation. Instead, they were taken back to the Presidio La Bahia, and on Palm Sunday, March 27, most were slaughtered in what is now known as the Goliad Massacre.  Some escaped and a few were spared after a Mexican woman known as the "Angel of Goliad" convinced a Mexican Colonel not to kill approximately 20 captives, including two doctors, along with orderlies and interpreters. In the end, between the battle and the massacre, almost 350 Texan's perished. With the defeat at the Alamo fresh on their minds, and the atrocity of Goliad, Texan resistance against Mexico was hardened and led to the battle cry "Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad" (also "Remember La Bahia").

Goliad, TX - Fannin GraveGoliad, TX - Fannin Grave

In May, the Texan army would return to Goliad, and under the direction of General Thomas Rusk, would gather the bones of the men slaughtered by the Mexican Army.  On June 3, 1836, the bones were carried in procession from the Presidio La Bahia and given a military funeral. Today the grave is marked by the Fannin Monument close to the Presidio.  

Read more about the Battle of Coleto and the Goliad Massacre Here.

The Presidio La Bahia is the military fortress built by the Spanish to protect Missions in South Texas, including Mission Espiritu Santo just across the San Antonio River.


Goliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto ChapelGoliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto ChapelInside the grounds of the Presidio La Bahia looking toward the chapel.

There is a rich history here dating back to the 1700s, and several flags have flown over the Presidio as the land changed hands during various conflicts, including its crucial role during the Texas Revolution.


Goliad, TX - MissionEspirtuSanto-flagsGoliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia FlagsSeveral flags have flown over the Presidio La Bahia since it was established in 1749.


As both a State and national landmark, Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahía and its chapel are now a popular attraction. The Chapel of Our Lady of Loreto is one of the oldest extant churches in the United States and has been continually operated by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria, Texas since 1853. 


Goliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto Chapel InteriorGoliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Loreto Chapel Interior

The Presidio de la Bahia also houses a history museum within the old officers' quarters. The museum offers exhibits, artifacts, and an award-winning documentary movie. Another favorite is the annual living history program, a series of reenactments that takes place each March to mark the tragic events of 1836. 


Goliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Roof - 2Goliad, TX - Presidio La Bahia Roof - 2Photo by Dave Alexander.

Today the military compound, including the chapel, has been carefully restored to its 1836 appearance and is an important reminder of the influence of Spanish and Mexican culture on the United States. 

Right beside the Presidio, you'll find the birthplace of General Ignacio Zaragoza. General Zaragoza assumed command of the rag-tag Mexican Army and welded it into a staunch fighting force, which met and defeated the French on May 5, 1862, in the Battle of Puebla, against Napoleon III's invading army (now celebrated as Cinco de Mayo in both the U.S. and Mexico).

Read more about the Presidio de la Bahia, also known as Fort Goliad, Here.

Coming out of Goliad, just before crossing the river and reaching the Presidio, be sure to stop in at Goliad State Park, home to the reconstructed Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga, also known as Aranama Mission or Mission La Bahia. 


Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu SantoGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo

The Mission, established by the Spanish in 1722 on Matagorda Bay, moved here in 1749. Educating and serving the tribes of the Aranama, Piguique, Manos de Perro, Tamique, Tawakoni, and Tonkawa to great success proved destructive for the tribes' traditional way of life. In return for food, shelter, and protection from more aggressive tribes, they agreed to live in the mission and follow its discipline and religion, which resulted in the gradual erosion and eventual destruction of their traditional tribal culture.


Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Warehouse Interior - 2Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Warehouse Interior - 2Photo by Dave Alexander.

By the 1830s most of the Christianized Indians had left and the mission which was facing opposition from raiding Apache and Comanche. These conditions coupled with a lack of money and political turmoil in Texas forced the mission to close in 1830.


Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo RooflineGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo Roofline

The mission itself became part of the City of Goliad and the old mission's stones were allowed to be removed and used for local construction. 


Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Wall DetailGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Wall DetailFound over one of the side doors into the Mission. The skull and crossbones are common at old Spanish Missions, indicating the grounds act as a cemetery, in which many of the markers of wood crosses have been lost in time.

The mission ruins became part of the newly created Goliad State Park in 1931. In 1933, the Civil Works Administration with funds provided by the Works Progress Administration began reconstruction of the stone chapel and granary, which were completed in 1941. Additional construction in the 1960s and 1980s brought the mission back to its 1749 appearance. During the 1970s, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rehabilitated the chapel and built exhibits in the restored granary.


Goliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - WarehouseGoliad, TX - Mission Espirtu Santo - Warehouse


Read more about Mission Espiritu Santo HERE. 

The community that grew around the Presidio and Mission was originally known as La Bahia.  In 1829 the name was changed to Goliad, believed to be an anagram of Hidalgo, minus the "H".


Goliad, TX - DowntownGoliad, TX - Downtown


The history beyond Spanish and Mexican control includes the fact that Texas gunfighter John King Fisher once lived here. In fact, he was arrested for breaking into a house before moving on. 

The existing Goliad County Courthouse, erected in 1894 and later expanded, is on the National Register of Historic Places. 


Goliad, TX - County Courthouse Clock TowerGoliad, TX - County Courthouse Clock TowerPhoto by Dave Alexander.

You'll also find the Hanging Tree on the Courthouse grounds, where court sessions between 1846 and 1870 were held.  Death penalties were carried out immediately back then. 


Goliad, TX - Coffins & CasketsGoliad, TX - Coffins & CasketsPhoto by Dave Alexander.

Besides its troubled times during wars, the city of Goliad suffered greatly in 1902 when a devastating tornado killed 114, including then sheriff Robert Shaw. It's tied as the deadliest twister in Texas History and is currently (2017) the nation's 10th deadliest on record. 

We greatly enjoyed our stay in one of the oldest Counties in Texas, and encourage everyone with a love of early American History to visit Goliad.  

During our time in Goliad, we stayed at the Angels of Goliad RV Park. We gave it 4.5 stars on RV Park Reviews and would recommend it to any traveler coming to see the rich history. 


Here are some more images from our adventure in Goliad. All are available for prints and downloads HERE

(Legends of America Photo Prints) Fannin Battle Field Goliad Goliad State Park history massacre missions photos Presidio La Bahia texas travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2017/1/exploring-deep-texas-history-in-goliad Mon, 02 Jan 2017 14:59:34 GMT
That time when... Our Visit to Sego Canyon Utah https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/11/that-time-when-our-visit-to-sego-canyon-utah [A look back at our 2008 visit to Utah, and Sego Canyon, including the ghost town of Sego, in the fourth of our series "That time when.." a revisit to some of our favorites over the past]

In April of 2008 we drove up from Nevada into Utah for a swing through the southeastern portions of the state, going through what seemed to be endless changing landscapes and one National Park after another.  After making it up to I-70, and stumbling upon the ghost town of Thompson Springs, we made a small jaunt north on State Highway 94/BLM159, along Thompson Wash to Sego Canyon Rd (BLM160).  Here we found ancient rock art by the side of the road that dates back hundreds of years to the Fremont culture.  

Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 2Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 2Petroglyphs dating back hundreds of years still visible near the ghost town of Sego, UT.

The Fremont culture, a contemporary of the Anasazi, thrived from 600 A.D. to 1250.  There is also rock art from around 1300 A.D from the Ute tribe

Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 3Sego Canyon, UT - Petroglyphs - 3Petroglyphs near Sego, UT

Unfortunately, although preservation efforts are made, there is quite a bit of graffiti and damage to the art done over the past couple of centuries. However there's plenty to see and a great reminder of just how long this continent has been inhabited.  Some of the art found in Utah dates back to the Archaic period from around 7000 B.C.

Heading north on Sego Canyon Road, we came upon Sego's Old cemetery, with the ghost town another mile or so up the canyon.

Sego, UT - Town View, 1920Sego, UT - Town View, 1920Town view in 1920 Sego started as a community in the 1890's when Harry Ballard discovered coal on land next to his ranch. Mining operations soon started and a town sprang up, originally called Ballard. As news spread of the high quality coal there, Salt Lake City businessman B.F. Bauer bought out Ballards property and formed the American Fuel Company. 

One of the more prominent structures you'll find here is the old Company Store dating back to 1911. 

Sego, UT - Company StoreSego, UT - Company StoreSego Company store built in 1911.

Around the same time the company store was built, the settlement was renamed to Neslin after the company's general manager Richard Neslin. In 1914 rail lines were brought to the coal camp, which brought its own issues as railroad spur trains were often off their tracks. 

Sego, UT - Railroad BridgeSego, UT - Railroad Bridge Not happy with profits, Bauer fired Neslin in 1916, changed the name of the company to Chesterfield, and renamed the town again, this time after the state flower, Sego. During our visit here in 2008, the old American Boarding House, built in the early 1900's, appeared to be on it's way to complete ruin. 

Sego, UT - Boarding House - 3Sego, UT - Boarding House - 3American Boarding House as seen in 2008, is now just a pile of kindling. We were told by a reader in 2011 that this building is now just a pile of kindling.  In addition to crumbling houses, we also found the old Powder House nearby.

Sego, UT - Powder HouseSego, UT - Powder HouseThanks to Legends' reader Gwen Korfus who confirmed this was the powder house in Sego. Gwen's mother lived as a child in the boarding house nearby. Sego became an official ghost town in the mid 1950's, and in 1973 most of it burned to the ground. You can read more about the interesting history of Sego Canyon and the ghost town of Sego HERE.

We recommend high clearance vehicles to visit the ruins and take extra caution during and after heavy rains as flash floods are common here. 

Here are more of the sights we found around Sego in 2008. 


(Legends of America Photo Prints) American Fuel Company Ballard Chesterfield Company Fremont Neslin Photos Sego Ute about ancient rock art camp coal mining ghost town history petroglyphs ruins https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/11/that-time-when-our-visit-to-sego-canyon-utah Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:10:50 GMT
That time when... Our Visit to Shakespeare https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/8/that-time-when-our-visit-to-shakespeare [This is the third in our series "That time when..." a look back at our favorite travels through history since 2003.]

In March of 2008 we took a trip to southern New Mexico to visit some history. Shakespeare alone was worth the trip. 

Shakespeare, NM - Town ViewShakespeare, NM - Town ViewOriginally called Ralston, the town was established somewhere around 1870. Today tourists can relive some of the old west in this privately owned ghost town of Shakespeare. This mining settlement got its start as Ralston around 1870, with glowing accounts given of the richness of the silver mines. 

Shakespeare, NM - Chuck Wagon - 2Shakespeare, NM - Chuck WagonA chuck wagon on display in Shakespeare brings back its Old West days.

During the early years, Ralston boomed big, with some reports of up to 3,000 here looking to strike it rich. However, the towns namesake, William Ralston, would lose credibility with his involvement in the Great Diamond Hoax of 1871, and by 1873 there were only a few people left. By the late 1870's Ralston was a ghost town for the first time. 

Shakespeare, NM - WindowShakespeare, NM - WindowView of the landscape from within a building at Shakespeare. Then in 1879, Colonel Boyle of St. Louis staked a number of claims under the name of the Shakespeare Mining Company and renamed the settlement. Mining was once again in full force, but the town never settled so much as to gain a school, church or newspaper. 

Shakespeare, NM - Perry E Borchers HomeShakespeare, NM - Perry E Borchers Home As for the law, it would primarily be handled by the citizens, with some offenders hanged by the timbers of the Grant House Dining Room. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant Hotel Dining RoomShakespeare, NM - Grant Hotel Dining RoomInside the Grant House Dining room, hanging ropes dangle from the ceiling testifying to a more violent past. February, 2008, Kathy Weiser-Alexander. When the railroad bypassed Shakespeare in the 1880's, favoring Lordsburg instead, the town once again began to decline. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant House InteriorShakespeare, NM - Grant House Interior Although there was a brief resurgence in mining in the early 1900's, it was not enough to save Shakespeare, and it became a ghost town for the second time. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant House and SaloonShakespeare, NM - Grant House and SaloonThe Grant House on the right and saloon on the left. The back portion of the Grant House once held the stage station. The front dining room sometimes served as the hanging room. February, 2008, Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Taken over as part of a working ranch by the Hill family in 1935, Janaloo Hill did a lot of work to keep the history alive in the 1970's, with the town being listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. In 1984 she married Manny Hough, who helped her maintain the site. She passed away in 2005, but to this day Manny continues her work in Shakespeare.  

Today the town can be toured on the weekends, but be sure to check their website for exact information HERE

Read more about the interesting history, some of which conflicts with the legends told about Shakespeare, in our full article HERE

In the meantime, enjoy the views of Ralston/Shakespeare from our 2008 visit

(Legends of America Photo Prints) Ralston Shakespeare about blog ghost town information new mexico old west photos https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/8/that-time-when-our-visit-to-shakespeare Mon, 08 Aug 2016 15:03:56 GMT
Split Rock - More than Just a Lighthouse https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/split-rock-more-than-just-a-lighthouse It's been the subject of a stamp, featured in film, notable photography and postcards. It's also one of Minnesota's best known landmarks.

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock LighthouseLake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Yet Split Rock Lighthouse, southwest of Silver Bay on the North Shore of Lake Superior, is best recognized for it's service saving ships on Lake Superior. In the early 1900's, Iron Ore shipments on the lake were increasing dramatically.

Two Harbors, MN - Ore DockTwo Harbors, MN - Ore DockOre Dock in Two Harbors, down the road from Split Rock Lighthouse U.S. Steel Corporation dominated the business with 112 steel freighters. On November 28, 1905 a strong gale, known as the Mataafa Storm, damaged 29 ships, of which a third owned by U.S. Steel were uninsured.  Two of the ships hit the rocks here, one of which still lies on the bottom of the lake just north of Split Rock. 

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock ViewLake Superior, MN - Split Rock ViewView from Split Rock Lighthouse along the shoreline of Lake Superior. With lobby from company officials, Congress appropriated $75,000 to build the lighthouse, other buildings and land. Construction was was completed in 1910 by the United States Lighthouse Service.

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Keepers HomesLake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Keepers Homes Run by the U.S. Lighthouse Service until 1939 when the Coast Guard took over, Split Rock was decommissioned in 1969 when modern navigational equipment made it obsolete. 

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse - 3Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock Lighthouse Minnesota had it named an historic and scenic landmark in 1971, and in 1976 the Minnesota Historical Society took over operation. The site includes the original tower and lens, the fog signal building, the oil house, and the three keepers' houses. It is restored to appear as it did in the late 1920s. 

In 2011 it was designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of the most picturesque lighthouses in the United States.

Lake Superior, MN - Split Rock LighthouseLake Superior, MN - Split Rock LighthousePhoto by the late David Fisk. Make plans to visit this beautiful historic site, complete with museum at the visitors center and guided tours.  Or just take a self guided tour around the 25 acre site, with several views of the lighthouse that are sure to make a great photo.  Walk up the spiral staircase to the light itself and see more displays in the fog signal building.  Costumed guides in the keepers home and Lighthouse show what life was like in the early 1920's.  

In addition, the adjacent Split Rock Lighthouse State Park offers many recreational activities and scenic trails along the shoreline. 

Find out more via the Minnesota Historical Society's website HERE.

(Legends of America Photo Prints) Minnesota Split Rock about history information lighthouse photos https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/split-rock-more-than-just-a-lighthouse Wed, 27 Jul 2016 01:56:09 GMT
A Frivolous Post on Lanesboro https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/a-frivolous-post-on-lanesboro I don't have a lot to write about Lanesboro, Minnesota, at the moment. But Kathy and I had the opportunity to stop there not long after entering Minnesota last week, and it was just too hard to resist not sharing this sleepy little town, population 754.   Lanesboro, MN - Main StreetLanesboro, MN - Main Street

Platted in 1868 along the Root River, the town is named after one of its founders, F.A. Lane. 

Lanesboro, MN - Hank's Diner - 2Lanesboro, MN - Hank's Diner - 2Photo by Dave Alexander It has a nice waterfall on the edge of town that the ducks love. 

Lanesboro, MN - Root River WaterfallLanesboro, MN - Root River WaterfallPhoto by Dave Alexander It's dubbed the Bed & Breakfast capital of Minnesota

Lanesboro, MN - Outfitters and InnLanesboro, MN - Outfitters and Inn And it's full of quaint little shops along 'main street' that just scream...take a picture!

Lanesboro, MN - SignsLanesboro, MN - SignsWith a history that dates back to 1868, quaint shops and eatery's, against the backdrop of the Root River, Lanesboro promotes itself as the Bed & Breakfast capital of Minnesota. Photo by Dave Alexander. We even found a working phone booth in this town!  I know, I know, that's not that old, but still, I just had to. 

Lanesboro, MN - Phone BoothLanesboro, MN - Phone Booth Much of the downtown in Lanesboro is on the National Register of Historic Places. With lots of art, culture and cutsy shopping, I can see why it was named by Author John Villani as one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns of America.  

So, I didn't want this trip to pass by without sharing what caught our eye in Lanesboro.  Enjoy :)


(Legends of America Photo Prints) Lanesboro Minnesota amish diner photos root river shops waterfall https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/a-frivolous-post-on-lanesboro Sun, 24 Jul 2016 20:46:00 GMT
North West Company Fur Post - A Trip to the early 1800's on Snake River https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/north-west-company-fur-post---a-trip-to-the-early-1800s-on-snake-river Just a few miles outside of Pine City, Minnesota sits an historic site found by chance. The 1804 fur post of the North West Company.  

North West Co. Trading PostNorth West Co. Trading PostRecreation of the 1804 fur trading post, created from evidence found in excavation of the site in the 1960's. Evidence of the post was found in the early 1930's, when a boy brought home some interesting looking "rocks". His father recognized them as flints for rifles, and decades later, in the 1960's, excavation of the site led the Minnesota Historical Society in their accurate reconstruction of the post. The journal of John Sayer, the posts manager, helped further recreate life there as they traded with the Ojibwe tribe along the Snake River. 

North West Co. Trading Post - FursNorth West Co. Trading Post - FursFurs were brought by the Ojibwe to trade with the Northwest Company for other goods. Anything from cooking utensils to cloth. Furs were brought by the Ojibwe to trade with the North West Company for other goods. Anything from cooking utensils to cloth. Each of the furs had different values, with Beaver having the most. For each fur, the Native would be given a credit for other goods. 

North West Co. Trading Post - Beaver PeltsNorth West Co. Trading Post - Beaver PeltsBeaver Pelts were worth more than others because they were used to make expensive hats and clothing. Here at the post the company would spend the winter trading with the tribe for wild rice, maple sugar and meat in addition to the furs. John Sayer married the Chief's daughter earlier, and established close bonds with the Ojibwe tribe, who viewed the transactions as gifts between friends. 

North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Trade Room - 2North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Trade Room - 2Trade room at the North West Company Fur Trading Post in Minnesota. There's a lot to learn about here at this most excellent historic site, with very knowledgeable re-enactors who give guided tours that really take you back to the early 1800's.  Our tour guide portrayed a French Canadian company man complete with the french language if you wanted him too. 

North West Co. Trading Post - GuideNorth West Co. Trading Post - GuideThis historical site gives excellent tours with re-enactors who really take you back to the 1800's.

We learned about the Ojibwe and how the women of the tribe were essential and valorized members of their community, and how in marriage the couple would take on complementary roles.

North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Ojibwe Living Quarters - 2North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Ojibwe Living Quarters - 2Ojibwe living quarters at the North West Company Fur Trading Post in Minnesota. We also learned how the tribe named the river Kanabec or Snake, for their enemy, the Dakota.

North West Co. Trading Post - Snake verNorth West Co. Trading Post - Snake River

While here you'll be taken through a tribes camp on your way to the fur post.  Then at the post, you'll learn about each room and the roles of the company employee's, the way they lived and played. 

North West Co. Trading Post, MN - Bunk RoomNorth West Co. Trading Post, MN - Bunk RoomBunk room at the North West Company Fur Trading Post in Minnesota.

You can read more about North West Company Fur Trading Post in our Article Here.

Read more about the Ojibwe Native Tribe Here.

Learn more about this excellent site on the National Historical Register via the Minnesota Historical Society's website HERE. Be sure to check out some of their signature events to enhance your visit even more.  Kathy and I want to thank everyone at the Historical Society and Museum for a wonderful experience!

Here are some of the views that caught our eye while there. 

(Legends of America Photo Prints) British Canadians French Fur Traders Native Americans North West Company Ojibwe Scottish early 1800's photo slide show https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/north-west-company-fur-post---a-trip-to-the-early-1800s-on-snake-river Sun, 24 Jul 2016 00:58:42 GMT
Mill City Museum - Exploring Flour Power in Minneapolis https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/mill-city-museum---exploring-flour-power-in-minneapolis Another excellent site from the Minnesota Historical Society is Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis.  Housed in the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, the museum chronicles the storied past of what once made Minneapolis the Flour Milling Capital of the World. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum ExteriorMinneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum ExteriorHoused in the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, the museum tells the story of Minneapolis' rein as flour capital of the world. Nicknamed "Mill City", Minneapolis growth from a small 13,000 residents in 1870, to over 165,000 in 1890, is attributed to the construction and innovation of the Mills on the Mississippi River. Grain came from all over the Northern Plains by rail to be processed here. 

Minneapolis, MN -Gold Medal Flour Sign - 2Minneapolis, MN -Gold Medal Flour Sign - 2At the Mill City Museum. Photo by Dave Alexander. The power behind the boom in industry came from Saint Anthony Falls, the highest waterfall on the Mississippi River, which led to saw mills, woolen mills, cotton and paper mills, and our focus of the day, flour. 

Minneapolis, MN - Saint Anthony FallsMinneapolis, MN - Saint Anthony FallsPhoto by Dave Alexander. We started our tour with an excellent movie on the history of Minneapolis called "Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat". 

Local humorist, playwright and radio personality Kevin Kling takes a light hearted look at the city every half hour, and it's included in your admission price. There's a lot we didn't know about Minneapolis before watching this film and we think you'll find it very entertaining. 

After the film we took the self guided tour of exhibits, checked out the Baking Lab and soaked in the power of flour. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum BisquickMinneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum Bisquick The museum also includes ruins of original brickwork and limestone walls that are all that's left from a devastating 1991 blaze.  It just so happened that the Minnesota Historical Society was working to build the museum at the time of the fire, and simply incorporated it into the overall theme. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum Ruins - 2Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum Ruins - 2Photo by Dave Alexander. We wrapped up our tour of Mill City Museum with another excellent journey through history, this of the Mill itself on the Flour Tower.

Minneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum -Flour TowerMinneapolis, MN - Mill City Museum -Flour Tower We were impressed with the 8 story freight elevator ride through exhibits, complete with stories told by workers of the Mill, ending up on the 9th story observation deck overlooking St Anthony Falls and the Mississippi. 

Minneapolis, MN - River View - 2Minneapolis, MN - River View - 2View from the 9th story observation deck at Mill City Museum.

The Flour Tower and Movie alone are worth the price of admission to this most wonderful museum.  For more information, see the Mill City Museum official website HERE.

After, or before, your visit to the museum, be sure to check out Mill Ruins Park just beyond down by the river. On the National Register of Historic Places, walk around ruins of the Mill industry and over the historic Stone Arch Bridge. 

Minneapolis, MN - Mill Ruins ParkMinneapolis, MN - Mill Ruins ParkPhoto by Dave Alexander Minneapolis, MN -Mill Ruins Park Stone Arch BridgeMinneapolis, MN -Mill Ruins Park Stone Arch BridgePhoto by Dave Alexander. It's a fun way to spend the day with family and friends, and an entertaining way to learn about the history of Minneapolis. We recommend you set aside a couple of hours at the Mill City Museum, and check ahead for special events and concerts

In the meantime, here's a view from our eye while at the Museum and Mill Ruins Park. 

(Legends of America Photo Prints) Mill City Museum Mill Ruins Park Minneapolis history museum photos travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/mill-city-museum---exploring-flour-power-in-minneapolis Fri, 22 Jul 2016 01:00:56 GMT
Sibley Historic Site and Fort Snelling https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/Sibley-Historic-Site-and-Fort-Snelling We couldn't come to Minnesota without touring and learning about Mendota.  This area is rich in history with the Dakota tribe long before fur traders arrived here in the 1760's.  The Dakota called this place bdota, which in english translates to where two waters come together.  The town of Mendota sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Ann Essling writes in her book for the Minnesota Historical Society "Historic Mendota Before 1863", that the english speaking  fur traders, while trying to spell and pronounce bdota, spelled it Mendota. The Dakota's name for the river was Mnisota or sky-tinted waters. 

Active in fur trading with the Native Americans, just outside of Fort Snelling the area was known as St. Peter's,  then as a settlement formed it was renamed Mendota in 1837. The village would be the first city in what would eventually be Minnesota. At the Sibley Historic Site, we toured three homes, some of the oldest in the state, that were not only witness, but had active roles in the events that would shape Minnesota. 

You'll enter the Dupuis Home to purchase tickets for the tours of the homes.  

Mendota, MN - Sibley Site Visitor CenterMendota, MN - Sibley Site Visitor CenterHome of Hypolite Dupuis built in 1853-54.

Built in the early 1850's, it was home to Hypolite Dupuis, a fur trade clerk and manager of the American Fur Company store.  Dupuis, as best history can tell, was an assistant to Henry Sibley during his time in the fur trade here. He built the home after the fur trade had died out. 

Down the hill the next stop was the Cold Store for the American Fur Company.  Here things could be refrigerated by carving out large chunks of ice and putting them under the building.  

Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur Trading - 2Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur Trading - 2

The Cold Store and warehouse held many goods for the American Fur Company during the fur trading years here.

Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur TradingMendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site Fur Trading

Read more about the Great Fur Trading Companies HERE


The Sibley Home, and the Cold Store, were built in 1836.  Henry Hastings Sibley, regional manager for the American Fur Company's "Sioux Outfit", built it not only for a private residence, but business office and hotel for travelers. 

Mendota, MN - Sibley HouseMendota, MN - Sibley HouseBuilt in 1836

After he married Sarah Jane Steel in 1843, Sibley converted everything to a family home and added an addition, a privy and ice house. The fur trade went bust around that same time, but Sibley stayed, making a living as a land speculator and later influential politician, including the state's first Governor. 

Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House Dining RoomMendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House Dining Room Mendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House LivingRoomMendota, MN - Sibley Historic Site - Sibley House LivingRoom Sibley's role in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 remains the most controversial aspect of his career. While working for the release of hostages, he made promises to the Dakota that he failed to keep. He had been told by Major General Pope to treat the Indians "like wild beasts" and bowed to public demands for a mass execution.  Many natives were tried and convicted with little due process,  with 38 hung en masse in the largest public execution in American History. 

Read more about Henry Hastings Sibley Here

Read more about the Dakota War of 1862 HERE.

Next stop on our tour was the Faribault House. Jean-Baptiste Faribault had been a trader with the natives for many years and was lured to the area from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin in 1819 by Lt. Colonel Henry Leavenworth, on his way to build Fort Snelling.  Leavenworth was impressed at Faribaults knowledge of the Dakota language and thought he could be a key player in the fur trade at St. Peter's.  

Mendota, MN - Sibley Site Faribault HouseMendota, MN - Sibley Site Faribault House

Faribault would eventually move next door to Sibley and had the home built in the same style around 1839 at a cost of $5,000. He would leave Mendota in 1847, after which the home was converted to a hotel in 1853 and later a warehouse. 

The Sibley Historic Site provides tours during the summer on Saturdays and Sundays, and on Holiday Mondays.  Plan on about 45 minutes for the tour, but take some time to mosey around this historic location.  For more information about the Sibley Historic Site, see their website HERE.

Update from comments below: Peter Clark wrote - "At the Sibley site, we usually in April and May get many school groups, some of whom return every year. This is all before Minnesota became a territory and state. There are over twenty different sites around the state to visit, but this gem is tucked away at the Minnesota river and across from Fort Snelling. In the fall, one can stand on Sibley's front porch and see the Fort through the bare trees.

Make this a weekend outing for you and family/fiends. This is where Minnesota began and where Sibley set site in 1836 and built his limestone house, which has stood for over 150 years and is the first historic site in the state. The grounds are public property and you can enjoy a picnic here in the midst of the Sibley site. Come see us!

Fort Snelling

Across the Minnesota River, and sitting on the Mississippi is Fort Snelling.  Founded in 1819 as Fort Saint Anthony, the fort sits on the bluff above the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers to control the exploration, trade, and settlement on these waterways. 

Fort Snelling, MN - View From AboveFort Snelling, MN - View From AboveA view standing on the Round House looking over Fort Snelling, as a re-enactor walks the grounds below. Led by Colonel Josiah Snelling, commanding the 5th Infantry Regiment, the fort was constructed between 1820 to 1824. During construction, most soldiers lived at Camp Coldwater, which provided drinking water to the fort throughout the 19th century. Upon its completion in 1825, the Army renamed the fort as Fort Snelling in honor of its commander and architect.

Fort Snelling, MN - Parade GroundFort Snelling, MN - Parade Ground

The Round House at Fort Snelling is the oldest structure known still standing in Minnesota. 

Fort Snelling, MN - Round HouseFort Snelling, MN - Round HouseThe Round House is the oldest structure known still standing in Minnesota. Photo by Dave Alexander. Life for the soldiers at the fort was pretty routine and structured, and most every need taken care of by the government. However their families and others at the fort relied on the sutler's store for their goods. 

Fort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store InteriorFort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store Interior Prices were negotiated and set with the U.S. Government so the sutler couldn't gouge the residents, but pricing took into consideration transportation costs up the Mississippi River from St. Louis.  

Fort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store Interior - 2Fort Snelling, MN - Sutler Store Interior - 2

You can learn more about the store just by talking to the very knowledgeable and friendly re-enactors here, who also give scheduled presentations on everything from the Surgeon to how the soldiers performed drills. 

Fort Snelling, MN - DrummerFort Snelling, MN - DrummerPhoto by Dave Alexander. Fort Snelling, MN - Infantry DrillFort Snelling, MN - Infantry DrillPhoto by Dave Alexander. One of those presentations taught about Fort Snelling's slaves, despite the fact this was free territory.  Records show at least 30 slaves were at one point in time here. The most famous of which were the Scott's. 

Fort Snelling, MN - Dred Scott MarkerFort Snelling, MN - Dred Scott MarkerDred Scott met his wife Harriet at Fort Snelling as a slave owned by Dr. John Emerson, despite the fort being in free territory.

Dred Scott lived here from around 1836 to 1840.  Owned as a slave by Dr.  John Emerson, Scott met his wife Harriet at Fort Snelling.  Arguably the most influential people to live here, the Scott's left the fort in 1840, and while living in St. Louis, Missouri, sued the government for their freedom, arguing that since they had lived in free territory while at Fort Snelling, they and their children should be freed.  They would spend the next eleven years fighting their case before the Supreme Court decision of 1857 rejected their claim on the basis that they were property, not citizens, and therefore could not sue. Although freed that same year despite the decision, the Scott's case further inflamed the growing tensions in America leading up to the Civil War, and was a major catalyst to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

There is a lot to see, learn and do at Fort Snelling. To experience it in full, be sure to plan ahead and count on a few hours exploring, watching demonstrations and interactive presentations, and enjoying this crucial piece of Minnesota history. 

For more information see the Historic Fort Snelling's official website HERE

Read more about Fort Snelling in our article HERE

Plan a full day at both these great Minnesota Historic Sites.  Until you do, here's a taste of the sights we saw in our Fort Snelling Slide Show: 



(Legends of America Photo Prints) American Fur Company Dred Scott Fort Snelling Henry Sibley Minneapolis St. Paul area attractions Minnesota Sibley House enactments historical tours https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/Sibley-Historic-Site-and-Fort-Snelling Thu, 21 Jul 2016 01:42:25 GMT
On the Road - Fort Dodge...The Other One https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/on-the-road-fort-dodge-the-other-one We're on the road again, this time heading north through Iowa with our farthest destination being the head waters of the Mississippi River. Along the way we're finding interesting history, and in Iowa it was Fort Dodge. Yes, the first Fort Dodge, before the more famous one in Kansas that was established a couple of decades later.  

Fort Museum & Frontier VillageThe Fort Museum & Frontier Village in Fort Dodge, Iowa is a recreation of the original, however some liberties were taken. The original Fort did not have a stockade like the one seen here surrounding it.

The Fort Museum & Frontier Village provides a peak at the past with wonderful displays and thousands of items in the many buildings, most of which have been donated throughout the years.  Run by the Fort Dodge Historical Foundation, the museum explores how around 1850, Brevet Major Samuel Woods lead a couple of military Companies along with a group of U.S. Dragoons from Fort Snelling, Minnesota with the goal of returning the Sac & Fox tribes back to the reservations in Kansas.  Afterwards, they built a post near what is now Fort Dodge city square and Company C, along with the Dragoons, remained to serve the Fort. 

Fort Dodge Barracks

Fort Dodge Blockhouse

The site was chosen from reports of the area 15 years earlier. Overlooking the Des Moines River, the location provided good water, timber and stone for building and possible coal.  A stream sawmill was brought in to speed up the construction of the Fort, and groundwork was laid out for a city to grow along side the fort. By November of 1850 twelve buildings were ready to live in and they named it Fort Clarke, in honor of the commanding officer of the 6th Infantry.  

The next spring, nine more buildings were constructed and the fort was renamed Fort Dodge, in honor of Col. Henry Dodge, U.S. Senator of the Wisconsin Territory and founder of the Dragoons.  At this time, the fort consisted of 3 commissioned officers, 10 non-commissioned officers, up to 80 enlisted men and 40 civilians, most of which were family members of the soldiers.  Scouting the area between the Cedar and Missouri River, they found that instead of dealing with fighting the Native Americans, they instead were getting trespassers of the Sioux lands. In addition they were finding bootleggers and pursuing deserters from the military. Life at the Fort was routine, with Garrison duties consisting of drill, tending post fields and gardens, guard duty, building maintenance and more drill. 

Meanwhile frontier life was basic and mostly boring.  As a private in the military, the pay was only $7 a month, but food was plentiful. Hunting, drinking and gambling were the main entertainment at the fort. Single women were rare, as well as news from the outside world. 

In 1853 Fort Dodge was abandoned and troops moved to Minnesota to establish Fort Ridgeley.  William Williams, the post sutler (store keeper), bought the store building and military post and a year later platted the City of Fort Dodge.  

Fort Dodge  -Sutlers StoreFort Dodge -Sutlers Store

The Fort Dodge Historical Foundation has done a good job in recreating 'main street' next to a replica Fort.  The actual Fort, when built, did not have a stockade around it like you see today.  We were told during our tour that when the museum was created back in the 1960's, most people associated Forts with a wall around it, mainly due to television westerns, which is why it was re-created this way. 

You'll find everything from the local newspaper office to the general store, each staged with interesting items of the times.  Each of the main street buildings have its own unique history, some brought in from other locations, to help create the look and feel of the young city back in the 1800's. 

In addition to touring the buildings of the frontier town and fort, be sure to see the Cardiff Giant. The story of the Giant is a tale as big as he is; a colossal 19th century hoax that was billed as a petrified man.  Actually it was a block of gypsum that was purchased by a Fort Dodge resident, who had it hauled to Chicago, carved into a man, then buried to be discovered in New York 2 years later.  All part of the plan of course, and even after it was discovered to be a hoax, P.T. Barnum continued to display it for the masses.  It was described as "an immensely lucrative practical joke whose author was a near genius at evoking the gullible in man."  While the original is in Cooperstown, New York, a slightly smaller replica can be seen at the Fort Museum. 

FortDodge, IA - Cardiff GiantFortDodge, IA - Cardiff GiantThis hoax of gypsum suckered many into believing it was actually a petrified giant.

Read more about the Cardiff Giant HERE.

Here are just a few of the scenes from the Fort Museum and Frontier village that we enjoyed.  The Fort Museum and Frontier Village are located off of Business 169 at 1 Museum Road, Fort Dodge, Iowa. See their website for more information HERE.


(Legends of America Photo Prints) Fort Dodge Fort Museum & Frontier Village Iowa Museum cardiff giant historic history recreation town travel https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/7/on-the-road-fort-dodge-the-other-one Sat, 16 Jul 2016 19:05:27 GMT
That time when... A journey to our beginnings https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/6/that-time-when-a-journey-to-our-beginnings Editor's Note:  This is the second in our series "That time when...", looking back at some of our favorite travels since 2003. 

Thirteen years ago, on June 27, 2003, Kathy registered the domain name "LegendsOfAmerica.com" as a continuation of a hobby website she had created, which focused on the Moreno Valley of northeast New Mexico.  Kathy's own history in this area dates back to her childhood, when she would spend summers with her Grandma Foster at the family cabin in Idlewild, a small home association between Eagle Nest and Angel Fire. 

The gold rush brought many to the area, but even after the rush faded, some were convinced there was still gold to be found in the early 1900's.  One of those being Fred Montague, who along with other investors, purchased property and dug three tunnels in 1920.  One of those would become the Klondyke Mine

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke MineEagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke MineUnfortunately the Klondyke Mine has been torn down since this photo was taken. In the beginning, assay reports from the mine showed that the tunnel had large amounts of gold, silver and copper. An engineer from Denver advised the investors to build a mill. Before the mill was built, the owners first built several buildings on the property, including a mining office, a cook house, a general store and cabins for the miners.

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild CabinIdlewild, NM - CabinPhoto by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Only after the mill was built did the investors find, in 1926, that the grade of ore found needed to be smelted, and the nearest facility was in Pueblo, Colorado. Trucking the ore to Pueblo was too expensive to justify continuing the endeavor. 

The Klondyke Mine was never very productive and the mining company was constantly in search of additional working capital, though they continued to hold board meetings until the 1940's. Finally, the mine was abandoned as a business venture, but the Montague family still retains the ten acres surrounding the mine.  The remaining buildings of the mine were torn down in January of 2011. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine EquipmentIdlewild, NM - Klondike Mine Equipment, 2004The Klondike Mine and Mill in Idlewild, near Eagle Nest, New Mexico was established in the 1920s. However, it was never very productive and all operations had ceased by 1940. The old mill continued to stand until 2011, when it was razed. Photo by Dave Alexander, 2004. Idlewild developed adjacent to the Klondyke Mine in the 1930's. Originally, the land was owned by Charles Gallagher, who married Mae Lowery, the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Moore Lowery, for whom Elizabethtown was named. Forced to sell some of his land due to a bad cattle deal, Gallagher sold off 160 acres to Thomas cook in 1929, who developed the Idlewild 'retreat.  

Most of the properties in Idlewild were sold to visitors from Texas and many are passed from generation to generation, including Legends of America founder and editor, Kathy Weiser's family's cabin, one of the oldest in Idlewild. It was here that Kathy spent summers with her Grandparents, Ben & Irene Foster, and developed her love of history.  Kathy says Irene was and still is the inspiration for Legends of America. 


This small community means a lot to both of us, as Kathy and I (Dave) were married at the outdoor church here in June of 2006. 

Read more about Idlewild & the Klondyke mine HERE.


Often on the list of places to see and explore, Kathy spent many a day at the ghost town of Elizabethtown

Elizabethtown, NM - Main Street, 1943Elizabethtown, NM - Main Street, 1943Main Street in Elizabethtown New Mexico, by John Collier, 1943. E-Town, as it was known to residents, is nothing but ruins and a museum now, but once was a thriving mining community of over 7,000 residents. Drawn by a gold find in 1866, miners rushed to the area. In June of 1867, Captain William Moore and his brother John opened a General Store nearby, and by the end of the month it was clear that the store would become the center of a town.  The next year, Moore along with other businessmen, platted Elizabethtown, named after the Captain's daughter, Elizabeth Catherine Moore.  She would grow up to become the town's first school teacher. 

A fire in 1903 wiped out most of the original buildings. One of the only businesses to survive the blaze was the Froelick Store. 

Elizabethtown, NM - Froelick Store & Mutz HotelElizabethtown, NM - Froelick Store & Mutz HotelTragedy struck Elizabethtown in 1903 when fire caught in the second story of one of the largest retail establishments, the Remsberg Store. In the dry mountain conditions the flames quickly engulfed the mostly wood buildings, flames spreading throughout the town. One of the only businesses to survive was Herman Froelick's Store. One of several hotels, the Mutz Hotel was built by Herman Mutz, a rancher and cattleman of the area. Today the ruins of the hotel are some of the more striking features of this ghost town. 

Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel, 1943Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel, 1943Mutz Hotel in Elizabethtown, New Mexico, by John Collier, 1943. In 1870, Elizabethtown had seven saloons, three dance halls, five stores, a school, two churches and several hotels.  The Mutz Hotel was one of the first buildings to catch fire in 1903, but it was rebuilt of stone. The town never fully recovered from the fire, and since the 1943 photo above, the hotel has continued to fall into ruins. 

Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz HotelElizabethtown, NM - Mutz HotelRuins of the Mutz Hotel in Elizabethtown Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel - 3Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel - 3Mutz Hotel - Photo by Dave Alexander, 2004.

Read more fascinating history of Elizabethtown HERE.


Just a few miles away is Eagle Nest, another historic community that continues today. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Vintage Street SceneEagle Nest, NM - Vintage Street Scene One of the earlier buildings in Eagle Nest, originally known as Therma, is the Laguna Vista Saloon, which started as the El Monte Hotel. Allegedly it was built in 1898 with stolen railroad ties from Elizabethtown.  

Eagle Nest, NM - El Monte Hotel Eagle Nest, NM - El Monte Hotel The El Monte was one of the busiest saloons in the 1920's and 30's when the politicians stopped over on their way to the horse races in Raton, New Mexico to partake of the many roulette, gaming tables and slot machines offered in the saloons, inns, and businesses of Eagle Nest. 
It was sometime during this period that the El Monte's name was changed to the Laguna Vista Lodge. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Laguna VistaEagle Nest, NM - Laguna Vista Eagle Nest is located in the Moreno Valley in the midst of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Nestled between the state's two highest peaks - Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet) and Wheeler Peek (13,161 feet), it sits at the junction of US Hwy 64 and State Hwy 38. High above sea level, at 8,300 feet, the village rests on the western slope of Baldy Mountain.  The town sits by Eagle Nest lake, created by a dam in 1918, the largest privately constructed dam in the U.S. The story goes that Eagles built a nest on the side of the new dam, which is how the lake got its name. 

Eagle Nest Lake - From Mount BaldyEagle Nest Lake - From Mount BaldyThe town of Eagle Nest and Eagle Nest Lake are located in the Moreno Valley in the midst of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Nestled between the states two highest peaks - Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet) and Wheeler Peek (13,161 feet), it sits at the junction of US Hwy 64 and State Hwy 38.

In 1927, Oklahoma oilman Walter Grant built the Eagle Nest Lodge, which featured 12 rooms, a lounge and restaurant in a luxurious building. The lodge was considered one of the finest for miles, and soon expanded to include five studio units.  The Lodge also offered horseback riding, fishing and hunting expeditions to the many travelers who stopped to enjoy Eagle Nest Lake. It's been long abandoned, and the last word we had in 2008 was that several of the buildings still stand. 

Eagle Nest, NM - Eagle Nest Lodge Front - 2Eagle Nest, NM - Eagle Nest Lodge Front - 2, 2006

Today, the Village of Eagle Nest is lined with arts and crafts shops, lodging, restaurants, and saloons. Known as a laid-back mountain town, unbothered by the traffic and noise of city life, the village has seen a renaissance in recent years with the addition of sidewalks, old-fashioned streetlights, park benches and flowerboxes, making the stroll through the town a pleasure. The less than mile long Main street features numerous specialty shops carrying locally-made crafts and fine arts, sculpture, sterling silver jewelry, Indian jewelry, antiques, pottery, candies, fudge, clothing, souvenirs, and much more.

Eagle Nest, NM - Main Street - 2Eagle Nest, NM - Main Street - 2 - 2006Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Read more about Eagle Nest HERE.

Kathy talks more about this area in our latest Newsletter as she reminisces about how our website began 13 years ago.  If you are not a subscriber you can see the online version HERE.

As always, all our images here in our photo print shop are available not only for prints in many sizes, but also on merchandise and as downloads.  Just go to a photo, click "buy" then browse our products.  In the meantime, enjoy this slideshow of the Eagle Nest Area, and thank you for your support during the past 13 years.


(Legends of America Photo Prints) Eagle Nest Elizabethtown Idlewild Klondyke Mine Laguna Vista Saloon Legends of America Anniversary Moreno Valley New Mexico https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/6/that-time-when-a-journey-to-our-beginnings Sat, 25 Jun 2016 14:56:32 GMT
That time when... Our Trip to Virginia City Nevada in 2009 https://photos.legendsofamerica.com/blog/2016/6/that-time-when-our-trip-to-virginia-city-nevada-in-2009 Editor's Note:  This is the first in our series "That time when...", looking back at some of our favorite travels since 2003. 

In July of 2009, during a trip out west to California, we ventured to Lake Tahoe, then over into Nevada to check out Virginia City, once heralded as the most important settlement between Denver and San Francisco.  Along the way there we ran into a couple of 'bonuses', Silver City and Gold Hill; mining camps along State Road 342 not far from our destination. 

Silver City - EnteringSilver City - EnteringAs you enter Silver City, Nevada south of town on Highway 341. We first reached Silver City, turning off Highway 50 onto State Road 341 east of Carson City, Nevada. Silver City history dates back to June of 1850, when John Orr and Nicholas Kelly discovered the first gold nugget in what would become Gold Canyon.  The town would be officially settled in 1859. 

By 1861, Silver City had several boarding houses, a number of saloons, four hotels and a population of about 1,200.  The town thrived for several years, though its mines and mills were never as productive as Virginia City and Gold Hill just up the road.

Silver City - MineSilver City - MineOld Mining operations still stand in Silver City, Nevada

Today, this Nevada 'ghost town' is home to less than 200 residents, and during our visit, still displayed a number of historic structures, including old mining equipment scattered in the hillside. 

Silver City - Fire DeptSilver City - Fire DeptThe old Fire Department building in Silver City, Nevada looks like it could crumble any moment during our visit here in 2009.

After you pass through Devil's Gate just north of Silver City on State Highway 342, it's not long before you reach the ghost town of Gold Hill.

Gold Hill, NV - 1867Gold Hill, NV - 1867Gold Hill, Nevada by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, 1867 Gold Hill got its start about the same time as Virginia City in the late 1850's. Initially a little more than a few miners living in tents and crude shacks, it grew quickly and by 1862 incorporated as an official town to avoid being annexed.  During its peak the city boasted some 8,000 residents. 

Gold Hill, NV - Bank buildingGold Hill, NV - Bank buildingThe old bank building in Gold Hill appears to still be in use during our visit in 2009.

Today Gold Hill is home to less than 200 residents, but still features the historic Gold Hill Hotel.