Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Las Vegas to Raton - The Long Way

After a pleasant night in Las Vegas the following nights destination was to be either Cimarron or Raton. The route however, was not to be straight line, as I wanted to explore some more side roads and I wanted to visit the famous cavalry post, Fort Union.

First things first though. Before leaving Las Vegas I wanted to search out the old downtown area for classic signs. I was rewarded for my efforts. In the search for old signs, old theaters and old drive-in theaters are of special interest to me. Not just because they normally have cool signs but they are truly "historical" and are of a culture now gone in these United States. The small downtown theaters were once the lifeblood of the weekend in many rural towns. Drive-ins had the same cultural effect but for a much shorter time period and are disappearing at a much faster clip.

Las Vegas has both a theater and a
drive in. Neither are still operating and I'll wager that in a few years both of these will be lost to history. Click and enlarge the picture of the drive-in at the top. You can not only see the marquee in the picture but you can also see the screen in the background. The really neat thing about the screen is that the lower third of the screen is painted in a mural....must be a New Mexico thing? You can see in the tile work under the ticket window of the Serf theater that it opened in 1937. I don't have a clue about the significance of the name "Serf"?

After my sign hunt I headed north on Highway 518 and then east on the smaller highway 161 back to the Interstate. Highway 161 once again took me into ancient New Mexico. Twisting roads just barely two lanes wide took me through old Mexican settlements
and farmlands. These people were here almost a hundred years before the first "American" showed up. Many of their descendants still own and work the land....fascinating.

After about 30 miles of ancient New Mexico I was back to I-25 and modern day America...but not for long. Just a few miles up the road was the turn off to Fort Union.

I have mentioned before that my father "The Colonel" started his military career as a horse cavalryman so ALL things cavalry, interest me. Ft. Union was a premier cavalry post from the 1850's to the 1890's. It was not only a cavalry post but also a Quartermaster post that received, stored and re-shipped supplies all over the southwest United States. It was a huge installation at the time.

Not a lot is left of the post but the bones. Bones of buildings. There are a lot of bones and you can get the feel for the post by walking among the bones.

As you can see from the photo the sky was overcast. The wind started blowing and the temperature was dropping. One of the park rangers told me that the forecast was for about an inch of snow at Ft. Union that night.....and that the Denver area could get about 12" of snow!!

My plans changed immediately. I needed to get to a safe place where I could hunker down for a day or two if necessary, so I headed to Raton and went to the KOA campground. They have full hookups and WiFi so I could be comfortable there whatever the weather. I checked in at about 4 pm and settled down for the night.....Stay tuned for the last day on the road.

Thanks for visiting.

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