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Ft. Craig, Part II: Long Term Rivalry

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Ft. Craig sits on the western side of the Rio Grande.  In this photo the river is hiding below that dark line, where the land drops to the river’s level, and soon rises to the mesa on the other side.rio grande

To the west, there is mesa for some distance to the mountains.  These mountains are one set of geologically recent protrusions which have pushed up at intervals, scattered across the landscape.  This view is taken from a lookout site at the top of one of the large storage structures.366west warmer

These photos are closer to what I experienced as the color of the land and bushes than the ones I posted in my previous post.

And to the north is Black Mesa.  On the north side of Black Mesa one of the important battles of the Civil War in New Mexico took place.  The site is Val Verde, a set of arroyos and streams that drain into the Rio Grande.  The Confederate troops came up the eastern side of the mesa; the troops from Ft. Craig went up on the western side.black mesa 3.warmer

While the regular soldiers fought, New Mexico Volunteers, led by Kit Carson, held the fort.  The South won the battle, but the New Mexicans would not give up the fort.  The Confederate troops did not have enough resources to lay siege, so they withdrew.

The Battle of Val Verde took place on February 21, 1862.  On March 28 that same year, the Confederates lost a battle at Glorieta Pass, near Santa Fe, and their push to control the west was over.

I wondered why the New Mexicans were so supportive of the government from far away.  I was told it was because the Texans had already made a grab for New Mexico land earlier.

Kit Carson Slept Here (maybe)

Kit Carson Slept Here (maybe)

This rivalry continues.  I heard two instances of it just last week.  In a meeting about education in the state and financing, the new PARCC testing was discussed.  This testing is created by the Pearson company.  How much are they benefitting from adoption of this testing?  The question was asked “How much money is going to Texas?” where Pearson is based.

On another occasion, in a discussion of Voter I.D. laws a researcher, whose work had led a Texas judge to decide against a new law for that state, got a big laugh when he said, “Let’s see what we can learn from Texas.”

New Mexicans around here go down to El Paso often.  Some even work there.  But they still like to put down Texas.  After all, the Texans did try to take our land.

Ft. Craig, Part I: Ruins

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I drove up to Santa Fe to visit the Legislature this past week.  When I make a trip like that I think it is good to mix some pleasure with business, so I stopped at a historic site I hadn’t been to before.  Ft. Craig is near the Rio Grande roughly 100 miles north of Las Cruces.  It is located just south of Black Mesa, which was a landmark from the earliest years of Spanish travel into what is now New Mexico.  The Rio Grande curls around the mesa.

Black Mesa

Black Mesa

Ft. Craig was the largest of several forts built around the time of the Civil War, partly because of the war, partly to secure the area for people moving in to territory which had been acquired by the United States in 1848.  This fort was in use from 1854 to 1885.  Most of the buildings were built of adobe which has collapsed.  A guardhouse was built of stone.guard house

The remaining walls of the commanding officer’s quarters have been covered with material to preserve them.   Paths have been created by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management, which has jurisdiction of this property) around the parade ground which doesn’t look like one anymore.

Parade Ground

Parade Ground

Some mounds turn out to be walls.

Wall

Wall

Other walls remind me of Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” poem.  I associate this poem with ruins like this because there are wall long & signmany collapsing territory-marking walls back east in what is now woodland.  “Something there is that does not love a wall,” I used to think as I walked a section of the Appalachian or the Horseshoe Trail.  Yet parts of them persist.storeroom above

Adobe work can be seen in a set of large storage buildings, which were buried in dirt after construction, the only way to keep things cool in hot New Mexico summers.

Storeroom

Storeroom

I took so many pictures I’ll save a few for my next post.  And maybe before then I can figure out how to correct the color in these photos.  The yellow of the grass and the green of the bushes do not come through as they should.  New Mexico is not really this purple.