Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Quick Visit to Columbus, NM via THE CITY OF ROCKS

The Village of Columbus, NM
We’ll visit my novel, THE CITY OF ROCKS, for today’s post in order to return to what I always intended with the blog: to highlight places of interest in the great State of New Mexico. And the little border town of Columbus is unique among them. As our intrepid Confidential Investigator, BJ Vinson, speeds down the highway on the way to the town, he reviews some of the history of the place. The following scene takes place in Chapter 4 of the book.

I sped down Highway 11 toward Columbus. It wasn’t the quickest route to the Boot Heel country, but the town had once played a dramatic part in a clash between two nations, and as a history buff, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to sop up some of that flavor. Besides, it was getting late in the day for a drive over into Hidalgo County where the M Lazy M was located. I planned on remaining overnight in the little village named for Christopher Columbus just north of the border across from Palomas, Mexico.
The Impala breezed south over a landscape reminiscent of the drive between Deming and Las Cruces: flat, high desert terrain broken by blue-shadowed mountains in the distance. Heat waves rising off the asphalt were pleasantly hypnotic.
Columbus is an official, twenty-four-hour POE—Point of Entry—between the two nations, although it sits about three miles north of the actual demarcation line. Border City is where the crossings actually occur. Its proximity to the Mexican State of Chihuahua is what gave the place its brush with history.
A Casualty of the Villistas' Raid
         The actual story is long and convoluted, as well as highly controversial. Two revolutionaries, Venustiano Carranza and Francisco Villa, better known as Pancho, tossed out a dictator named Victoriano Huerta and then turned on one another. A Columbus merchant and arms dealer by the name of Ravel supposedly sold defective ammunition to Pancho Villa. When the guerilla demanded a refund, the merchant reputedly told him the Ravels no longer dealt with Mexican bandits.
On the morning of March 9, 1916, one of Villa’s generals attacked Columbus with more than 500 men. The twenty-four-hour invasion burned down a significant portion of the town and killed fourteen American soldiers together with ten residents. Another eighty or so revolutionaries were dead or mortally wounded. The raid led let to General John J. Pershing’s Punitive Expedition deep into Mexico.
My initial glimpse of Columbus was as a disruption astraddle the flat, monotonous highway. After entering the town of mostly one-storied adobe affairs—some painted in brash colors of green or pink—I found a bed and breakfast and registered for the night.
Santa Fe New Mexican Headline
In his brief, overnight stay there, BJ takes time to visit some of the historic relics, including Pancho Villa’s death mask, before departing for the M Lazy M Ranch.

I hope you enjoyed this abbreviated look at the border village of Columbus, New Mexico. Keep on reading, guys.


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