Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hello Columbus

We explored Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, NM, today.  Columbus is about 30 miles south of Deming, NM (where we’re staying in our motor home) and three miles north of the US/Mexico border.

Here's the historical scoop on Columbus:

In the early morning of March 9, 1916, troops of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa crossed the border and attacked. Maybe they did it to steal horses and small arms from the US cavalry.  Another account said Villa attacked in retribution for US support of revolutionary (and later Mexican president) Venustiano Carranza. Or, the attack could have been revenge for a Columbus general store owner allegedly selling Villa poor quality ammunition. No one knows for sure, but 18 US citizens -- 8 military and 10 civilians -- were killed.  So were 90 "Villistas," as Villa's troops were called.

The visitor centers' film about the raid included interviews with people who remembered the raid, saw people shot, saw a hotel and other buildings burn, and who were hidden by their parents until the marauders left.  I had it in my head that only a few dozen settlers lived in Columbus at the time but about 400 people were there, including a Calvary regiment. 

After the attack, General John J. Pershing lead a “Punitive Expedition” that chased Pancho Villa in Mexico for nearly a year.  Villa was never caught.  But although the troops didn't know it at the time the expedition prepared them -- and Pershing -- for World War I, which broke out soon after.

In much more recent Columbus news, I read that the now-former mayor of Columbus, a former police chief and others were pleaded guilty in 2011 to smuggling guns into Mexico.  Wow.

Bev doing an inadvertent Jane Fonda in an early-day tank used in General Pershing's "Punitive Expedition." Behind me is he Pancho Villa State Park Visitors' Center.
Pershing's expedition into Mexico was the first time the US used vehicles in war and not just horses.  Jim and Cooper stand in front of the first grease rack ever installed by the US Army to support field operations. (I'm guessing this may be the only monument to a grease rack.)
Columbus, NM was the home of the first US Army airbase, established to support Pershing's expedition.  Here Jim looks at a display about the biplanes used.
After visiting the museum and park, Jim and I had lunch at Columbus's Patio CafeRight after I took this photo, two RV full-timers from Canada sat at the table next to us.  We enjoyed meeting you, Sheila and Blair!  We also met two very nice full timers from Texas by way of Massachusetts in the Pancho Villa Park. We didn't get their names but they own a brand new Lazy Daze; we had fun talking with them about their travels and their rig.
A side door at the Patio Cafe in Columbus, NM...
...and a sign at the cafe. But the restaurant was charming and the food and service great.


  1. It's a shame that there aren't more monuments to grease racks in the U.S. Budget cuts I guess...

  2. The Blog headline got us excited, RATS, wrong Columbus.

  3. Hi Carl! There as no High Street. But we still said "Go Buckeyes." And while this has nothing to do with the post, it would have been fun to have been in AZ during last night's game.