Friday, September 20, 2013

Southwest Tour Monday

The night had been my sickest so I was really not interested in much. We were up early and went to the Taos square before the stores and shops were open. We have seen many of the Taos sites, but a few remained to be seen had we pushed. But we both decided there were other things to see yet this trip and we moved on. We headed towards Questa, a village of 1700 people that was founded due to Spanish land grants. We had bumped into it by accident three years ago and wanted to return to see the church there that had had some issues.
The old adobe church, founded 1830, had a crumbling wall. The Catholic Church did not want to repair it, wanted to demolish it and build a new building. The people put up a howl as well they should. I won’t go into politics of this affair, but I was eager to see this historic church saved. People had a hard time getting a foothold in the land here due to raiding Utes. (Ah, this is another controversial story—why should Spaniards think they could waltz in and take land from the Indians? Because they could?)  In the end both Spanish and French Canadians finally got a church and fort-like wall built to start colonizing the area.

So the local people three years ago fought to save their church. They were willing to do the work and raise the money or a chunk of it. They made it a National Historic Site. A local contractor made the adobe brick, and the people made the mud mortar themselves and applied it. This time the failing wall was repaired and the church wide open for repairs on the inside and other wall. A workman took time to show us around, teach us about adobe bricks.

When it came to replacing the choir loft as it was originally, the people needed a 12 by 20 expensive beam. So they went to the local forest and asked a park ranger. A huge tree was marked for removal. The men took chain saws…the cut, shaped the beam, and toted it up to the wall. The man talking with us said that the tree was probably planted in about 1790, and it must have been God’s plan that the people of St. Anthony’s of Questa to use it for a beam in 2013!  Much work is left but no doubt this industrious group of people with get it done.

                                  Original saloon in St. James Hotel, Cimarron
Moving on down out of the mountains and through the Red River area, we stopped for lunch at the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, NM.  Such history here! There are bullet holes in the saloon’s metal ceiling, rooms where Jessie James, Billy the Kid and others stayed. Lew Wallace, author of Ben Hurr, was supposed to have done some of his novel in one of the rooms. Visitors can still stay the night here, but in some cases they have to share the room with ghosts who live there.

                   Great bat wing doors but bet these weren't hanging in the 1800s!


It is always sad to reach this point where we again head for a night in Guymon. The land stretches out again, becomes rolling prairie and plains meaning we are heading home.


Sioux said...

Claudia--Fascinating historical tidbits...I almost felt like I was there, taking the trip with you...

Susan said...

Ohhhhh, glad they saved the old church, Bookie. Sorry you had some sickness on the trip, too. Your photos and descriptions are wonderful. Susan