PANCHO VILLA STATE PARK

March 9, 2012

We are staying at Pancho Villa State Park. Its comfortable and quiet here. We hunkered down from a terrible wind storm that had Highway 10 closed, and wind gusts up to 75 miles per hour. We stayed in and felt like someone was banging on a tin can as the motor home did a bit of rock and roll, the wind blasting away.  Yesterday was clear and crisp and we walked the park. The park is very distinctive considering that it was the first airbase in the United States, Camp Furlong, and it is also the site of Pancho Villa’s attack on Columbus,New Mexico. Villa’s scouts counted 30 soldiers before his attack, but they were wrong and the attack met 350 American soldiers with a brand new  weapon, a machine gun.Villa was quickly dispatched.

We walked to the top of this hill where a placque displays the battle of how Villa’s men attacked the base. And, of course he attacked the town as well, intending to take over Columbus.

The Citizens fought Villa and their account is in a nearby Museum and the old Custom House visible from the top of the hill. We visited here in January of 2010 and the Museum is really well done as well as a private museum in town that has a replica of Villa’s death mask and many first hand accounts from the citizens who lived there.

In the intervening years, Columbus has made a big effort to honor the long years of friendship with its nearby Mexican neighbors, and Mexican officials from Chihuahua have cooperated with Columbus on the Museum and come here once a year to celebrate Camp Furlong Days, a parade and festivities that we will attend tomorrow.  The attack was 96 years ago.

Two adobe buildings from Camp Furlong’s headquarters are preserved on the site.

And the remains of a grease rack used to maintain vehicles here. It is humorous that the grease and petrol had to be packed in from the train station by mule teams.

When we visited in 2010, we crossed into Mexico and had delicious dinner in Las Palomas with fun friends and strolling musicians. With dismay, I noticed a sign at the park warning us that the most dangerous border crossings today are from Columbus, New Mexico, Fort Hix and Fabens, Texas. What a shame that the drug cartels have practically halted what was once a delightful place to visit. While it won’t stop the celebration being held here tomorrow, there has been, and still is, a lot of controversy about naming the park for Pancho Villa. You can click the two links below and read how people feel about it.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-03-09-1Apanchovilla09_CV_N.htm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/letters/2011-03-14-letters14_ST_N.htm

I prefer friendship to hostilities and agree with those who remember that America isn’t innocent of wrong doing and we should all move on.

Interestingly, the park water tank raises consciousness of the water crisis we will someday face and says:  You are drinking ice age water….

…what will you drink next year?

Hmmm!  Good question.

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