Western New Mexico – September 2022 – Catwalks National Recreation Trail

The small mining town of Graham, New Mexico was founded in 1893 to mine silver and gold ore. To obtain the water required a pipeline was built up the narrow canyon, with a wooden walkway built on top for workers to be able to traverse the path.

Known as the Catwalk, this was in place for the 10-15 years that the town and mine was in existence. In the 1930s the WPA effort known as the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) rebuilt the catwalk for recreational purposes.

In 2012 this catwalk was destroyed in a large flood, leading to the rebuilding of the current Catwalk. It is a great engineering feat as well as a nice, shady hike up the canyon hovering above the creek.

The creek below is a favorite spot for people to cool off from the hot New Mexico summer.

As you proceed up the canyon you begin to run out of catwalks and have a small creek crossing.

Eventually you go as far as the trail will allow, as the rest of the trail has been damaged by storms, so it was time to turn back.

The entire area is very beautiful, and the Catwalks is a required stop.

Silver City, New Mexico – September 2022 – A Brief Visit

Our route through New Mexico took us through the picturesque town of Silver City. The small downtown and nearby neighborhoods had a number of historic buildings.

Founded in the late 1800s it was known to be home to a number of characters and outlaws, including Billy The Kid and Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid.

Faywood, New Mexico – September 2022 – City of Rocks State Park

Approximately 35 million years ago a volcano erupted in what is now western New Mexico. Thanks to the soft compound of the rocks, and millions of years of erosion, what is left is an amazing square mile of large sculpted rocks, some 40′ high.

Since 1953 this unique place has been the City of Rock State Park.

The size becomes apparent when compared to the cars, trucks and campers in the park.

One daring tent resident has taken up residence directly underneath a suspended boulder.

Nearby Table Mountain dominates the horizon to the east.

City of Rocks is a great place to spend a couple of hours wandering around between the rocks.

Guadalupe Mountains, Texas – September 2022 – The National Park Tour Continues

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is about 100 miles east of El Paso, near the New Mexico border. It is about 45 miles from Carlsbad Caverns, making it a perfect day to visit two parks in one day.

The visitor center is one of the few structures in the park. It is conveniently located near the campground, as well as the start of the primary trails.

One trail goes all the way to the top of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. We chose a different trail, the Devil’s Hall Trail.

After a couple of miles you reach the wash that leads to Devil’s Hall. The wash is full of rocks and boulders, which for me, was too much to overcome to make it to Devil’s Hall. Still it was a scenic workout.

El Paso – September 2022 – Views from Above

The road that runs along a small mountain just north of downtown El Paso provides scenic views has the appropriate name of ‘Scenic Drive’.

From here you can easily see most of El Paso, and across the border to Juarez.

The houses on top of the hill appear to be the most expensive in town.

The overlooks provide a panoramic view of downtown El Paso, as well as the mountains behind Juarez.

The Manhattan Heights neighborhood below is accented by a large collection of cypress trees rising above.

A close up of the neighborhoods on both sides of the border.

This giant red X is a sculpture in Juarez that is (according to most) intended to symbolize the combination of Spanish and Native cultures.

With the glass eye in the center it also is thought to represent the Aztec symbol Nahui Ollen, for balance in the universe.

So much for balance.

Meanwhile back up on the hill is this large home with their own Statue of Liberty, visible from the border. You can’t get close enough to see if it has the famed inscription on it.

El Paso – September 2022 – Historic Missions

The El Paso area is home to 3 historic missions. All of the missions were founded in an effort to convert the native population.

We started with the Presidio Chapel of San Elizaro. The original building was constructed in 1789 as a fort (hence the name Presidio).

The buildings were destroyed in a flood in 1829, and thereafter the use of the fort was rendered unnecessary with Mexico’s independence from Spain. In 1882 the existing chapel was constructed.

In addition to the chapel there are other period buildings in the area.

Socorro Mission is about 5 miles up the road to El Paso. The mission here dates from the late 1600s, which again was destroyed by floods in the 1800s. The current building was completed in 1843, with a major reconstruction occurring in 1995.

During the reconstruction the original ceiling was repurposed and included in the remodel.

The sconces include artistic interpretations of the church itself.

Our final stop is at the oldest of the 3 missions, Yselta. Dating from 1660, this building too is a replacement for one that was destroyed in floods.

Artistic elements in the interior include tributes to the native population that the mission has served.

El Paso – September 2022 – Architecture

Our tour of El Paso architecture started in the lobby of the Hotel Paso del Norte, with an impressive stained glass ceiling.

A quiet Saturday morning was the perfect time to walk around downtown and check out some of the older buildings, starting with the exterior of the Hotel Paso del Norte.

The O.T. Bassett Tower was completed in the Art Deco style in 1930. Designed by Henry Trost late in his career, the building has recently been repurposed and is now an Aloft Hotel. It is nearly identical to the Luhr Tower in Phoenix.

The Martin Building was for 50 years the headquarters of the El Paso Electric Company, with a distinctive ‘USE ELECTRICITY’ sign on the roof. With the building’s remodel to condo’s, the old energy consuming sign has come down with a much more efficient LED sign proclaiming the new name ‘ ELECTRIC CITY’

The Union Bank Building at 401 East Main Street was completed in 2012, but retains the traditional Southwest look.

This classic building across the street from the San Jacinto Plaza was completed in 1926 as the Hotel Orndorff. It too was designed by Henry Trost.

From 1935 until 1970 it was known as the Hotel Cortez, a name that is retained for the ballroom spaces used for weddings. The rest of the building is now used for offices.

A few miles north of downtown is the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). The entire campus has a consistent architectural look known as Bhutanese. This unusual approach is a result of the wife of the dean of the School of Mines (Kathleen Worrell) reading an article in the National Geographic Magazine in 1914 about this architectural style.

After a large fire that destroyed one of the main buildings, she convinced her husband to adopt this style, and for 100 years it has remained, and expanded – even on the exterior of the football stadium.

One of the dorms in the Bhutanese style.

Our last stop on the brief architectural tour of El Paso took us to the Manhattan Heights Historic District to check out this great little 1919 gas station.

Just across the street is this classic bungalow being protected by a robot.

El Paso – September 2022 – Artistic Morning

With the 3 day Labor Day weekend coming up it was time to get out of town. At first the thought was to make the 6+ hour drive to San Diego, but they were in a heat wave with forecasted highs hotter than Tucson! So we went east to El Paso.

Saturday morning was the perfect time to walk around and check out the downtown neighborhood.

San Jacinto Plaza has always been the heart of El Paso. Starting in the 1950s there was a pond in the plaza that someone had let live alligators loose in. A series of alligators resided there until the 1960s, when it was decided they would be relocated to the El Paso Zoo to keep them safe from morons who abused them.

Today the alligator legacy is remembered with a sculpture.

The El Paso Art Museum, Convention Center, and baseball stadium are all located next to each other. The architecture and public art make for a picturesque setting.

The nearby Union Station train depot is home to a Saturday morning art and farmers market. While small, it had a nice mix of arts and crafts, and local food specialties like salsa.

It was time for a brief stop back at the historic Paseo Del Norte Hotel before setting out to see the rest of the city….