|THE SANGRE DE CRISTO MOUNTAINS|
Las Vegas, New Mexico lies at the base of the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (The Blood of Christ). Las Vegas means "the meadows." The town is 65 miles due east of Santa Fe.
|MAIN STREET IN VINTAGE LAS VEGAS, NEW MEXICO|
Las Vegas, New Mexico was established in 1835 after a group of settlers received a land grant from the Mexican government. They laid out the town in the traditional Spanish Colonial style, with a central plaza surrounded by buildings that could serve as fortifications in case of attack.
|PLAZA IN OLD TOWN WITH PLAZA HOTEL IN BACKGROUND|
Las Vegas soon prospered as a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. During the Mexican-American War in 1846, Stephen W. Kearny delivered an address at the Plaza of Las Vegas claiming New Mexico for the United States.
|SANTA FE RAILROAD STATION WITH HOTEL AND HARVEY HOUSE IN THE LEFT SIDE|
When the railroad arrived in 1880, it set up shop one mile (1.6 km) east of the Plaza. Fred Harvey showed up and used one side of the station as the Hotel Castaneda, complete with one of his already famous Harvey Houses.
Turn-of-the-century Las Vegas featured all the modern amenities, including an electric street railway, the "Duncan Opera House" a Carnegie library, and the New Mexico Normal School (now New Mexico Highlands University.)
|HARVEY HOUSE GIRLS-TURN OF THE CENTURY|
|THE YOUNGER BROTHERS: COLE, JIM, JOHN, AND BOB|
The arrival of the railroad on July 4, 1879 brought with it businesses and people, both respectable and dubious. Murderers, robbers, thieves, gamblers, gunmen, swindlers, vagrants, and tramps poured in, transforming the eastern side of the settlement into a virtually lawless brawl.
Among the notorious characters were legends of the Old West: the Younger Brothers, dentist Doc Holliday, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Hoodoo Brown, The Durango Kid, Handsome Harry the Dancehall Rustler, and the Cole Brothers.
|JESSE JAMES AND BROTHERS|
Historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell once claimed regarding the Old West:
"Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas."
|A CLOSE SIMILARITY OF THE OLD ADOBE HOUSE WE LIVED IN WHILE SPENDING A YEAR IN LAS VEGAS, NEW MEXICO|
In 1970, my husband and our two elementary school age children lived in Las Vegas one year while he taught at New Mexico Highland University. The school is such a beautiful small college, and the rich experiences we encountered that one year have always stayed with us.
Living in an old renovated adobe house was quite an experience, with its polished vigas across the ceilings, pine floors, and a very small adobe fireplace in a corner. How I longed for an even floor, straight walls, and doors that shut properly. Nothing in a 100-year-old adobe house lies as it should which became part of its charm. The foot thick adobe walls kept us snug and warm during that one cold winter.
The window over my kitchen sink looked toward the close Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and many afternoons a rain shower moved across, watering my flowers and garden, moving on, leaving bright blue skies.
It is a beautiful place.
Note: We moved on to Oklahoma where my husband earned a PhD and I taught high school. Stillwater did not have the same old wild west feel to it, but we did enjoy our three-year stay there, too.
Next move was to our present home in Central Texas, San Marcos.
Thank you for visiting Old Las Vegas.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas