Page images
PDF
EPUB

or the Holy Ghost. Four miles of walking through beauties, we passed on to the valley of Mora, one ever-varying scenery of valley and mountain, of the most fertile and picturesque in all New wheat-fields and pasture lands, and crossing sil- Mexico. This whole valley is irrigated by water very streams on br dges of rough logs laid side by drawn from a lake on the top of one of the surside or stoutly mortised lengthwise, brought us rounding mountains. This lake, the natives say, to the house of a miner named Dolan, who, in is bottomless. There are sluices arranged so as the interest of other parties, was taking charge of some timber near by for the erection of a mill.

He was glad to see us, as visitors were a pleasure in this solitary place, after a week had passed without his seeing a single human creature. In the hill fronting his place was the entrance to the cave of El Espiritu. Very few white people know of its existence, and very few have entered its forbidding portals, for in order to enter one must crawl on all fours for some ten feet and is shrouded in obscurity darker than the shadows of sin. Taking candles and great pine torches, we explored this cavern, with its various halls and chambers, for some three hours. In places on its walls we noted Indian hieroglyphii s, and in other places spots where the clay had been taken out possibly to make pottery. In one chamber, tradition says, the savages held their religious services, and Desmond, years before on a former visit, had found a tom-tom, or native drum. The stalactites were in no place very brilliant. We were compelled to crawl in many places and marked our way carefully, as only one of the party had ever been in before, and he only once ; so we did not feel particularly safe, and were glad to get back to sunlight once more.

From the cave we returned to Dolan's house, and, sharing provisions, made a very substantial meal; then taking our trout-lines we went over to the Espiritu Santo Creek, which here joins the Pecos River. Never before did I gaze upon such surpassing loveliness. Moss and ferns abounded and the wild violet bloomed beneath our feet. Lovely clematis trailed everywhere; wild hops,

THE BEGGAR OF LAS VEGAS. with their long light cones, were clinging to the dainty bushes; the wild cherry, with its deep-red to allow whatever quantity of water is desired to clusters, relieved the eye, and the cedar gave escape into a lake artificially formed on a lower forth a refreshing odor. The stately spruce, sturdy level, yet far above the valley. The upper lake oaks, and swaying willows all came within the always retains the same level. radius of our view, while the mountain stream was Near the end of the valley is the town of Mora, foaming over its rocky bed and dashing a fine nestling at the foot of mountains which surround spray which glistened in the sunlight.

it on three sides, and back of which in full view After a short stay in this lovely spot, during stands Jaccarita Peak, eternally covered with snow. which we secured upon our hooks some finny A pretty mountain stream flows through the town,

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed]

with green, and otherwise decorated with flowers and feathers, while at his feet two diminutive wooden saints knelt in prayer. These were about the size of the angel bearing a cup, and were dressed in robes of brown and red trimmed with yellow; the whole arrangement measuring fully four feet in length. It was suspended upon the wall and was greatly prized by its owner.

While staying at this place we visited some promising mica mines. The country glistens everywhere with mica, and when developed will prove valuable. Gold, too, is found in small quantities.

From Mora we proceeded to Las Vegas, the nearest station, having made a grand round; and again taking the train went to Santa Fé, which we reached near dark.

The conductor on the train, much to our entertainment, told us of two incidents which occurred on his run as among his first experiences. They

[graphic]
[graphic]

A MORA POLITICIAN,

witness a scene which brought vividly to our mind the tales of old. At the conclusion of a political meeting one of the poets of the land, a blind old minstrel, bent with age and with only a fringe of white hair round his venerable head, touched some plaintive notes upon the guitar and burst into an impromptu song in praise of the señor present, repeating between each measure the air, which was very sweet. The scene had in it a touching spice of the antique days of knighterrantry.

At the same house where this occurred I noticed an unusually large figure of what the Mexicans term santas, or saints, and with which every wellregulated Mexican household is supplied. This was a wooden figure of Christ, with a wig of horsehair, bearing on his head a green crown and nailed in the orthodox fashion to the cross, accompanied by the usual scroll and inscription over his head. To the left of him was a small angel with a cup in her hand shaped like an hour-glass

A TEAMSTER OF LAS VEGAS. and catching the blood as it flowed from his wounds. The angel was about as large as the are so characteristic of this wild country, and at first joint of the Christ's arm. The Saviour was the same time so humorous, I cannot resist the dressed as a danseuse, in white tarletan trimmed temptation of repeating them.

“I had only made one run down here,'' he said, benches ducked down quicker'n a diver. The " when, passing one of the sidings, we took on a old fellow never dreamt of drawing a pistol, but Simon-pure, double-fisted 'gray,' one of the pio- his habit of hitching at that strap served him in neers; those fellows who had lived a life in ad- good stead." vance of civilization, making the way easy for The many interests of this new land were curi. others, but always leaving in time to escape the ously presented in the “bus” which bore us from press and improvements, the foundation for which the depot to the town of Santa Fé—about half a he has so surely laid. Evidently he had never mile. A delegate to Congress was with us, and before seen the interior of a car, for it was some besides this great man there were two railroad moments before he concluded to seat himself, magnates sitting opposite, a corpulent representawhich he did cautiously and with that quick, tive of that omnipresent class, a mercantile "drumnervous, twinkle of the eye which men constantly I mer," some Jewish merchants returning from the on the alert for danger exhibit. Let me say here that in this country every man carries a pistol, and generally in his back-pocket. Well, as I had already seen the other passengers' tickets, I took my time about matters and slowly walked up to my man and pat my hand, with the usual quick motion, behind me to get my punch ; but before I could say • Ticket, sir !' quicker than powder the muzzle of a six-shooter swelled under my eyes, and a hearty voice rang out: "Put her back, stranger, I've got the drap on ye !' You may laugh, but I shook hands with him over a free ride, anyway. Another time I happened down the road when there was to be a service held in the new depot. Old Hays, a onelegged preacher, had permission to hold meeting there. Hays wore an old-fashioned wooden leg, strapped in place and held firm by a leather around the waist, and this being uncomfortable he was constantly tugging at it. Very few of the hands knew him, but it they thought it a good chance to have some

A NEW MEXICAN LAD. fun; and a very rough set they were that filed in that evening and filled the back seats. | East, a train news-agent, two men eagerly discusOf course, some few ladies and railroad officials sing some mining projects, and lastly a lady, tall were present. Planks raised on boxes and some and refined-looking, who said she was going to few chairs served as seats, while the preacher visit her brother, who was dying. stood behind an empty whisky barrel, on which We went to the principal hotel and found it a were his lamp and books. From the singing low one-story building, built after the Spanish of the first hymn to the close of service an fashion, with different courts enclosed ; and alever-increasing buzz and noise disturbed wor- though it was crowded, we succeeded in securing ship; but old Hays in his quiet way went on ob- a comfortable room. livious of it all. The forms gone through with, The town contains several ancient buildings, he prepared to dismiss his congregation with the interesting principally on account of the frailty of usual benediction. Let us pray,' he said, and the material used in their construction ; yet their slowly put his hand behind him under his coat-tails. durability is wonderful, the most notable being The sudden silence was wonderful, and as he got that oft-described adobe church and the building on his knees every mother's son on the back adjoining it, both nearly three hundred years old.

[graphic]

Among many other things worthy of attention and hard workers. To a certain extent they are there are several factories, in which native work under the supervision of the United States Govmen may be seen at the tedious task of manufac ernment, and are liberally supplied with machinturing their far-famed filagree work in gold and ery for their agricultural pursuits. Ignorance silver. This jewelry is of rare beauty and delicacy, prevails, and they are, therefore, naturally superand is in great demand. The process is simple, stitious. yet interesting. The pure metal is drawn into Their theory of the railroad is, that God himvery fine wires, two wires are twisted together self gave man the locomotives, for it is beyond after the manner of twine, rolled between steel their conception how a man could make one; but rollers, and when flattened into a thin wire with they acknowledge human agency in laying the nicked edges the artisan takes it and forms such rails, since they have seen it done. They visit designs as he may wish or his taste dictate. With neighboring towns to sell produce, and also a small blow-pipe he then solders it all together in blankets, for which they are famous. The women a frame of heavier metal. The designs are very do most of the work, but not all, and many of delicate, and some of them as fine as lace-work. the older women have a voice in council. Their

From Santa Fé we passed westward by railroad council-chambers are built of adobe, circular in through growing towns and a country producing shape, without windows, and with a single small excellent fruit of all kinds, including grapes, door ; here all things of importance are decided. peaches, pears, cherries, and apples. It is all ac From San Marcial, a rough, new town,-new, complished by irrigation; but as a fruit-producing even in Western phraseology,—we took the stage country it is destined to rival California, both in for a trip of over two hundred miles. Of all inthe size and flavor of its fruit.

vented vehicles, I think there is more discomfort The land is also excellent pasture, and part of compressed into a stage.coach than in any other it is peopled by the Pueblo Indians, who are thrifty | mortal conception.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

Ours carried fifteen passengers. I rode with Once again in the stage, we rolled toward the driver by the advice of an experienced friend, Silver City, a distance of one hundred miles. On and was squeezed in between him and another the way we stopped at the Hudson Hot Springs. traveler on the box. The four stout mules had a These springs gush from what seems to be the good load, yet over fair roads we made reasonable crater of an extinct volcano, and maintain a temtime and rather enjoyed the mule-nature of the perature of 140°. The flow of water is rapid, and driver's favorite, “ Lazy Loafer."

after passing through a house on the hill side, For a stretch of forty miles over what is known where it is conducted in a wooden trough, it as the “ Journey of Death” there is no water ex Aows on and is used for irrigation. Its qualities cept what is hauled to tanks at each station where are presumed to be highly medicinal. we changed mules. At Aliman, after various fail- From here to Silver City are many pretty ures, both by the Government and by private en springs, and quartz-mills run by water-power for terprise, water was struck at a depth of one hun. extracting the silver from the ore. dred and eighty-four feet; and the lucky digger Silver City itself, the centre of a fine mining was rewarded with a grant of five miles square section, is a thriving town of about twenty-five around the well and the right to sell water there. hundred inhabitants, and unlike other towns of A pretty windmill flaps its wings over the well and New Mexico, is thoroughly American in every keeps a large tank constantly full.

respect. It is bustling and busy, has several prosFor another fifty miles further on the country perous mills, and you can see here the coveted is not much better; but once across this we reach gold dust, the silver bricks, and great pigs of the Rio Grande Valley, rich in all kinds of fruit. copper without number. This place is the only Wheat, too, blesses the cultivator's labors, and incorporated town in the Territory, and lies at the soil also produces the El Paso onion, which its extreme boundary. for size and delicacy of flavor is without a rival. Near here are the old Santa Rito copper mines, These onions are pure white, and often as large which were centuries past worked by convicts in in diameter as a breakfast-plate.

the interest of the Spanish crown. Remains of I was here treated to some native wine, which the stronghold still exist, and the immense pile of possesses a delicious taste. The vineyard of copper refuse-ore testifies to the extent and value Thomas Bull, a pioneer, is considered as produ- of the labor. It is a relic eloquent with memories cing the best wine in that section.

of the mighty power of the Spanish conqueror and I noticed among the peculiarities of the place the wrongs of conquered victims. These suffering the mud fences, with cactus of a small spherical workmen were Indians, and in one of their sucvariety known in Spanish as pitalla planted along cessful rebellions the patient creatures made as a the top much the same as broken glass is used condition fundamental to their submission the elsewhere to prevent trespassing. This cactus, provision that thenceforward the mines were never however, bears a very valuable fruit.

again to be worked.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »