Noble L. (Noble Lovely) Prentis.

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passed under a cloudy sky at five o'clock in the morning. Pulled
by two engines, the train of seven cars slowly climbed the ascent
till near the summit the fog shut out the prospect. The tunnel
passed, and the long down slope commenced, the fog lifted and
the clouds began to break. The mountains on either side seemed
to rise higher and to almost tear the drifting clouds, but erelong
they parted as the waves of the Red Sea parted before marching
Israel, and through an opening in the eastern hills a burst of
sunshine lit up heaven and earth as we descended to the plains
of New Mexico.


THE locomotive climbing the Raton Pass (where once the
hardy scout or hunter carefully and toilsomely picked his way
on foot), surmounting with slow but ceaseless labor the grade of
185 feet to the mile, never ceasing till the crest is reached and
the pines on the summit quiver to the whistle's blast, and then
feeling its way carefully down the slope to finally rush with a
triumphant rattle and roar from the shadows of the mountain
into the sunlight vastness of the plain, is a symbol of the slow-
ness with which a new and intense civilization approached the
confines of New Mexico, and the suddenness with which it finally
invaded and overran that hitherto silent and voiceless empire.

The locomotive has always seemed to me the perfection of
modern mechanism. It embodies so much power with a grace
that is all its own. It calls into play in its construction all that
the hand and eye and brain of the mechanic has learned, and is
perfectly adapted to its purposes. When it appears for the first
time in a country it marks the departure of the old and the
coming of the new, and not merely what is new, but what is

This thought has followed me ever since I entered New
Mexico. The old order, surprised suddenly, has not had time to
fly or to change, and stands mute in the presence of the new.
There stands the sun-burned herdsman watching his flocks in the
waste; here the Mexican woman, with her shawl over her head,
looks shyly from the door of the adobe hut, just as she has
looked for all time ; while the locomotive dashes by them and the
telephone wire is strung over their heads to communicate witli
ranches forty miles in the interior. There has never been any-
thing like it in the world before.

When one sees this country he realizes that nothing but the
railroad was powerful enough to affect it. The slow march of



settlements, such as the older Western States knew, would not
have crossed New Mexico from one border to the other in a
hundred years. The vastness of these tawny plains is beyond
the reach of descriptive language; the loneliness of the buttes,
each with its castle-like crest of rock, which rise afar against
the sky ; the gaunt desolateness of the ravines, torn by the floods
from the mountains; the ruggedness of the passes, apparently
sunken craters, the " volcano's blinded eye," seem to defy human
invasion coming by the means which other empires have known.
A solitary traveler is a mere dot on the surface, a mote between
the earth and sky ; a caravan is like a' piece of driftwood on
the ocean. Between the great plain and the Western ocean, the
goal of the traveler, runs a dark line of frowning mountains,
continuous, like a prison wall, and behind them are seen the
snowy crests of other mountains, as if to forbid further advance.
It is as if the inexorable Spirit of the Waste brooded over all,
and uttered to all who ventured here the command, " March on/*

Here is a country known to civilized man for three hundred
years, that in that period never produced an invention, nor wrote
or printed a book, nor had any commerce save that of wagon
caravans; now in the space of two years filled with railroads,
telegraphs, telephones, iron bridges and daily papers.

From Raton to Las Vegas the traveler sees on one side a plain
bounded by mountains; on the other a plain as boundless as the
sea, sometimes broken by the buttes of which I have spoken,
sometimes by a mass of jagged rock thrust up from the plain
like a wave. As a rule, it is grass tawny now, but green when
the rains come in July and August. Here and there are scat-
tered herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, numbering thousands
in all, but seeming few on account of the vast expanse over which
they range. They did not seem the long-horned wild cattle that
we associate with the southern prairies, but more like the domes-
tic cattle of the North. In fact, the very brutes have become
subject to the influence of the new civilization. The short-horn
has been introduced, and the old long-horned racer is disappear-
ing. The whole cattle business is passing from the hands of
individuals into those of corporations and associations. Rufus


Hatch, of Wall street, was at Dodge City the other day, on busi-
ness connected with one of these corporations, the capital of
which is furnished in the East. I think everything in this world
will be run, eventually, by a president, secretary, treasurer and
board of directors.

I have spoken of the locomotive as a symbol of civilization,
but there is another quite as expressive. It is the empty fruit
and oyster can. These are now strewed all over New Mexico
and the world. These evidences of departed concentrated pro-
visions are everywhere now ; in the wake of the Jeannette and
the trail of African Stanley. A visitor to the interior of the
pyramids finds the former receptacle of cove oysters, and if you
take the wings of morning and fly to the uttermost parts of the
earth you will light on a sardine box. When the would-be ex-
plorer begins to recite, " This is the forest primeval," his pride is
crushed by discovering the tomato can of a prior visitor. How
perfectly New Mexico has been subjugated is shown by the
amount of old tin strewed over the territory to tempt the appe-
tite of her goats.

Las Vegas was visited for a few moments, and then the train
was taken for the Hot Springs and the Hotel de Montezuma.
We saw, however, before leaving Las Vegas, a large party of
Philadelphia excursionists who had just visited the Springs under
the conductorship of Col. Edward Haren, of the Santa Fe emi-
gration, excursion and recreation bureau. Two or three parties
of New Englanders have been brought through the country, be-
sides the Philadelphians. It seems to be the purpose to exhibit
to the newly-enlightened New-Mexicans all the different varieties
of their fellow-citizens of the United States.

I have spoken of the dark range of mountains constantly
rising on ihe traveler's path as he goes south. Breaking through
these mountains is a brawling stream called Gallinas (double 1
sounded like y.) The little river has cut its way down to the
base of the mountains through wooded defiles and frowning
canons. Occasionally it runs through a little valley, seeming the
bed of some former lake, and in one of these little circular val-
leys, just where the river is to break through the last wall of rock


and debouch upon the plain, are the Las Vegas Hot Springs and
the hotels, and the group of cottages.

The Springs have been known nobody knows how long. The
Indians reverenced them, just as they did the Great Spirit Springs
in Kansas. When the Mexican colonists of the Las Vegas grant
came up from the South they knew their value and embraced
them in the land they took in severalty. Thirty-three years ago,
so Rev. Mr. Reed, who was then an army chaplain at Santa Fe,
tells me, the army doctors were accustomed to send soldiers, the
victims of their own vices, to the springs to be cured. The old-
timers aforesaid knew no more about the chemical analysis of
water than the writer of this, i. e., nothing; they only knew that
the water did good. When the Americans began to hunt up
everything valuable, an adobe hotel was built at the springs,
then the stone building, the Hot Springs House; and finally the
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe people built the Montezuma Hotel,
which I believe to be the finest frame hotel building in America.
There are larger buildings at Saratoga, but none so elegantly
finished. The existence of this fine building in a lonely valley,
traversed a few years ago only by a few Mexicans and burros,
is the most wonderful thing yet. Every stick in this great house,
four stories high and three hundred feet long, was brought from
the northern verge of the United States. All this mass of fur-
niture, mirrors, carpets, pictures, silver ware, and other details,
superior to anything I know in Kansas, was brought over the
mountains. Gas, water, electric bells, pianos, billiard tables, bar
fixtures, everything known to a modern and fashionable hotel,
has been collected here. Everything is finished and ready for
the guests; two hundred fine rooms await them. The bath
houses have a capacity of five hundred baths per day. The Ar-
kansas Hot Springs, known and used for the better part of a
century, have no such conveniences.

Desirous of seeing something of the surroundings, we took a
pedestrian trip four miles up the Gallinas. This streams flows,
cold and swift, from the snows of the Rocky Mountains. It is
full of eddies and falls and whirls and dimples, and has, when
running over the rock, the color of topaz. The mountains,


closing in a short distance above the hotel, leave for three miles
a passage for the stream nowhere one hundred feet wide, includ-
ing the banks proper. Occasionally a jutting cliff drove us into
or across the stream. A geologist would have gone quite wild.
Such strata, so many colored, so twisted, overlapped and braided,
I never saw before. Several times the stream was crossed by a
stratum of curiously-streaked rock, with bands varying from pure
white to red. The stripes were extremely delicate sometimes,
though clearly defined, not over a tenth of an inch wide. For
want of a better name we called it " Ribbon Rock." On the
slopes of the mountain I saw nearly every evergreen common to
the United States, save the white pine and the hemlock. The
firs were especially beautiful.

After walking, sliding, climbing and scrambling for four miles
the defile widened, and we came to a point where there were
grassy slopes and a wood-cutter's camp. Here we took the trail,
made by packers long ago, to return. The narrow trail led far
up the mountain-side, rising at times above the growth of the
pines. As we marched along, the sky became overcast with
leaden clouds. Far below we could see the windings of the Galli-
nas. The wind sprang up, and we heard the plaintive moaning
of the pines, and a few flakes of snow began to fall. In that
high solitude, and under that sky, and amid the snow, which we
could see was falling heavily in the distant mountains, we both
spoke, as if by a common impulse, of the little group in Bret
Harte's most pathetic story, " The Outcasts of Poker Flat." Not
doomed, however, to a fate like theirs, we pushed on, and were
soon at our temporary home, the Montezuma.

Here a pleasing and curious scene presented itself. Mingled
with the guests from all parts of the country, and visitors from
Las Vegas, was a group of country Mexicans, such as live in the
defiles of the Gallinas. The women mostly wore their black
shawls over their heads, but there was one conspicuous by a bon-
net. They looked wonderingly at the building, the palace they
had seen rise before their eyes within the last few months. A
man, with a few women, ventured up the first stairway and into
the long hall, with its carpets and bright gas fixtures. The


women stopped, but he ventured alone some distance, and then
called to the others to come on, as he saw no danger. At dinner-
time they ventured into the dining-room. The men wore their
hats in, but, when requested, removed them and placed them on
the rack, seeing which the lady with the bonnet returned and
removed her head-gear also. Their evident desire to conform
to the usages of society, and their quiet demeanor, attracted uni-
versal commendation.

This hotel is to the people a teacher. It will instruct them.
Its influence will some of these days be seen in a hundred now
unknown comforts in every poor Mexican adobe within fifty

The hotels at the Springs have been evoked by the same great
enterprise which has done so much for Kansas and New Mexico.
To the invalid or the tourist, who needs change as a medicine
for mind or body, or both, this resort is now open. I would ad-
vise that the visit be made not earlier than the latter part of
May or early in June. I would advise, also, that the first visit
be made soon, while the great change which this letter has dis-
cussed is going on. The weariness of this world is the uniformity
to which it is being reduced. While there is something left as
God made it, let us for a time enjoy it. It is here now; it will
be gone to-morrow.


LAS VEGAS is two towns. The Mexicans, pushing slowly to
the northward, started a town in 1835, and with the railroad
came the Americans and started another, and the two lie in long
lines, parallel with each other, with a row of houses and a street-
car line connecting them like the membrane which harnessed the
Siamese twins. The American town has the railroad buildings
for its nucleus, and is all American. The Mexican town is not
entirely Mexican, and the plaza is a compromise. Iron-front
brick buildings, such as small towns have in Kansas, surround
it; but many of the names on the signs are Mexican. The most
frequent name is Romero. I think Romero must be Mexican for

New Las Vegas has its daily newspaper, the Optic, and the
other Las Vegas the Gazette, but neither is published on what
may be called Mexican territory. Old Las Vegas has the Jesuits'
College and the great Catholic church, and the largest hotel,
"The Plaza." The post office is as near as possible made conve-
nient to both towns.

Las Vegas has a boom. It claims 7,000 people, and business
lots have been sold for $3,000. It shares in the glories of the
Hot Springs, from which it is only six miles distant. It is the end
of a railroad division. It has all the elements of a Kansas town,
when said town is " on the rise."

Las Vegas is the first town of importance where a traveler
coming south on the Santa Fe can see the Mexican idea of town-
building. After he passes that point the novelty will wear off.
In Las Vegas there is a district called "The Hill," which is
almost exclusively Mexican. It is to them a favorable spot, be-
ing utterly barren. The country Mexican seeks the water-side;
the town Mexican the hills. The best soil for the cultivation of
"adobes" is a coarse gravel mixed with sand, and strewn with



judicious liberality with rocks the size of a sixty-four-pound shot.
No vestige of anything green should grow anywhere near; no
tree, no flower, no blade of grass. On this firm foundation the
square, flat-roofed mud house is reared. It is all dry mud except
the door, the window, and the posts which hold the roof and pro-
ject beyond the eaves. It is necessary, too, that the mud should
be ugly mud. In the composition of adobe bricks, the soil is
generally dug up in front of the proposed establishment and
mixed up with water earth, gravel and all; consequently -the
sides of the house are ornamented with small rocks sticking in
the wall. Out in front an oven made of mud is built. Every-
thing is now complete except to carelessly scatter a few dogs
around the outside, and insert some men, women and children,
especially the latter, on the inside. Standing on a bleak, wind-
swept hill-side one of these houses is a dismal sight. But the
tendency of the people is toward gregariousness. On regular
streets what seems a single house will extend the length of a
block. In other cases, the houses are built around a court-yard.
The original idea is to have a court-yard for every house, but
where one party cannot afford so much house, several pool their
adobes, and complete the square.

Las Vegas has a new church, built by the Jesuits a huge
affair, very wide for its height, and built of dark-red sandstone.
With its two square towers it is quite imposing. There is nearly
always something picturesque to be seen about Catholic churches,
and entering this church late in the afternoon I saw something
new to me. In front of one of the altars, on which candles were
burning, knelt some twenty Mexican women and several young
children. An emaciated cur sniffed around, and distracted the
attention of the little black- eyed boys. The devotions of the
group were led by an old woman, who recited prayers in Span-
ish in a high-pitched, nasal voice, and with the greatest possible
velocity. Once she broke out and sang a few lines, in a high
key which was almost a scream, and then resumed as before.
The women kept their heads and faces and shoulders covered
with their black shawls, and the scene was weird enough. At
last the meeting broke up, with a sort of exhortation by the old


female "class leader," to each of the departing worshippers. A
" female prayer meeting" seemed to me a novelty in the Catho-
lic church.

Taking the way freight in the early morning, the journey was
resumed. The long stretch of plains from Katon to Las Vegas
had been continued to the point of monotony, and it was agreea-
ble as well as unexpected to find that the road soon after leav-
ing Las Vegas entered upon constantly varying mountain
scenery. There was a change, too, in the air a suspicion that
we were going south. The mountains seemed less stern and for-
bidding than they had before; the pine forest which covered the
slopes took a warmer shade of green. We skirted what seemed
to have once been a huge wall, shutting in the waters of an in-
land sea. Here were capes, promontories, headlands, and long
straight lines of abandoned shore, and down the slopes were
lines marking the successive ebbs of the water as it sank. At
the crest of the seemingly unending range rose a perpendicular
wall of rock, such as is common in the Blue Ridge range in the
South. In the distance rose a snowy range, now in plain sight,
now disappearing, as the train wound on its devious way. The
engineering difficulties of the route were enormous, but were
overcome by the sharp curves, sometimes defining the shape of
the letter S, and the bold grades, once deemed impossible, but
now surmounted with apparent ease by the enormous engines
which modern locomotive builders have constructed.

It is probable that every defile and mountain has its story, but
in a country which, until recently, had few "abstract and brief
chroniclers of the time," these are only preserved by oral tradi-
tion. One mountain has, however, a melancholy celebrity. A
party of Mexicans were once driven to its summit by Indians,
and there surrounded till they perished of starvation and thirst.
Through the clear air two crosses can be seen, erected to mark
the spot where they met their fate. There, on the wind-swept
height, in the atmosphere where nothing decays, those crosses
will stand to tell their story of suffering and cruelty, to thou-
sands on thousands of passers-by. It made one's heart ache to
think that while those poor men were dying of thirst they could


see below them the windings of a stream of cold, clear water,
which irrigated, perhaps, their own little fields. It seemed as if
we would never get away from the doleful mountain. At times
I thought we had escaped it, in the windings of the road, but
another turn brought it in sight again, with its crosses, eighteen
hundred years ago and still the sign of voiceless agony.

Several Mexican villages were passed, sleeping in the sun, one
with a little church, a mere hut; another, San Miguel, with a
large church with two towers. There is a singular absence of
life or stir about these places. One could easily believe them
uninhabited. The men were at work plowing in the fields; the
women keep indoors, and passing by one may often see them sit-
ting on the floor in a circle, like Turkish women, conversing on
such subjects as may enter their Mexican minds.

All the road was interesting. The traveler who goes no farther
into the country than Las Vegas will lose much. The scenery
below is varied, and has the charm of novelty. Whatever form
these mountains take, they are unlike any others.

One objective point on the road was the old Pecos church, the
subject of a thousand legends. For myself I am no antiquarian,
and have no special theory in regard to the past of New Mexico.
The curious in such matters are referred to the essays by Major
Inman and others. I only tell what I saw, with a view to give
an idea of things present, for the benefit of future tourists.

Nothing in this country looks as I anticipated. I had formed
the impression that the ruined Pecos church rose bare and gaunt
from the midst of a level plain, but I caught my first sight of it
through the vistas of a pine forest, and far below the level of the
track. It looked, in the distance, like the shell of a burned
brick kiln.

We got out at Levy, a station consisting of the little depot and
the agent's cabin, surrounded by tall pines which gave forth a
balsamic odor. A red road, over which the teamsters haul cedar
posts and countless railroad ties from the forest-covered moun-
tains, ran down into the valley. We followed it, and soon came
into old fields covered with scattered dwarf cedars. The fields
looked like the old fields of the South. One would have said,


seeing them in the South, that cotton had grown upon them
within a few years. We kept on, crossing two or three deep
ravines, cut in the red soil; then toiled through the dried, sandy
bed of an extinct river, a hundred yards wide, and saw before us
the former site of the Pueblo of the P6cos.

Imagine a great spoon lying convex side up, and you have the
ground plan. A long sandstone ridge, perhaps seventy-five feet
above the general level of the plain and the dead river, forms
the handle. The ridge is in places not over 100 feet wide on
top, and is a bare, sun-bleached rock. Along its sides great
masses of stone have broken off and fallen down. The bowl of
the spoon forms a plateau of a few acres, and on it stand the
ruins of the town and the church, the ruins beginning where the
handle joins the bowl. Great masses of small stones and earth
are piled up, and from the heaps project timbers. The houses
were two and perhaps more stories high, and built around court-
yards, as in the present day. The outlines are distinctly visible.
Here and there are circular depressions where the grass shows
green. These are said by some to have been wells or cisterns;
by others, council houses.

At the end of the village where the bowl ( turned over) is the
highest stand the ruins of the church, its roofless adobe walls
rising in places to the height of thirty feet. It is, or was, a Catholic
church of the most approved order. Its interior is cruciform.
Here is the chancel, here the nave, here the altar recess, here the
entrance from the sacristy. The joists projecting from the wall
show rude carving. Where was the altar is a pile of earth.
We saw an excavation, and near by a fragment of a human
skull. Some curiosity seekers had dug from under the ruined
altar the bones of the priest who had once officiated there, and
fragments of his Franciscan robe.

This was the ruin; how long since the swarms of Indian work-
men raised its walls is not and may never be exactly known.
The town was an old one when the Spanish came in 1536. It is
one of the places connected by Indian tradition with the story
of Montezuma. Abbe Domenec's story being taken for true that
the Spaniards had possession of numerous Indian villages in


1542, this church may have been built then. It must be over
two hundred years old. It has been an absolute ruin for more
than fifty. Its preservation in its present shape is another proof
that there is nothing so indestructible as simple earth. Masonry
might have fallen; the natural rock all around has crumbled;,
but these earthen walls, five feet thick, unless destroyed inten-
tionally by man may rear their sunburnt front in the lone valley
of the Pecos for a thousand years to come.

Where man comes and goes away he leaves a solitude more
desolate than he found. Around the valley rose the mountains

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