100 acres of natural preserve located between Las Cruces and El Paso

Welcome to the Lake of La Mesa Ranch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Information of Las Cruces and the Mesilla Valley, New Mexico

 

 

and

 

The Lake La Mesa Wildlife Preserve

 

 

courtesy of

 

Branigan Cultural Center’s permanent exhibit: Crossroads of History.  The Branigan Cultural Center is part of the City of Las Cruces’ Museum System.

http://www.las-cruces.org/public-services/museums/branigan.shtm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first people in the Mesilla Valley arrived ten thousand years ago, setting up temporary camps along the Rio Grande. They hunted buffalo, antelope, and deer along the marshes bordering the river and the surrounding grasslands. When the river marshes dried up and the game disappeared, they settled as farmers. They built pit-house villages and ditches to carry water to their fields. Still, it was a harsh existence, and a thousand years ago, these early inhabitants disappeared.

The first Spanish colonists passed near Paso del Norte, present day Juarez. Paso del Norte is approximately 30 miles South from the La Mesa Ranch Lake. Indians greeted them with the cry manxos y amigos, declaring themselves a "gentle and friendly" people. The Manso, as the Spaniards called them, shared food and supplies with the succession of passing explorers, priests, and colonists. The Manso ranged from Paso del Norte to Hatch. By the late 1700s, intermarriage with other tribes living near the Guadalupe Mission in Juárez had cost the Manso their tribal identity. The merged tribes became known as the Pueblo Indians of Guadalupe Mission.

In 1598, Spanish Conquistador Juan de Oñate and his followers founded the first European settlements along the upper Rio Grande. The new road from Mexico City to Santa Fe became the Camino Real. This Royal Road covered 1,500 miles and linked the New Mexico provinces to the religion, language, and architecture of the colonial capital. North of Las Cruces, the marshy riverbanks became impassable for caravans on the Camino Real. Travelers chose the Jornada del Muerto, or Journey of the Dead Man. This part of the trail veered away from the river valley in a ninety mile, waterless stretch.  Las Cruces is 12 miles north of the La Mesa Lake Ranch and less than 2 miles from the original Camino Real.

One hundred years of colonial rule left the Pueblo people near starvation and banned from practicing their religion. Popé, a San Juan Pueblo religious leader, unified the Pueblos against the Spanish. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 left one-third of New Mexico's Spanish population dead. The rest fled to the El Paso del Norte Missions. Spain reclaimed New Mexico in 1692, but the Pueblo Revolt delayed European settlement in the region for more than a century.

Guadalupe Indians

The Guadalupe Mission Indians' descendants helped settle the Mesilla Valley in the mid-1800s. By the turn of the century, tribal government had moved from Paso del Norte to Las Cruces. It became associated with Saint Genevieve's Catholic Church. In 1910, the annual Guadalupe Day Fiesta moved to the nearby village of Tortugas and the new Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Today, the Piro-Manso-Tiwa still celebrate their heritage with feast days and an annual pilgrimage to nearby Tortugas Mountain.  The Mesilla Valley includes the flood plain from Las Cruces south to Paso del Norte. the Tortugas Mountain is 10 miles from the Lake Ranch.

Mescalero Apaches

The Apache migrated here in the early 1500s. They claimed southern New Mexico as their winter hunting grounds. They raided Spanish caravans and stole horses, which kept the Spanish from settling the Mesilla Valley until the 1830s. Eventually, the U.S. Army starved the Mescalero into submission. On May 27, 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant established the Mescalero Reservation in the White and Sacramento Mountains. The reservation is home to more than 3,000 Apaches, comprised of Mescalero, Chiricahua, and Lipan Apache tribes. Mescalero is 90 miles north east of the ranch.

Mexican Rule

By the early 1800s, Spain's control of the Americas weakened. Mexico revolted. In 1821, Mexico won independence and control over New Mexico. Unlike the Spanish, the new government allowed outside trade and opened the Camino Real to foreign merchants. William Becknell opened the Santa Fe Trail from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe. In Santa Fe, it connected to the northern part of the old Camino Real, which became known as the Chihuahuan Trail. This Santa Fe trade created a vast new market for American goods and expanded American influence.

Mexican Settlement: Doña Ana

By 1839, the communities at Paso del Norte, Juárez and El Paso, had a combined population of 4,000. Mexico issued new land grants to spur settlement upriver from El Paso. In 1843, thirty-three settlers founded the Doña Ana Bend Colony. This new village was the first Mexican settlement in the Mesilla Valley. The colonists completed the acequia madre, or "mother" irrigation ditch, in time for spring planting.

War with Mexico

Under the idea of Manifest Destiny, Americans viewed westward expansion to the Pacific as a right and a necessity. U.S. attempts to buy western lands from Mexico failed. The U.S. set into motion events that lead to a declaration of war on May 13, 1846. By December, U.S. Army Colonel Alexander Doniphan had moved his troops to Doña Ana. Outnumbered, he marched to meet the Mexican Army in the Battle of Brazito, about 9 miles south of Las Cruces. Despite the odds, the U.S. won the battle in less than an hour.  Dona Ana is about 18 miles north and Brazito is about 5 miles east of the Lake Ranch.

The U.S.-Mexican war ended in May 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. It granted the United States lands from Texas to California. By then, Doña Ana was teeming with Americans claiming rights to undeeded lands. Fearing the loss of their traditional way of life, the villagers appealed to the U.S. government to lay out a separate town for these newcomers.

 

Founding of Las Cruces

The site for the new American town lay six miles south of Doña Ana near a stand of crosses marking the graves of travelers and soldiers. The landmark crosses gave the town its name - Las Cruces. In 1849, U.S. Army surveyors lead by Lieutenant Delos Bennett Sackett divided Las Cruces into 84 blocks. They used a rawhide rope as a measure and reserved one block each for a church and a cemetery. After the survey, family leaders drew lots to determine which property they would own.

Building Begins

Due to the shortage of lumber, the primary building material was adobe, a mix of mud and straw dried in the sun. Logs from cottonwood trees were used for roof supports, called vigas. Jacales, primitive mud-plastered mesquite post and brush dwellings, were another building type. Outlying farms relied on acequias, or irrigation ditches, to carry water from the Rio Grande for their crops of grapes, chile, corn and beans.

La Mesilla

La Mesilla, founded March 1, 1850, was named "little table" for its tableland site near the Rio Grande. Its residents were Mexican loyalists from Dona Ana and Mexico. A center for trade and farming, Mesilla became the county seat when Dona Ana County formed in 1852. Mesilla served as a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail Company stage route from St. Louis to San Francisco from 1858 to 1861. By 1860, Mesilla had more than 2,000 residents, twice that of Las Cruces. Both the U.S. and Mexico claimed ownership of the growing village. Mesilla town center is 10 miles from the Lake Ranch.

Gadsden Purchase

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo required Mexico and the U.S. to agree on a new international border. The U.S. wanted a portion of northern Mexico for a railroad to California. Mexico opposed this boundary line. The U.S. Minister to Mexico, James Gadsden, traveled to Mexico to settle the dispute. He negotiated the purchase of a strip of land that now forms the southern portions of New Mexico and Arizona for $10 million. This strip became the last piece of land added to the continental United States. The Gadsden Purchase, ratified on April 25, 1854, also secured the Mesilla Valley and the village of Mesilla within the U.S. border.

Civil War

At the outbreak of the Civil War, a crucial supply route crossed southern New Mexico. It provided access to gold mines in California and Colorado, and Pacific Ocean seaports. On July 25, 1861, Confederate Colonel John R. Baylor and 250 Texas Volunteers marched into Mesilla. They received a warm welcome from Southern sympathizers. Baylor proclaimed New Mexico from Socorro south as part of the Confederate Territory of Arizona. He then named himself military governor. In March 1862, the Confederates were defeated at the Battle of Glorieta Pass. They retreated to Texas, ending Confederate control of the region. Socorro is approximately 120 miles north of the Lake Ranch.

Skirmish at Mesilla: 500 Union troops from Fort Fillmore fought Baylor in a skirmish near Mesilla on July 25, 1861. Defeated, the Union retreated to Fort Fillmore. That night Major Isaac Lynde ordered the fort's supplies and equipment destroyed to keep them from enemy hands. At daybreak, Lynde's troops along with 100 women and children began a retreat to Fort Stanton a hundred miles away. About noon, Baylor's men caught up with them at San Augustin Springs. There they found the road "lined with fainting, famished soldiers, who threw down their arms as we passed and begged for water."

California Column

In the spring of 1862, Union General James H. Carleton and 2,300 soldiers of the California Column marched into Mesilla. They were welcomed with champagne, dinners, and balls. Wary of rebel supporters, Carleton refused to set up headquarters in Mesilla. Instead, he set up camp in Las Cruces. His troops used Saint Genevieve's plaza as a parade ground. The soldiers spent most of their time responding to Indian depredations, establishing martial law, and constructing roads and ditches.

Many members of the California Column stayed in the area after their military service. Sergeant John D. Barncastle farmed, kept a store, and entered politics. He married the daughter of Pablo Melendres, founder of Dona Ana. Sergeant Albert J. Fountain married into the prominent Perez family of Mesilla. Lieutenant Colonel William L. Rynerson involved himself in law, mining, farming, the railroad and local politics.

Fort Selden

After the Civil War, the U.S. Army turned to the "Indian problem." In 1865, General James H. Carleton established Fort Selden, one in a network of forts used in an aggressive military campaign against the Apaches. The first troops assigned to Fort Selden were Black soldiers. Many had served in the Union Army during the Civil War. At war's end, they served in the west. The Indians called them Buffalo Soldiers because they thought the men's hair resembled a buffalo's mane and because the soldiers' shared the buffalo's tenacity in battle. Soldiers at Fort Selden saw little action. The fort closed in 1878. The pursuit of Geronimo caused its reactivation in 1880. It permanently closed in 1891. Ft Selden was 27 miles from the Lake Ranch.

Ranching

In the decades following the Civil War, the cattle industry dominated the region and fueled many of the legends of the west. In the late 1860s, Texas cattlemen moved into New Mexico. Their ranches supplied beef to army forts and Indian reservations. John Chisum, established a ranch near Roswell. In the 1870s, men drove thousands of cattle from Roswell past Las Cruces to the Indian agencies in Arizona. This path became known as the Western Chisum Trail.

Thomas J. Bull established San Augustin Ranch in the Organ Mountains. W.W. Cox bought the ranch in the late 1800s. Cox expanded the ranch to 150,000 acres. In 1945, the federal government used eminent domain to take over 90 percent of the Ranch, establishing the White Sands Missile Range.  The Organ Mountains are approximately 10 miles to the peaks from the Lake Ranch; White Sands is another 10 to 15 miles on the other side of the mountains.

Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett

The Lincoln County War, 1876 to 1879, was a complex struggle for economic and political power. The lawless New Mexico frontier set the stage for New Mexico's most notorious outlaw, Billy the Kid. In 1881, local newspapers regularly reported sightings of William Bonney, alias Billy the Kid. Bonney was arrested by Pat Garret and jailed in Mesilla. A Mesilla jury sentenced him to hang in Lincoln for the murder of Sheriff William Brady. Billy the Kid escaped from the Lincoln Jail on April 30, 1881, killing two deputies. He avoided capture until July 14. Sheriff Pat Garrett killed him at Pete Maxwell's ranch. Billy the Kid is buried in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.   Ft Sumner is approximately 220 miles northeast from the Lake Ranch.

After leaving law enforcement, Pat Garrett tried his hand at several enterprises. He finally settled into ranching near San Augustin Pass in 1905. On February 29, 1908, while on his way to Las Cruces, he was shot in the back of the head and killed. Wayne Brazel, a cowboy on W. W. Cox's ranch, pleaded self-defense and was acquitted. Garrett's burial in Las Cruces marked the end of the Wild West era in Doña Ana County.

Albert Fountain Mystery

In 1896, Oliver Lee was indicted for cattle rustling in a Lincoln district court. Albert Fountain attended the indictment. On his return to Las Cruces, Fountain and his eight-year-old son disappeared in the Chalk Hill area of the Tularosa Basin. His bloodstained wagon was found miles off the trail. Sheriff Pat Garret arrested murder suspects - Oliver Lee, Bill McNew and Jim Gilliland. Albert B. Fall represented the cowboys in the eighteen-day trial held in Hillsboro. It took the jury eight minutes to find the men not guilty.

Coming of the Railroad

New Mexico's first railcar steamed through Raton Pass on December 7, 1878. Mesilla Valley business leaders were eager for the railroad to reach the area. Troubled by political problems, floods and a weakening commercial base, Mesilla declined the railroad's offer to buy a right-of-way. Las Cruces did not decline the offer. The New Mexico Town Company, a group of merchants and developers, donated land to the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad for both a depot and the right-of-way. The first train arrived in April 1881. Las Crucens celebrated with garlands and wagonloads of "native wine." The railroad influenced nearly every aspect of life in Las Cruces. The first paved street in town, Depot Street (today's Las Cruces Avenue), led from the railroad tracks to town.

A Community Grows

Prosperity was evident in the 1890s as newcomers filled Las Cruces’ six hotels and eighteen saloons "to overflowing." The newspaper credited the railroad with making Las Cruces "the best point in the country for retail merchants to purchase their goods." Hispanic and Anglo merchants belonged to the same civic organizations. They socialized together at parties and balls. Many residents participated in the Community Band and in the Las Cruces Dramatic and Musical Club. Through the efforts of the Women's Improvement Association, the town soon had a park, a library, a hearse, and a water-sprinkling wagon for the dusty streets.

Shalam Colony

In 1884, John Newbrough established a utopian colony a few miles north of Las Cruces. He claimed an angel guided his hands to write Oahspe: A New Bible. The book inspired the founding of Shalam Colony. The colony included farmland and thirty-five buildings. The primary purpose of the colony was to raise orphan children in a strictly controlled environment "to become sinless leaders of the world." After Newbrough died in 1891, the colony declined financially. In 1907, the farm was sold and Shalam was abandoned.

Las Cruces College

Las Cruces College opened in the fall of 1888 in a two-room adobe building. It combined elementary, college preparatory and business schools. Indiana educator Hiram Hadley was its first President.

In 1889, the New Mexico territorial legislature created a land grant college - the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. The new school merged with Las Cruces College and opened in January 1890. In June 1894, Hadley presented diplomas to four men and one woman in the college's first graduating class. In 1960, the name was changed to New Mexico State University.

Health

Health seekers migrated to Las Cruces at the turn of the century. They believed that New Mexico's mountain air and "altitude therapy" would cure tuberculosis. In 1897, Eugene Van Patten's Dripping Springs camp became the first sanatorium in southern New Mexico. High in the Organ Mountains, it featured a thirty-two room hotel.

Las Cruces benefited from the influx of physicians who came to treat tubercular patients. Dr. Robert E. McBride, who came to Las Cruces in 1904 for his wife's health, opened a sanatorium in town and, in 1935. He also established the first community hospital. By World War II, new treatments, including drug therapy, eliminated the need for expensive altitude cures. Dripping Springs was abandoned. Today Dripping Springs is a recreation area jointly managed by the Nature Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management. Dripping Springs is approximately 15 miles from the Lake Ranch.

Statehood

By the time New Mexico became a state on January 6, 1912, it had been bypassed for statehood fifteen times. In the 1850s, New Mexico fell victim to the national debate that tied statehood to slavery. New Mexico also suffered from a perception in Washington that its largely Spanish-speaking, Catholic population was too "foreign." New Mexicans themselves contributed to delays, failing to ratify a state constitution. New Mexico finally approved a constitution in 1911. It protected Hispanic New Mexicans' right to vote and their right to an education. After sixty-two years as a territory, the new state elected William C. McDonald as its first governor. Albert B. Fall and Thomas B. Catron were elected U.S. Senators.

Elephant Butte Dam

Cycles of flood and drought around the turn of the century threatened the economic stability of agriculture in the Mesilla Valley. The newly formed Bureau of Reclamation conducted a feasibility study for a proposed dam at Elephant Butte, in 1903. The dam was completed in 1916. It was the largest of its kind in the world. The Elephant Butte Irrigation District manages water allotment.

The availability of water made possible by the dam affected both land ownership and cropping patterns. The dam attracted new families, from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They worked hard clearing bosques and leveling sand dunes to create new farms. To pay their share of the construction and irrigation costs, Farmers switched from growing fruits and vegetables to more profitable crops such as cotton. Cotton, along with chile and pecans, are an important part of the county's economy.  Elephant Butte dam is approximately 70 miles north of the Lake Ranch.

Farmers

Fabian Garcia, a young orphan, came from Mexico with his grandmother in the 1880s. They found work with the Thomas Casad family. The Casads owned 5,000 acres south of Mesilla. Casad sent Garcia to college, where he was a member of New Mexico College A&M's first graduating class. In 1914, he was named station horticulturalist and first director of the Agricultural Experiment Station at the college. He was successful in producing new varieties of chile, onions, and pecans. He championed poor Hispanic students and bequeathed the money to build them a dormitory at the college.

Francis BoyerAnother early farmer, Francis Boyer walked from Georgia to New Mexico in 1899. Near Roswell, the college-educated Boyer founded Blackdom. It was a settlement where Blacks could raise families, own land, and live in peace. By 1920, irrigation had proved unsuccessful, and many of the residents followed Boyer to establish a new town at Vado. Boyer leased 250 acres of farmland where he profited from growing cotton. Gradually, he bought small tracts of land, eventually owning 500 acres. Within a decade, Vado had two Baptist churches, a Catholic mission, and a school with 175 black students. Boyer also established a small college where he and his wife taught classes. Francis Boyer died in 1949 and his dream of a Black community faded.  Vado is 3.5 miles from the Lake Ranch.

In 1909 W.J. Stahmann, a buggy-maker, left Wisconsin for the southwest. Settling first near El Paso, Stahmann raised cotton and tomatoes, built a canning plant, and operated four cotton gins. In 1926, W.J. purchased 2,900 acres in the Mesilla Valley. It became Stahmann Farms. In 1932, Stahmann's son, Deane, bought a shipment of pecan trees at cut-rate prices from a farmer unable to pay for them. Deane expanded the farm to 4,000 acres, replacing cotton fields with pecan orchards. The farm included a processing plant, housing for 150 families, a store, a health clinic, a school, and a church. Today, Stahmann Farms is one of the largest pecan producers in the world. Stahmann’s Ranch is 3 miles from the Lake Ranch.

John Nakayama joined about a dozen Japanese farmers in the valley in 1919. He leased land on the old Shalam Colony farm. By the time he had saved enough to buy land, a 1918 New Mexico land law excluded "persons ineligible for citizenship" from owning property. Therefore, he bought it in the name of his American born son, Carl. By the 1930s, his family and as many as fifty workers from nearby Doña Ana were harvesting 300 acres of cantaloupe on one of his farms. During World War II, Japanese farmers in the valley had their business assets frozen and their homes searched. Fear of a Japanese takeover prompted valley landowners to pledge not to sell land to Japanese-Americans. Four of Nakayama's sons served in the war, where the youngest, Roy, was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and held as a prisoner of war. When Roy returned home to finish college, he was refused admission. His former college professors challenged the decision. He was soon admitted. Roy's research in developing chile varieties contributed more than $10 million a year to New Mexico's economy by 1988.

Pancho Villa's Raid

Pancho VillaThe Mexican Revolution spilled over into the U.S. when Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico on March 9, 1916. Villistas torched and looted the town. They killed seventeen Americans. Soldiers stationed at Columbus quickly pursued the Villistas into Mexico. In the days after the raid, thirty New Mexico College A&M students were called to border duty. General "Black Jack" Pershing and 11,000 troops spent nearly a year in Mexico tracking Villa. Pancho Villa escaped capture and was assassinated in 1923. As a prelude to World War I, the Punitive Expedition marked the first time the army used trucks and airplanes under combat conditions.  Columbus, NM is approximately 57 miles southeast from the Lake Ranch.  Pancho Villa is 4th from the left.

 

The Great Depression

In 1931, a threat of a run on the First National Bank of Las Cruces prompted its closing. They promised to reopen when the "hysteria subsides." It remained closed fifty-five days. In the 1930s, New Mexico's farmland prices dropped to $4.95 an acre, among the lowest in the United States. Mesilla Valley farmers, heavily dependent upon cotton, saw its price fall to four cents a pound. In hopes of raising prices, the government paid farmers not to plant cotton.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs put people to work. Young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built flood control projects at Elephant Butte Dam. Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers built three schools in Las Cruces, including Court Junior High. They also built numerous tourist and recreation facilities in the area.

Picacho Avenue earned the nickname "Little Oklahoma" when it became a thoroughfare for refugees bound for California. Stranded and destitute, travelers sold their belongings for gas money. This roadside trade was the precursor of Picacho Avenue's antique and second-hand stores.

World War II

The year after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, enrollment at New Mexico College A&M fell from 935 to 209. With many of the students at war, the campus was utilized by the Army Specialized Training Program. By the end of the war, 124 of the college's former students had died in military service.

Eighteen hundred men of the New Mexico National Guard were sent to the Philippines in 1941. The islands fell to the Japanese in April 1942. Taken prisoner, the American troops were forced to march more than sixty miles through intense heat with almost no water or food. Known as the Bataan Death March, less than half of the prisoners survived. There were thirty-one soldiers from the Las Cruces area on the March, only fourteen survived.

Resentment against the Japanese was so high that the Emergency Farm Labor Program could not use Japanese war prisoners to work on Mesilla Valley farms. Instead, Italian prisoners picked cotton. In July 1944, German prisoners replaced the Italians. They worked on local farms until 1946. Generally, the prisoners of war were valued as wartime laborers.

Wartime meant rationing everything from gasoline to sugar to tires. In 1942, Dona Ana County invested $93,894 in war bonds and stamps, more than twice its quota. Children brought dimes to school on Wednesdays to buy war bond stamps. College girls volunteered to pick cotton. Las Crucens also held drives to collect scrap metal, rubber, and tin foil for the war effort.

White Sand Missile RangeAt 5:30 a.m., July 16, 1945, scientists from Los Alamos tested the atomic bomb on the Alamogordo Bombing Range. Shock waves from the explosion broke windows 120 miles away. Officials said the blast was an accidental munitions explosion. In August, the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan's surrender five days later ended World War II. Trinity is approximately 120 miles from the Lake Ranch.

White Sands Missile Range

New Mexico became a testing ground in 1930 when Robert Goddard brought his rocket research program to Roswell. In 1944, the government took over the Alamogordo Bombing Range and nearby lands for the new White Sands Proving Ground. This area was approximately 100 miles long and forty miles wide.

 

In August 1945, German scientists, who had surrendered during the war, arrived at the testing ground. With them came confiscated V-2 rocket components. The scientists, including Wernher Von Braun, were cleared by security officials to work on the missile project. The Army's Ballistic Missile Program was led by Von Braun. After the proving ground was selected as a missile testing range, it was renamed White Sands Missile Range. Covering 3,200 square miles, it is one of the largest military installations in the country.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lake Ranch known as La Mesa Lake Ranch and preserve in the Mesilla Valley

 

The ranch parcel known as La Mesa Lake, changed hands numerous times over the years.  Gary and Elizabeth Beeson purchased the Ranch in September 1980 from Jules Bennett. Mr. Bennett purchased the Ranch from W.R. Weaver’s estate in 1977.  Prior to Mr. Weaver’s ownership, several prominent citizens called the ranch home over the years. Historical abstract documents are available going back to U.S. Territorial times in the late 19th century.

 

 

 

The ranch consists of 106 acres located within the Western edge of the Rio Grande flood plain known as the Mesilla Valley. The surrounding area to the West borders the BLM lands with little or no settlements for hundreds of miles.  To the immediate North are irrigated farm lands consisting of several small farms and communities, San Miguel Village and Mesquite are the more prominent.  Just North of San Miguel is the Stahmann’s pecan orchard, one of the largest in the world.  The city of Old Mesilla is 10 air miles due North of the Lake Ranch and Las Cruces is an additional 2 miles.  To the East of the Ranch 1.7 miles is the Rio Grande river, the Village of La Mesa 1 mile, and the El Camino Real (US 28) which is 3000 feet from the Ranch boundary.  The Organ Mountain range is approximately 5 miles to the East.  Thirty miles South is the Paso del Norte mentioned in many Spanish documents of the 16th century.  The El Paso city limits begin 20 miles South of the Ranch.

 

 

The La Mesa Ranch is one of the only properties with abundant natural species of plants and animals located within the Rio Grande flood plain.  The neighboring land, considered a very rich growing environment, surrounds the ranch and has been leveled for irrigated farming. Most of the neighboring land is either in development of sub-divisions or producing crops.  The natural lake located in the middle of the property is home to many species of aquatic wildlife, birds and land animals.  Range animals from the western mesa depend on the lake for cover, food and water. Migrating birds loaf and rest during the winter migration unmolested by humans and domestic predators.

 

 

 

Knowledge of the lake by the locals has been sparse for the last half century.  It is not visible from the adjoining roads and the property is fenced throughout. 

 

 

 

In 1974, a Spanish style hacienda with courtyard and pool was constructed near the Southern tip of the lake The house is still there as well as a large Santa Fe adobe structure located 1000 feet to the East. The adobe structure was built in 1995.

 

 

 

 

 

This report was created August 10 2008 by Gary Beeson. For more information and viewing opportunities go to http://www.viewlab.com or contact Gary Beeson via e-mail at gary@viewlab.com

 

For correspondence, send to:

 

Gary Beeson

PO Box 374

La Mesa, NM 88044-0374

 

The preceding Las Cruces historical information is from the Branigan Cultural Center’s permanent exhibit: Crossroads of History.  The Branigan Cultural Center is part of the City of Las Cruces’ Museum System. For more information on the history of the Las Cruces area visit the museum website

 

http://www.las-cruces.org/public-services/museums/branigan.shtm