The Suitcase Lady


January 13, 2015, 8:12 pm

This blog is about Las Vegas. If immediate thoughts of a million flashing lights, frenzied crowds and easy money come to mind, you’re forgiven. I want to talk about America’s other Las Vegas, the one in New Mexico.

Located  where the Great Plains and Rockies meet, Las Vegas, New Mexico, sits on high meadows, called Vegas in Spanish. The city, 65 challenging miles from Santa Fe, is 6,424 feet high and currently has 13,691 people. It’s 638 miles and light years away from the more famous Vegas.

In frontier days, Las Vegas was part of Mexico, sandwiched between America, the Comanches and the Apaches. It took the Mexicans in Santa Fe 225 years to push east and establish a village in Las Vegas in 1835. By 1850, the Americans took over and the wagon trains poured in finding an easy crossing at the Gallinas River. The town became a prosperous stop on the Santa Fe Trail. Millions of pounds of wool and hides were shipped from New Mexico via LasVegas to Missouri. In one year, 1855, the goods moved on the Santa Fe Trail were worth an estimated $5,000,000.

The  Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe arrived in 1879 and mayhem, crime and saloons soon followed. Las Vegas became a railhead for a region the size of France, and the boom and lawlessness continued full speed ahead. By 1900 the city was the largest in the region.

But the same railroad doomed Las Vegas to a quieter future when it built a flatter route through the old Comanche lands in 1908. Albuquerque became the new cross rails point and grew exponentially.

Any lover of history and architecture will relish a walk in today’s Las Vegas….it’s a town frozen in time with 900 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Many buildings are meticulously restored; many others patiently wait to regain their glory.

Click below to see a one minute photo essay I made on a recent trip. This is my kind of Vegas.