On a day of exploration, I visited Las Vegas, New Mexico, 26 miles south of Fort Union. The old train station is a wonderful 19th century, structure reminiscent of age of railroading that is considered golden. Built in 1899, the two-story brick station building was designed in the Spanish Mission style. Just adjacent the station is the Castaneda Hotel, an original Fred Harvey hotel. Fred Harvey built first restaurants and later elegant hotels along the rail routes of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. Coincidentally, much of the ‘Mother Road’, route 66, followed the same route. So when the trains began to be less important modes of transportation and before the inception of the Interstate Highway System, automobiles took travelers to Harvey hotels and restaurants. By the way, Harvey Houses were the first chain restaurants in the U.S. and an important part of women’s liberation. Harvey gave woman a chance to be food service professionals at a time when the only jobs open to women were teaching and housekeeping. It wasn’t much, but it certainly was a first step.
After a little shopping for food, supplies and DVDs, I made my way north to Taos. A lady in a store told me that most people drove it in an hour and a half. “It takes me two hours. I don’t go very fast on those windy roads.” For the record, it takes a photographer about three hours, and I could have taken longer had I stopped as often as my heart wanted, and I didn’t have some semblance of a schedule. I’d promised to meet Anthony, the Fort Union maintenance guy, for a beer at 5:00. So, I had to make my way to Taos and back (four and a half hours without stopping to photograph everything I saw) within self-imposed time constraints.
All along the drive, were the ruts of the Santa Fe Trail. I don’t know this with certainty, but it seemed that someone had built a house in one of them. As the road rose through the Carson National Forest, there was snow on the stream banks and the allure of mountain trout sitting in each pool. If only I had time to wet a line!
At La Cueva, there is an historic adobe brick mill. One isn’t allowed access to the interior of the buildings. It isn’t a government managed site. Still privately held, the owners allow sight-seeing visitors to roam around the old buildings and ruins.
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