Friday, April 13, 2018

Depot Museum and The Pink Store

(Clicking on the pictures will open them larger in a new window.)

April 12, 2018

Yesterday we picked up our coupon and today we went for margaritas and lunch at the Pink Store.
A couple days ago Pat was taking a walk around the park and stopped to chat with Tom. The Stinger "B" is such a nice "ice-breaker". During that conversation she asked, if we had been over to the Pink Store yet, when she found out we had not been there she told him we had to go over and check it out. She also mentioned, if we decided to go to let them know and we could all go. Last evening her husband, Buddy, stopped by and we had a nice chat and the decision was made to go for lunch today. What a nice couple these two are and a wealth of information. They are both retired school teachers and have been full timing for 18 years. We now have a number of new places to check out in the future. Lunch was good as were the margaritas but the company was wonderful and the conversation made the time fly by. I have written it before and will probably repeat it many times in the future, we are so fortunate to be living our retirement dream and meeting so many wonderful people along the way.

Left to Right: Pat, Deb, Tom, and Buddy.

April 11, 2018

Stepping back one day. On Wednesday we decided to explore the historical sites in Columbus, NM

Columbus, New Mexico - Pancho Villa and the Railroad Depot Museum 
- By Allen Rosenberg

What vision comes to mind when you hear the name Pancho Villa? Bandit, hero, valiant leader, ruthless tyrant? All of those names have been associated with him. He was not an easy man to define; it would depend on when you met him during his career. Here in Columbus, New Mexico, the same holds true. Some of our citizens have been told by their older relatives that he was a defender of the people. Others say he killed many of his countrymen in their villages. 

Here in Columbus, we saw the results of his raid. Over 500 Villista’s attacked our town in the predawn hours of March 9, 1916. By the time the raid was over, one half the invaders were killed or wounded and 18 Americans were dead. This was the last time a foreign government invaded the Continental United States before the 9/11/2001 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon..

In retaliation for the raid, President Wilson formed a military group to attack and capture Pancho Villa under the leadership of General "Black Jack" Pershing. In the space of one week, Pershing not only drew up the logistical plan for the campaign, but actually had troops on the way to Columbus where he would march into Mexico. In a remarkably short time, the Punitive Expedition entered Mexico and tried to track Villa to his lair. With all the men, horses, mules and might of 10,000 troops, 11 months later our army had never once met up with Villa’s main force. They fought many small battles but never a big one. This was guerrilla warfare at its most effective. We were the foreign invaders. Everyone was against us even if they weren’t for Villa.       

It was an educational time for our armed forces. This was the first time that Americans used mechanized vehicles in combat. This included cars and trucks (purchased on the open market) from auto dealers in El Paso and other locations. At that time, cars were not in general use; the drivers were given rudimentary instructions and told to drive. It wasn’t uncommon to hear the drivers shouting "giddy up" and "whoa" instead of pushing the proper pedals in the vehicles. The first armored vehicles were used here. They were the forerunners of tanks. Motorcycles also were used in combat conditions. They (and mules) often would have machine guns mounted as they rode into combat. As an interesting sidenote, the regular paths that people used to get from one village to another were too rough for our vehicles so the Army Corp of Engineers improved the road between Columbus and Casas Grande, Mexico.

This effort also included the first use of airplanes in combat conditions. Our entire air force (eight planes) was stationed in Columbus, a squadron of the signal corps. Up to this time, planes were used to carry messages. Here, since they were underpowered, they flew so low they would draw fire from people on the ground. In self-defense, they carried grenades as bombs and shot back at the ground troops. The planes were also used as observers for the first time; they located suspected enemies and carried the news back to the troops. It was an exciting time for the U.S. troops. More than twenty thousand troopers gained experience in combat conditions which proved to be of great value as the U.S. entered into the European theater the following year when they returned from Mexico. 

I took this standing on the corner of  NM-11 and NM-9.

What effect did this have on Columbus? While the troops were here, Columbus was the largest settlement in New Mexico. But when they left, it became smaller than before. Over the years the town dwindled in size until the trains stopped running in the 1950s. The population dropped to around 200 and the village was listed in many locations and guides as a ghost town. Now we are up to about the size of the village at the time of the raid, around 1700 people. We still maintain our rural character but with a surprise or two for the visitors to our area.

Our Railroad Depot Museum was the railroad depot at the time of the raid and was one of the principal targets. The Villistas wanted loot, money and goods to help finance their war against the Nationalist Army.  Shots were fired at the depot, which was closed for the night. The only real casualty was a wall clock that stopped when it was hit by a bullet and recorded the time of the start of the raid. The clock is currently being held in Santa Fe and will only return when we can guarantee its safety. The museum has an excellent collection of photos of scenes taken both in Columbus and throughout the area of the Punitive Expedition. Watch the videos that were made about Pancho Villa and his raid. Examine the artifacts of the soldiers stationed here and imagine spending a winter chasing after a bandit at high altitudes in the mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico. Look at the display of weapons that were used on both sides. We also have a copy of Pancho Villa’s death mask as well as one of his sombreros.

When you have had your fill of death and destruction, the other rooms in the depot will give you an idea of life on the frontier around the turn of the century. Costumes and implements fill the walls and display cases. We even have some railroad memorabilia. In May of 2000, a painting of our entire air force of early 1916 was unveiled in town. Three days later the painting was presented to the Pentagon in Washington, DC. We are proud to offer signed and numbered prints for sale. (the above article taken off internet)

These pictures were taken in front of the Depot.

Pictures taken inside of Depot.

Pictures taken behind depot.

Top left

Top right

Bottom left

Bottom Right

There is not placard by this vehicle. So today I asked and found out
the reason. It is of no historical significance it is just an old vehicle.

Even so it

is a neat 


old vehicle.

These Items are on left side of the Depot standing in front on NM-9.

We ended up spending two interesting hours at the museum. Looking at the items on display and talking to two of the museums volunteers. Not just about the history found here but about the area today and life in general. We never did see the short film they offer as neither of the volunteers or Tom could get it going.

After leaving the museum we decided it was time for lunch and ended up at the Patio for lunch. It was a great choice the food was delicious.

After lunch we took a ride looking for the air strip that was used during the Punitive Expedition and though the map shows the area it is in we could not find it.

Picture of the general area the map points to.
Dust can be seen in the distance.

Tonight's, April 11th, afterglow was wonderful.

As I write this, April 13th, we are under our second day of  a "Red Flag" warning and the wind gusts are over 50 mph. After lunch we are going back over to the visitor center, here at the park, to learn more about the history of the area. With all the dust flying around us inside activities are the only thing on the agenda.

The wind is suppose to abate this evening and we are hoping that the weather predictors are correct. The "plan" is to leave here tomorrow morning and drive to Roswell where we plan on spending 5 nights. We had planned on leaving here yesterday and taking our time but with the predicted high winds we decided to stay until Saturday. As the navigator I have found us a route that will make for a long day, 288 miles, but Tom, as the driver, says it is a go. So we will make it, if everything lines up weather wise, Saturday evening as originally planned. This will be our last real stop on this adventure. We figure 4 days will give us time to enjoy the area, relax a little, and make a day trip to Carlsbad Caverns. Then the trek for the Upper Peninsula will begin.

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

We have enjoyed out time here and plan on enjoying today, our last day,
 even though the Stinger "B" is rocking and rolling.

If you would like to leave a comment, we would enjoy hearing from you.
If not, we are still happy you stopped by to visit.
Enjoy your day!


  1. So much interesting history in the area and lunch at the pick stere we enjoyed as well, very tasty and of course the free margaritas a bonus as well.
    Enjoying time with new friends is always fun.

    1. This has been a wonderful and interesting stop. The history, making new friends,lunch at the Pink Store was fun and free margaritas was a nice bonus.

  2. Wow how nice Free Margaritas?! I'm in...haha..How nice to meet new people again and to just click! 18 years of full timing, that's awesome! The Depot Museum is awesome so well put together and full of history! Made for a great visit for you and out of the wind mostly. I'm glad you've decided to visit Carlsbad Caverns, you will be impressed. Take the Natural entrance down and then you can take the elevator back up. It's really something to see! Nice gift store as well! Travel safely, will hope the wind is at your back if at all. :))

    1. As I am writing this the wind has calmed down quite a bit so there is hope...:)
      The Depot Museum was really nice but the visitor center at the park and the volunteer we met there was even better, next blog.
      We are looking forward to seeing the Carlsbad Caverns. I do not like going underground but I am hoping to take the Natural entrance. Maybe I can bribe myself with the promise of purchase at the gift store...LOL
      The Margaritas were not only free but good...:)

  3. It sounds as if your time there at the park has been very enjoyable as well as educational. Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed the history very much.

    I've heard a great deal about the pink store and I guess we should put it on the list of things to see at least once.

    Enjoy Roswell. We stayed only a couple of days in the area but enjoyed it.

    Safe travels.

    1. We really have enjoyed our stay here, even with the wind. There is a lot of history here and we really lucked out meeting the gentleman at the Visitor Center who not only knows a lot about the area but was fun to interact with.
      The Pink Store is nice to check out and lunch was good. If in the area, we would definitely go back.
      We, Tom especially, are looking forward to Roswell.
      You and Riley have a safe travel day, also.

  4. How cool that the little town keeps their history alive.
    I'm not really one to enjoy going underground in tight spaces, but I've heard amazing things about Carlsbad Caverns. I think you will enjoy it.

    1. I am pretty sure keeping the history of there town alive is what keeps their town alive. Though the people we talked to at the Depot Museum and the Visitor Center were not from Columbus, NM.

      The elevator is down at Carlsbad Caverns right now and that was the back up if I could not make the walk in. So unless something changes there, I guess it will be back on the to see list for another year...:(

  5. Very interesting history you have uncovered. It is strange that all the museums we visit seem to focus on the 'bad stuff' that happened. Sad, but I guess it's all about what brings people in. Kinda like the TV ratings. Oh well.
    Safe travels to Roswell.
    Nice sunset pics!

    1. I am thinking here, at least, the thing that put this little town on the map, so to speak, was the raid in 1916. So that is what the focus is.
      We are in Roswell safe and sound.

  6. Interesting area. I really enjoyed Carlsbad Caverns and I know you two will also. Don't hurry home. The weather this month has been horrible.

    1. It was an interesting area to visit.
      We were looking forward to seeing the Carlsbad Caverns then we heard the elevator was down for repairs/refurbishing at Carlsbad. I checked and it will not be back up for a couple more weeks. Since, we had planned on the elevator as a back up if I could not walk in we will wait until next time we are this way.
      We are hoping things turn around, weather wise, in the next 12 days. It has been crazy for April.