Saturday, October 10, 2020

AVAILABLE NOW! Abandoned New Mexico: Ghost Towns, Endangered Architcture, and Hidden History

Alright, following a two-month delay due to Covid-19 and an initial pre-order run to get my process down, I'm very pleased to FINALLY make "Abandoned New Mexico: Ghost Towns, Endangered Architecture, and Hidden History" available to everybody. Yes, that means there is now a City of Dust web store! There you can order a signed copy of the book directly from me, as well as find a book bundle, signed prints, and one-of-a-kind framed photographs. If you're near Albuquerque, Treasure House Books & Gifts in Old Town and Organic Books in Nob Hill have copies. We're working on getting the book into more independent shops throughout the state soon, and Amazon and Barnes & Noble are both shipping it now, as well. I'll happily send copies overseas, but postage is expensive (and the book weighs just over a pound!), so it  might be worth checking Amazon in your country first...if it operates there.

The book clocks in at 40,000+ words and 160 pages, and contains 150 photographs. It's broken into eight sections, which include: 

The Albuquerque Railyards
Central New Mexic
U.S. Highway 6
The Eastern Plains
Route 66
Southwestern New Mexico
The Old New Mexico State Penitentiary
Northeastern New Mexico
The initial response has been wonderful and I'm very grateful to everyone that has already bought a copy and/or helped spread the word. There has been a fun Q & A in Albuquerque The Magazine, nice review in New Mexico Magazine, and a lovely spread in the Albuquerque Journal's weekly "Venue" supplement.

All that said, please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to order the book via another means (i.e., Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, cash, check, trade...I take 'em all).
Also, as the City of Dust blog has been dormant for the two years I've been working on this book (and moving across state lines a couple times, as well), I really, truly hope to resume posting here shortly. 2020 hasn't been kind to plans of almost any type or description, but fingers crossed!
And with that...please stay tuned!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Abandoned New Mexico: Ghost Towns, Endangered Architecture, and Hidden History

Well, it's been just over two years since the last City of Dust blog post. In that time I've moved from New Mexico to northern Nevada, started a new job, and then started another new job. That's all taken a lot of time, but none of it is really why there hasn't been anything new here since January 8, 2018. What's really demanded my creative attention over the last two years is a book project, now officially titled, "Abandoned New Mexico: Ghost Towns, Endangered Architecture, and Hidden History." Coming in at over 40,000 words and with 150 photos (both color and b&w), this project has not let up since the idea first reared its head in late 2017. But I didn't want to mention the book until I was certain it would actually be published. Jinxing myself and all that.

So, finally, I can say that this thing is indeed coming out. The publication date is June 29, 2020 August 29, 2020 (yup, delayed due to Covid-19) and preorders are already available at BARNES & NOBLE and AMAZON. I will also be selling copies myself when the time comes--signed if you'd like--and maybe with some bundles and other goodies offered.

Anyway, I'll be saying more about all this shortly, but for right now I should mention that the book is titled "Abandoned New Mexico" to align with Fonthill Media's current series on ghost towns and derelict buildings called "Abandoned Union." However, the subtitle is much more accurate as while I include true ghost towns, such as Acme/Frazier and Riley/Santa Rita, there are also populated places, including House and Monticello, and historic structures both owned (Melvin Mills Mansion) and operational (St. James Hotel). In the end, I threw in pretty much everything and the kitchen sink, too.

So with that, please stay tuned and I hope to start posting regularly again here soon. I've certainly got plenty of fresh material on hand. But life demands a lot of attention these days, so we'll still have to take it as it comes for now.

Thanks to everyone for their continued interest in City of Dust over the last...nearly 16 years! Even though I wasn't posting I never stopped getting fantastic comments and wonderful recollections from many, many people. Again, thank you!

Monday, January 08, 2018

Music on the Wind: Guadalupe, New Mexico

Since the previous post was a special one on the Río Puerco Valley featuring the recollections of historian and folklorist Nasario García, it only seems appropriate to stay beside the banks of the Puerco and explore the history of Guadalupe, New Mexico, where Mr. García spent his boyhood. This vast, empty landscape, punctuated by mesas, canyons, and volcanic plugs, is one of my favorite areas in the entire state to explore.

The remains of the village of Guadalupe—also known as Ojo del Padre—are south of San Luis on Country Road 279, which intersects Highway 550 north of San Ysidro. It is remote, requiring a drive of many miles down dirt roads in varying states of maintenance to find it. So much the better then! The village was named for the Virgin of Guadalupe, while the earlier moniker, Ojo del Padre (“spring of the Father”), referred to a nearby water source. Oddly enough, when a post office was opened in 1898 the name used was “Miller,” but no one can remember why. That name lasted until 1905, when the post office became Ojo del Padre.

The first thing that one notices upon rounding the corner into Guadalupe, aside from majestic Cabezon Peak looming in the distance, is the wonderful two-story adobe building listing precariously on the side of the road. Built around 1905, this was the home and store of Juan Córdova and it’s often said there was a dance hall behind it. However, Nasario García refers to the lower floor of this ruin as not only a store, but the dancehall itself when the occasion called for it, with Mr. Córdova’s family living upstairs. It’s hard to argue with someone that was there, so perhaps this big adobe, which once had an impressive balcony, served all purposes. However, everyone agrees that the dances at Juan Córdova’s were major events. In the 1920’s, 350 people lived in the immediate area, mostly farming and raising livestock, and these dances, which began at sundown, could go on until four in the morning. Jose Tafoya would play the accordion while his brother Luis handled the guitar.

Yet just a short time later, in the early 1930’s, Guadalupe, like so many parts of the country, was hit by staggering drought. A full half of the cattle died. Then, around 1938, the log-and-brush dam which had captured water from the Río Puerco for local irrigation gave way. The government said rebuilding was too expensive a project for federal assistance and the communities along the Puerco were too impoverished to do it themselves. Then throw in the lasting effects of the Great Depression and the lure of employment in larger cities and Guadalupe didn’t really stand a chance. The school, the post office, and Córdova’s store all closed in 1958 as the last family left.

While a lowered water table and generally challenging landscape have kept people from returning to Guadalupe, you may find a couple folks hanging around. In fact, at least two structures are maintained and lived-in, one being the old schoolhouse. It’s not wise to go roaming around on private property out here, but if you see anyone nearby it’s worth introducing yourself and stating your business. Guadalupe’s few present-day residents are friendly and you’ll usually be given permission to take all the photos you want of the ruins on either side of the road, which include other old adobe homes slowly melting back into the landscape.

And that’s most of what I know about the history of Guadalupe. You can find a chapter on Guadalupe in “Ghost Towns Alive: Trips to New Mexico’s Past,” by Linda Harris and another tidbit or two in "The Place Names of New Mexico" by Robert Julyan. But I would highly recommend October 2017’s City of Dust post, “Nasario García Remembers the Río Puerco,” for some wonderful firsthand accounts. If you want to get deeper into the Río Puerco Valley, Mr. García’s book, ““Hoe, Heaven, and Hell: My Boyhood in Rural New Mexico,” cannot be recommended highly enough.

Speaking of getting deeper into the Río Puerco Valley, that always sounds like a good thing to do and so next time we’ll visit Guadalupe’s movie star neighbor, Cabezón, which sits just below the volcanic plug from which it got its name.

Until then, Happy New(ish) Year!