Church Tower with Cross, Chimayo
Chimayo, New Mexico
Karen Rivera 2007
Manzano, Founded 1824
Manzano, New Mexico
Manzano is one of New Mexico’s small almost ghost towns tucked away in the Cibola National Forest. With an estimated population of 54, the main attractions are its photo opps and the legendary Manzano Mountain Retreat.
The aerial shot below, taken from the Manzano Mountain Retreat website shows the orchards cut out of the forest.
Los Cerrillos has always seemed to me to be the perfect example of a New Mexico boom town. Once the unofficial capitial of the state, it’s now a modern day ghost town on South 14, a few miles north of Madrid.
After the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1880, shipping the gold, silver, lead, zinc and turquoise from the 3,000 miners in the area no longer had to be shipped by wagon. Los Cerrillos grew to feature 21 saloons, 5 brothels, 4 hotels, several dance halls and a real honest-to-goodness Opera House. The construction of Saint Joseph’s Church on Main Street confirmed that civilization had truly arrived.
Today, the washboard streets and dusty storefronts are a mostly undisturbed reminder of Old West meets celluloid. 13 films have been shot in and around Los Cerrillos, including the 1972 John Wayne movie The Cowboys shot just outside of town. A remnant of the production of Young Guns lingers on a two-story stucco wall. The real Wortley Hotel (Motto: No Guest Gunned Down in Over a 100 Years) is in Lincoln, not Los Cerrillos.
On weekends, Mary’s Saloon and the Casa Grande Trading Post, Cerrillos Turqoise Mining Museum, & Petting Zoo swarm with tourists from the City Different stopping off on the Turquoise Trail. Several seasonal businesses open up with the return of the tourists, adding whimsical touches.
Several artists call Los Cerrillos home. Metal sculptures and eclectic murals are scattered though the tiny town. A few of the gritty, sandblasted storefronts now make it possible to walk under the stars as you stay out of the sun.
My connection with Los Cerrillos was very short-lived. My job working weekends at the Tiffany Saloon and Melodrama ended when, as usual, my confidence in British mechanics was misplaced and my 1961 Morris Mini-Cooper needed a new engine.
My favorite kinds of church services are ones that happen outdoors. There’s just something about a group of people singing hymns outside under a blue sky early on Sunday morning that touches me. It seems to be more of a direct spiritual connection when the sound echoes directly up to the sky without a roof in the way.
Chasing down an overheard reference in an Old Colorado Springs coffee shop, I stumbled on another of Colorado’s unexpected treats. Driving through most small towns, you wonder where the end of town is. In Penrose, 35 miles south on 115, you won’t have that problem. The town ends after a few blocks when the paved road abruptly does.The town has no stop lights, a volunteer fire department, and almost no problems except for what seems to be a group of entitled clowns.
The Sunday I stopped by the Cowboy Church, there were more horses than cars. The steam rising in the cold air from riders and the huffing of the horses was a scene out of a cowgirl’s dream. When they read the Rodeo Cowboy’s prayer at the end of the service in memory of long lost friends, I wasn’t the only one in tears.
Rodeo Cowboy’s Prayer
Our gracious and heavenly Father, we pause in the midst of this festive
occasion, mindful and thoughtful of the guidance that you have given us.
As cowboys, Lord, we don’t ask for any special favors.
We ask only that you let us compete in this arena.
We don’t ask to never break a barrier,
or to draw a round of steer that’s hard to throw,
or a chute fighting horse, or a bull that is impossible to ride.
We only ask that you help us to compete as honest as the horses we ride
and in a manner as clean and pure as the wind
that blows across this great land of ours.
So when we do make that last ride
that is inevitable for us all to make, to that place up there,
where the grass is green and lush and stirrup high,
that you’ll tell us as we ride in that our entry fees have been paid.
These things we ask.
© Clem McSpadden. In memory of Howard Manuel, Jim Moore and Zachary Vanwhy.
Sunday Morning in the Garden of the Gods
The small villages along Highway 55 have always held a special place in my hard-scrabble New Mexican heart. Using the few resources available in the barren, harsh acres early settlers recycled the ever-present rocks into homes, walls, and churches.
In Punta de Aqua, the rough-cut stone San Antonio Church stands as a monument to an earlier example of sustainable and green building.
If you’d like to walk through Punta de Aqua at street level, click here to go to Google Maps, then click satellite.