Sunday, May 19, 2013

After the Depot: Encino, New Mexico

I spend a lot of time on US Highway 60. Not only do I travel the road for work, but I often explore its lonelier byways on my days off. Highway 60 once crossed the entire country and in New Mexico these two lanes of blacktop run through the central part of the state, from Texico to Quemado. US-60 essentially parallels I-40, but it’s usually at least 50 miles south and will take you maybe 5 times longer to travel. Sounds good to me! As one of my favorite stretches of asphalt anywhere, we’ve already visited some places along its route: Taiban, Yeso, Mountainair, and Pie Town among them. So, it’s high time to check out another: the mysterious Encino.

If you drop “Encino” into your Google search engine about all you’re going to learn is that the population was 94 in 2000 and the town encompasses all of 2.0 square miles. Luckily, Dixie Boyle apparently likes Highway 60 as much as I do because she wrote an entire book about the New Mexican portion. Aside from the above facts, which are straight from Wikipedia, everything else in this post is from “A History of Highway 60 and the Railroad Towns of the Belen, New Mexico Cutoff.” Thanks, Ms. Boyle!

The name Encino, which means “oak” in Spanish, was derived from the scrubby trees that once covered the central plains of New Mexico. As is so often the case, Encino’s location can be traced back to a spring, long a well-known stop for thirsty travelers. Prior to 1900, something like a fort was built nearby to accommodate the dusty and weary for an evening or two.

Bonnie Salas was the first to homestead the land that would become Encino and, at that time, the few people in the area were mostly raising sheep or cattle on a fairly large scale. In 1905, the railroad announced plans to establish a depot in Encino and people took notice. This was another common story out on the plains, and one that usually ended similarly, as we’ll see.

The Bond family bought 40 acres from Bonnie Salas, some of which they’d soon sell to the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway for the depot. That same year they also built the B.G. Bond Mercantile, which doubled as the depot for a bit and remained the only store in Encino until A.R. Cecil established a lumber company in 1908.

Encino’s post office opened in 1904 and both a Protestant and Catholic Church were built in the town, at least one of which doubled as a school. In 1910, the Encino Progress newspaper was founded and quickly went out of business. The Encino Enterprise gave the newspaper trade another shot in the 1920’s and managed to hold on for about a decade. Somewhere in there William’s Mercantile was built along Railroad Street and was later moved to abut Highway 60. Unfortunately, I arrived just a few years too late to photograph the long-vacant store.

The best known citizen of Encino is undoubtedly R.C. Dillon, elected the eighth Governor of New Mexico in 1927. While Governor Dillon was born in St. Louis and moved to Springer, NM when he was 12, he later worked at B.G. Bond’s Mercantile and eventually opened his own store, R.C. Dillon & Company. The building is said to still be standing and recognizable by its faded sign. But for some reason I didn’t see it. Maybe it, too, is now gone.

Dillon served two two-year terms and would sometimes have political friends over for dinner at his home in Encino. The Governor was also a big proponent of paving roads. Not a surprising interest to have given the muddy, bumpy tracks he would’ve had to travel. Highway 60 was originally a wagon route and it wasn’t until 1918 that it began to see some initial truck traffic. Even once cars became relatively popular, horse and buggy was often still the faster way to travel the area. While US Highway 60 was officially designated in 1926, parts of the route in New Mexico actually remained unpaved into the 1950’s.

In 1965, Encino’s railroad depot closed and few small towns could weather that blow unscathed. The high school closed in 1982 and many of the town’s adobe buildings are now melting back into the earth. However, it’s said that the old Works Progress Administration-built gymnasium still contains the southwestern-themed murals of Hallie Williams, which she painted for $20 a pop between 1939 and 1942. On my next trip through I may need to see if I can track those down. Can anybody confirm that they’re still there?

So, that’s about all I know about Encino. If you’ve got stories or recollections to pass along, please do! Clearly, much of Encino’s history is fading fast. Next time we’ll go just a few miles east and have a look at Encino’s bigger neighbor, Vaughn.

JUNE 2013 UPDATE: I'm pleased to report that Dixie Boyle, whose excellent book on US Highway 60 is referenced above, got in touch with me to provide the latest on the murals in the Encino gymnasium. Unfortunately, the news is not good. Here's what Ms. Boyle had to say:

"The murals are probably no longer standing. The last time I went through there, maybe five-six months ago, the town was tearing down the old gymnasium and school. They had half of it down and were slowly working on the other half. The half with the murals was still standing. I wanted to save those murals as they were so unique, but by the time I discovered them they were too far gone and would have crumbled if moved. I was surprised no one had thought of saving them before. You could check with the city hall in Encino and see if they are still there."

One of the reasons I started this blog was to document the many forgotten places that have attracted me before they disappeared entirely. So, it's pretty painful to realize that I could've seen the murals for myself if I'd just known they were there. I guess I should've read the first edition of her book, “Highway 60 & the Belen Cutoff: A Brief History”, a little earlier. It might well be worth checking with the city, but I'd be surprised if the murals still exist.

Anyway, below are Ms. Boyle's photos of Hallie Williams pieces, each painted around 1940. They are quite beautiful and I know of no one else that has photographed them. So, I give my heartfelt thanks to Dixie Boyle for sharing these.

The mural above and the one below were clearly the best preserved of the four murals Hallie Williams painted.

The mural below was already badly damaged several years ago.

One of the four murals had already crumbled when Dixie Boyle made her visit, so the three above are all that have been recorded. Below you can see the precarious state of the gymnasium and how two murals were placed. Clearly, without expensive preservation efforts, they wouldn't have lasted much longer.

NOVEMBER 2013 UPDATE: I just received a letter from Henry R. that is so interesting that I thought I would post it here. In it, there is reference to the above-mentioned Hallie Williams and another mural that she probably painted which still exists. Hopefully I'll be able to post a picture of that mural here soon. Many thanks to Henry for sharing his knowledge of Encino's history.

"Hallie Williams must be the wife of Ollie Williams that owned a mercantile store on the old main road that fronted the railroad. I remember he had a stuffed buffalo hanging on the wall that stunk to high heaven. He built a smaller store on the North side of Hwy. 60 in the mid '40's. I bought comic book's and candy there. In the early '50's he built the building on the NE corner of Hwy. 60 and Hwy. 3. There is a mural on the inside wall that faces the highway that must have been painted by Hallie as it resembles the murals in the old gym. I have a picture of it somewhere and email it to you when I locate it if you wish. Ollie also owned the old station in Negra that was still standing last year.

My dad Henry "Boots" R. managed the old Rio Pecos Oil Co. station across the street in the '40's and later a Gulf station on the NW corner of Hwy. 60 and the road that leads to the school. In the late '70's Boots bought the Williams station from Ollie and the sale included several acres on the North side of Hwy. 60, the old rock building/store, and the Harrison house.

After Boots death in 1982 I sold the Williams property to "Buttermilk" Dennison who owned the old Rio Pecos station across the highway, excluding the Harrison house which I still own along with six prime highway frontage lot's. I attended school with Kenny Harrison and some of his siblings off and on till 1952.

The information above is as I recall it but may be off on dates."

DECEMBER 2016 UPDATE: Dixie Boyle, who wrote "A History of Highway 60 and the Railroad Towns on the Belen, New Mexico Cutoff," has just published a short book compiling much of what can be learned about the history of Encino. Space is devoted to NM Governor and Encino resident R.C. Dillon, artist and teacher Hallie Williams, and the old stores and gas stations of Encino. A few words are even said about nearby Negra. Oh, and City of Dust gets a couple mentions, too! "History of Encino New Mexico" can be bought on Amazon or, better yet, at the recently-opened Encino Firehouse Mercantile & Deli next time you're passing through town. Of course, I highly recommend getting a copy!


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Great post. Very informative. I am also fond of US 60. I travel it at least a few times every year and always enjoy the scenery. Now I know more about the towns that once thrived along that route.

I also had to pause in recognition at your header photo. I travel NM 55 at least 4 times a year on my way down to Capitan and Carrizozo. I have always called that highway the Zig Zag Highway. And I know exactly where that old schoolhouse in your photo is located, too. I have taken a few photographs of it, as well.


David Thomson said...

Closing of the RR depot is indeed the kiss of death for most. When you come to SF again I need to take you out to Drawbridge, CA:

There is a small history book on the town that is worth every penny of the $5 the Refuge charges for it.

I'm going to pass along another blog someone sent me that is a 19th century explorer's journal about traveling thru California. I mentioned that I liked history like in Cadillac Desert or "California's Fading Wildflowers".

jmhouse said...

Lisa, that's a great catch! Indeed, NM 55 does zig and zag. Last time I drove it we ran out of gas 7 miles south of Mountainair and got a ride to town with the retired Deputy Sheriff. Had we been closer to the school, I would've at least had a better way to pass the wait. Did you see the graffiti from the 1940's? Another shot is HERE.

As always, thanks for your comment! JM

jmhouse said...

David, how in the world did I miss Drawbridge?! I've never even heard of the place and I thought I covered the waterfront from Berkeley to Marina pretty extensively. I absolutely NEED to check it out next time I'm in the Bay Area.

Since there's a history book at the refuge, are visitors allowed now? Or, if not, might you have access?

Thanks for the heads-up on this one.


Anonymous said...

I took a bunch of photos in Vaughn & Encino last week:

jmhouse said...

Ah, many of those locations look rather familiar! Thanks for the shots. Now I've just gotta figure out who Heberer Lorius is!

Thanks again! JM

Unknown said...

The pic the old brown house in encino is where I lived and played outside untill I was around 7 years old. The old house raised 13 of us Harrison kids. Not all at once luckily. We had no running water or indoors bathroom.

Unknown said...

The old dillon store still stands and you can still read the faded name on the building.

jmhouse said...

Jerry, that's incredible that you grew up in that brown house! Getting comments like yours is why I do this kind of thing. Next time I see the place I'll certainly have an expanded appreciation for it. Thanks very much for getting in touch.

And thanks also for the confirmation on the Dillon store. I'll have a look for it when I get a chance. JM

Unknown said...

Thank you JM. If I can remember anything you might want to add about Encino I will let you know. Again great work.


jmhouse said...

Jerry, please do let me know if you think of anything I should add. Pictures, stories, whatever...I'd love to include it. I'm hoping to see R.C. Dillon's Store this fall and add a shot of it here.

Thanks very much for the words of encouragement! JM

Jen said...

What a treasure to find your site! I drove through Encino in September - at night, unfortunately, and didn't get a great sense of it, except a horrible noise at the Post Office (still in operation!) scared the pants off me while I was there! Thank you - your blog looks like a great resource and living document.

jmhouse said...

Thanks very much for your comment, Jen! Yeah, the post office is still operating, isn't it? Not sure what that noise might've been though!

Anyway, your comment is greatly appreciated, especially at this moment when I'm trying to assemble a post on three towns in NM that I can find barely any information on at all. Alas. But then...back to it!

Best, JM

Margie said...

Back in the 70's, my husband and our son were caught in a blizzard in the area of Encino. A trucker gave them a lift to the fire station in that little town. My husband said it was like a Thespian play in that the door keep opening and more people kept coming in. The mayor and other townspeople brought in a big container of chili, along with some other food. My son, who was in elementary school, learned to play poker that night--they were perched in the fire engine. They had a great time, and they were safe. Thanks, good people of Encino for taking care of them during that bad weather.

jmhouse said...

That's a great story, Margie! Thanks for sharing it. A kid is never too young to learn to play poker...and in a fire truck, no less!

A friend of mine has a story of getting stuck in nearby Vaughn when the family car broke down during a move from Vermont to Truth or Consequences. He eventually developed a real fondness for the town. You can read his tale HERE.

There are some kind folks out on the plains of NM!

Thanks again, JM

Anonymous said...

Great story. My buddy and I drove through Encino this past week end on our way to Roswell. Needless to say I fell in love with the place even though it was just a passing moment on the highway. Looking forward to going back and eexploring.

jmhouse said...

Anonymous, thanks for your message! And thanks for reminding me that I, too, need to get back to Encino. I've been trying for several months but time has been hard to come by. There are some things I really want to see and photograph. Soon!

Best, JM

Jeanne M. said...

My grandfather was Thomas J. Dillon Sr. I am not sure of the relation to R.C. Dillon but my mom and her twin were born in Encino in 1922. Their mother was Gladys Armstrong Dillon. I have school records from mother's elementary school there. Her brothers were Jack Dillon, (who ran for Lt. Govenor) and Tom Dillon Jr. Who has a building named after him at the New Mexico School or the Deaf. Comming to New Mexico in June Looking forward to seeing where Mom grew up.

jmhouse said...

That's a really great family history in Encino, Jeanne M. Thanks for passing it along!

You'll find Encino a little quiet, to say the least, but I don't doubt it will be a poignant visit. Since there aren't any restaurants in Encino, I recommend Penny's Diner down the road in Vaughn. It will make you feel like you really have traveled back in time.

Thanks again! JM

Laura said...

Thanks for such an informative post! I drove through Encino on a trip from Miami to Albuquerque last week and there was something about this town that made me want to look it up when I got back home. Although it is virtually a ghost town, you can really feel its spirit as you drive through. I plan to return in a few weeks and really want to take the time to explore Encino before any more of its incredible history disappears!

jmhouse said...

Laura, thanks for your comment! I feel the same way about Encino as you do. I've been there a couple times, but have been trying to get back again for awhile now. There is an old laundromat that might still be standing that I really want to hunt for. It's the banner shot on the Facebook page of the photographer Robert Christensen. That page is HERE. If you happen to see that place, please let me know!

Again, thanks for stopping by and enjoy your trip back to Encino. If you have time, Highway 60 heading east is pretty fascinating all the way into Texas. JM

Adventurous Boomer said...

After driving thru Vaughn we hit this town. It was freakier than Vaughn yet it had a post office! We got a kick out of that. This whole are is full of "Cities of Dust".

jmhouse said...

It *is* interesting that Encino still has a post office. There are fewer than 100 people in the town and there's also a post office just down the road in Vaughn. I'm sure Encino's PO is on the slate for closure if the USPS is finally forced to downsize in rural areas. But post office's remain important gathering places in towns that don't have much else anymore. It'd be sad if those PO closures happen.

And, yes, Highway 60 is just about my favorite road for history and photography. You might be interested in my Facebook page, where I post a photo a day, including Vaughn, Encino, and all points north, east, west, and south:


Marty L. Rivera said...

the fourth photo down from the start of the comment section is my grandparents old place the brown building is there old store called Garcia & Sons Gen Merch the doors right next door were the entrance to the residence and next to it was the bar my grandparents had, The U & I Bar, Blas and Ursula Garcia raised seventeen kids in the town of Encino, they sold the place in the late seventies and lived the rest of their lives in Encino.
I was born in Encino and have great memories of that little town, I live in Socorro, NM but spent lots of time there in Encino with family and family friends, I still get to Encino to bring me back down to earth, the tranquility of that little town will always help keep me focused. Jose & Eva Rivera are my grandparents in my Dad's side, my Godparents Joe E. & Emma Lucero who still live there in Encino are my Dad's older brother and sister-in-law. Marty Rivera is name and Encino is my birthtown, and DAMN Proud of it!!!

jmhouse said...

Marty, thanks very much for your comment! That is great information and a wonderful slice of Encino. I'd never even heard of the the U & I Bar! I can't recall what remains nearby off-hand, but I imagine there is nothing (or very little) left of the bar, there being hardly anything of the residence. Do you know if there is a mural in the Garcia & Sons Gen Merch Store? There is a mural in a store in the area, but I might have it confused with another building.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing your memories. Comments like yours are absolute gold! I hope to return to Encino soon to explore some more and I'll be keeping your words in mind.

Best, JM

Marty L. Rivera said...

Grandma & Grandpa's store did not have a mural, I do remember a small mural at the Rio Pecos, the building across the street from what was the bar, was also a bar, it was Don Camilo Apodaca's bar, and he sold it to my grandfather who never reopened it. The Chevron Station which now reads Sandoval Service station belonged to my mom's oldest sister and her husband, the Texico station right next door to the Post Office was my Double great Aunt & Uncles place, A J & Librada Garcia owned it, Librada was my Grandma Rivera's sister, and A J was my Grandpa Garcia's brother, the Montoya & Son General Store across from my Grandparents store belonged to my Grandma Garcia's sister Lucia and her husband Tomas. So my roots are deep in that little town, many other relatives there, too! When the summer came, highway 60 was used lots by the National Guard convoying to Ft. Bliss and places for summer camp, they would stop and line the sides of the highway from one end of town to the other sometimes. Thanks again for helping bring back great memories, Marty L. Rivera

jmhouse said...

That's some of the most extensive background I've received on Encino, Marty. Thanks very much for sharing your family history! I really need to go back and have a look around again soon now that I know more about these places.

I did a little digging and right in the comments above is the location of that mural. It's in a store built in the early 1950's by Ollie Williams on the northeast corner of Hwy 60 and Hwy 3. It was done by Ollie's wife, Hallie, who also painted murals in the Encino High School gymnasium. They lived in Negra.

Anyway, thanks again and please keep in touch! JM

Amanda Ortiz said...

My Grandparents Alfred & Corrine Larranaga along with my parents Robert & Debbie Ortiz pulled up the old gym floor and used the hardwood in my parents house located in Moriarty, NM. They were once residents on a nearby ranch and attended Encino schools. They loved that town and were thrilled to be able to salvage the beautiful hardwood gym floor.

jmhouse said...

Wow, that's great, Amanda Ortiz! I'm thrilled to hear that the hardwood floor was put to good use. At least not all of the Encino gym was lost!

Thanks for your message! JM

Unknown said...

I am one of Marty L. Rivera's nieces and my aunts and uncles have been sharing a link to this blog post on facebook all day! I finally had a chance to read it, along with all the comments, and I am so fascinated. I've visited Encino a couple of times when I was a kid but I loved to hear what it was like when my mom was a kid. I thought only my family loved Encino, it's nice to know others appreciate it as well.

jmhouse said...

Thanks for your comment, Michele. It's much appreciated! I'm fascinated by Encino and I feel like there's a lot of the town I still haven't covered. I hope to get back to do more exploring soon. In fact, your uncle contacted me and very kindly offered to show me around sometime. With luck, I'll be able to take him up on that offer in the near future!

I have posted some additional photos of Encino and a bit more history on the City of Dust Facebook page. You might find a few of the posts interesting, such as this one:

Thanks again! JM

Anonymous said...

Lived between Clines Corner and Encino in the late 60s. I remember the Lion's Club (I believe it was) having a bonfire, wiener roast and fireworks exhibit around 4th of July. All the fireworks were stored in a camper on the back of a pickup until one flew inside, setting them all off in a spectacular (but very short) spectacle! The nice fellow from Rio Pecos had been sorting them out and handing them to the guys outside and he came flying out that camper door! My most memorable of several memories of Encino!

jmhouse said...

Anonymous, that's a great story! I'd never heard the tale of the great 4th of July Encino Lion's Club conflagration! Must've been something to see, and I'm glad no one was hurt!

Thanks very much! JM

Anonymous said...

At the time we lived around there, the ladies would meet every month in homes for Extension Club. After being somewhat isolated on the ranch, it was a real treat to go to town and get to visit. Pick up a few groceries at the Rio Pecos and go by the post office.

Yvette Jaramillo said...

Hi my grandmas house is across the street from the fire station and down the street from the little white church and the school. There is a small brown church next door to her house. As far as I know that church has always been closed.

My grandparents used to deliver the mail. My dad used help my grandfather and my grandma worked in the elementary school.

Delorah Snethen said...

Memories! So many familiar names. I went to school with the Garcia kids and Fanny and Tom Montoya were two of my teachers. Emma Lucero gave me my first haircut. Thanks for posting. I have been gone for almost 50 years but still call Encino home. The last time I was there the highschool building was almost gone.

jmhouse said...

Thanks for your comment, Delorah Snethen! When were you last at the high school? Of course, it *is* gone now, unfortunately.

Thanks again! JM

Unknown said...

Hi. My name is jerry Harrison. My wife took over the mail route from your grandma Tomasita back in 1991 or 92 after being a relief driver for Tomasita. She enjoyed going on the route with your grandma and became very close freinds with your grandma. She still drives and enjoys the route today.

Unknown said...

Hi Jm. My name is Jerry Harrison. The post office in Encino is still open. Reduced hours tho. My wife delivers the mail from the post office on her rural route. She has been doing it for about 23 years now. I will try and post a pic of Gov. Dillans old store soon.

jmhouse said...

Thanks for the comments, Jerry! I'm glad to hear the mail is still being delivered in Encino! And I'd love to see more shots of the R.C. Dillon Store. I was able to track it down myself on a visit to Encino a year or so ago. In fact, I was just through Encino last Sunday and took some more shots of the wooden house on the north side of Highway 60. I believe you said you grew up there with 12 siblings! I also explored a few other homes, including a very nice one by the tracks.

I've been told that one of the old stores has a mural in it which was painted by Hallie Williams, perhaps the only one she painted that's left after the four in the gymnasium were destroyed. You haven't by chance seen this mural, have you? I'd love to know more about it.

Thanks again! JM

Elspeth Ferguson said...

Came across your site and am so pleased to see this. I am a granddaughter of R. C. Dillon and the memories of Encino and the store and their home run deep. We visited often. My grandparents home faced the highway and was an amazing home that I can see in my mind's eye right now. There were all kinds of southwest memorabilia from my grandfather's time as governor. I would sleep sometimes
on the buffalo hide that was draped on a couch.. very itchy but I thought it was so neat. There was an enormous bowl created by Maria the famous Indian potter on the dining room table. It was full of candy bars for grandkids. It was a beautiful home with all kinds of fascinating art and furnishings. There was a huge carriage house out back which we weren't allowed to get into as kids because there were rattlesnakes around. There was a buckboard in the yard and a windmill and an outhouse. There was not a bathroom there until around the 1950's. The store was amazing. The buffalo head hung right in the entry and it was indeed a general store with food, fabrics and whatever else one would need living so far out on the prairie. I have some pictures of the area. Lots of fond memories.

Unknown said...

My father was from Encino New Mexico. My grandmother and her sister lived across the street from the church. I believe there were 2 families that had the name Chavez. My grandfather was Cesario Chavez, my dad's name was Jesus Chavez. My dad didn't speak much of his family life...I know that they ran a gas station off of highway 60.

Unknown said...

My grandmother Remedies Chavez and her sister lived a cross the street from the Catholic Church and down the street fr Ok m the school. My brother and I went to the a short while after my Dad retired from the army. His name was Jesus Chavez. I loved visiting Encino as a kid..nice memories when all the cousins got together.

jmhouse said...

It's a real treat to hear from a granddaughter of R.C. Dillon, Elspeth Ferguson! Thank you for sharing your memories. Oddly enough, I was at a talk the other day by Dixie Boyle, who just reissued her wonderful book on Highway 60, and the buffalo head on the wall of the general store in Encino came up. It's amazing how these things can live on when we let them!

Thanks again! JM

jmhouse said...

Thanks for your recollections and family history, Alicia Chavez! From the comments I've received, there are clearly many, many fond memories of Encino. It must've been a wonderful community in its heyday.

Thanks for stopping by City of Dust! JM

Carol Charles said...

Very interesting indeed. My name is Carol Charles (I'm male and now 84 years old). My dad built the original Rio Pecos service station in, I believe, 1936. It was owned by Lionel Boren, whose Rio Pecos business was located in Ft. Sumner. I started to school in Encino in 1937. My first grade teacher was Mrs. West and my 4th grade teacher was her husband, Mr. West. Both excellent teachers. Mr. West was also the band teacher and taught me to play the clarinet, which I still do. The gymnasium had a stage for all kinds of productions. The faculty often put on plays. The basketball court inside was not full regulation length, but it was still in use in the late 1950s when I was a teacher and basketball coach in Estancia. In 1937 Encino had a high school football team that played on a field just north of the school. They had dropped football by the time I taught in Estancia. My best friend in first and second grade was Jimmy Bachicha. I've often wondered what became of him. I remember the Dillon store and also was friends with Evelyn and Junior Hinton, whose family lived on the eastern side of Encino. I went on to become a professor at San Diego State University, authored more than 20 textbooks, and served as long-term consultants many times in Brazil and Peru. Last time I saw Encino there wasn't much left of it. But it figures very strongly in my early life, and I got an excellent early education there.

jmhouse said...

Thank you for another wonderful comment, Carol Charles. Where was the original Rio Pecos service station? I imagine it's long gone, but I'm curious as to where it used to be. You also would've been very familiar with the beautiful Hallie Williams murals in the Encino High School gymnasium, I bet.

The name Jimmy Bachicha doesn't ring a bell, but maybe someone will read this and pass along some information.

You might find Dixie Boyle's recently expanded book on Highway 60 in NM to be of interest. It includes a chapter on Encino.

Thanks again, and congratulations on such a long and successful career in education! JM

Carol Charles said...

Hi JM,
The original Rio Pecos service station was built by my dad, Morgan Charles, in 1936. It was located on the westernmost side of Encino, just east of the highway fork that goes up to Clines Corners. Originally the station faced south - the highway then was between it and the railroad tracks. About three years later, the highway was relocated to the north of the station, so my Dad and others tore down the old plank-fronted station and built a new one of white plastered adobe facing north onto the highway which was newly paved. The building also contained a cafe, which was very popular with truckers - my dad let my brother and I eat there on Friday nights - the delicious burger cost 5 cents and Pepsi 5 cents. There was a jukebox (we called it a nickelodeon) that cost 5 cents to play a record (as you can see, 5 cents was real money in those days)- the truckers always kept it going and soon we had from it the $40 to cover the cost of my new clarinet. At the former station site, there were four or five tourist cabins, and we lived in one of them. I don't remember if they were still there after they changed the station, but we moved a short distance east to a yellow wooden house, which remained intact (but not always occupied) for some time after 'our' Rio Pecos station was gone (I don't know anything about its demise.)

Yes I do remember the murals at the gymnasium (which was the town venue not only for sports but also for many community events. When I was there the school showed movies - perhaps on Saturdays, I'm not sure - that cost 5 cents admission. I reveled in films that featured pilots in bi-wing aircraft shooting at each others with pistols. There was a nice playground on the east side of the school, and the school toilets were outside to the north.

In 1940 we moved to Amarillo, then six months later to Albuquerque for two years and then to a farm at Portales. There I attended junior high, high school, and college at ENMU. From there I went to Estancia to teach, so I continued to go through Encino regularly. After that I did graduate studies at UNM and then landed a position at San Diego State University, from which I retired in 1988. I now live in Australia, where I suspect (but don't know for sure) I'm the only kid from Encino now living 'down under.'

Great to have this exchange. Cheers Mate, Carol Charles

jmhouse said...

That's another great chunk of history, Carol Charles. Thanks for sharing it. It does seem like you could do a lot with five cents in Encino back then! Do you know for sure if your dad's second Rio Pecos service station was torn down? I believe there is one other white, plastered, adobe building that faces north toward the highway besides the Tom Montoya Son Gen. Mdse. store and post office. It is vacant and about to collapse, but, as I recall, it does fit your description. Any chance, do you think? I suspect the yellow house is gone, but there is the interesting wooden one that I included above in photos three and five. A fellow who grew up in it actually contacted me! (See comment seven.)

Anyway, I hope all is well Down Under! I'm quite fond of Oz, and I bet you could easily be the only kid from Encino to really know what it means to have a barbie Saturday arvo in Brizzie! JM

John B Pritchett said...

I'm from Clovis and have lived in this area almost all my life. In 1981 my Dad, Ben Pritchett, was hired as Superintendent of Encino Schools to prepare it for closing. My wife, I and our two oldest daughters would drive from Clovis to Encino the year he was there and spend a few weekends. He and my Mom rented a house west of town on the Willard highway. I remember a deserted gas station still standing on the dirt road just before you got to their house. The railroad tracks were a bit further down the road.

My Dad died in 2003 and in 2004 I was on trip to and from Santa Fe working on the film "The Longest Yard" with Adam Sandler and Burt Reynolds. I stopped in Encino to see the old school which I hadn't been in since 1981. They were painting and working on the gym and it was beautiful! Great light coming in from huge windows with a great stage surrounded by the old, beautiful hardwood floor.

Though I travel that route from Clovis to Santa Fe or Albuquerque every so often I haven't stopped since 2004 so I made a point to do so yesterday.on my way to Albuquerque. The high school pictures of the students and my Dad still hang on the wall and the gym and city offices housed there are wonderful. Met and talked at some length with City Clerk/Treasurer Loretta Chavez who was delightful and informative. Many of the old families, the Ortega and Chavez, migrated to in the Portales-Clovis area and I know many of them, including Loretta's relatives.

The old gym is to die for, lol! I'd love to be closer to Encino to rent it as as a studio, if possible. I told Loretta she should post photos on the New Mexico Film Commissions website as I would think the city could rent it to the film industry since its so picturesque and near to Santa Fe/ Abq.

jmhouse said...

Thanks for those comments, Fashion Repartee! They offer a great perspective on the Encino area. I'd love to know more about the deserted gas station you mention on the dirt road off the Willard Highway. I don't *think* that's there anymore, but, if it is, I'd like to find it!

I haven't had a chance to stop by the city offices in Encino yet, but it sounds like I should pay a visit soon! They are indeed housed in the old brick elementary school. It sounds like the restoration was very successful. Of course, the adobe high school and gymnasium, built by the WPA between 1936-1939, were torn down due to safety concerns in 2013, along with the murals painted by Hallie Williams shown above. I suppose most buildings do come down eventually, especially adobe ones. So it goes.

Thanks again! JM

LLeatherwood said...

I am LaNell Leatherwood, my mother Carrie Williams Lindsey, grandparents Albert "Ollie" and Hallie Williams. Their ranch house is still standing on the hill above the railroad tracks and black water tanks of Negra, west of Encino. Four of their 6 children are still living. Ed and Albert "Slick" have passed but Lelia (Ohio), Carrie(New Mexico), Ida (CA), and Windell(TX) are all well. My mother has copies of the murals in the gym that classes paid her to paint as their dedication to the school. They were the settling of the Rio Grande.
I spent many holidays and summers in the old homestead across from the school at Negra. We went to Encino and Vaughn as often as Mrs. Harvey came to pick up my grandmother and I, my grandmother didn't drive.
In her later years she broke her hip and moved in with us where my fathers family had staked a homestead near another long gone town, Forrest, NM. She taught me to paint in the afternoon sun.
When we returned to Negra in the spring of 79 her home hade been complete robbed & wreaked down to the flooring, stove, and water heater. Many pieces of historic art work where also taken.
This past year mother's family has emailed her pictures of Hallie's paintings and drawings and my mother is publishing a book for the families.
I have many fond memories of the people of Encino and surrounding area, especially Old Man Tom, the Mitchell family, Harveys, Perez and McLaughlin families.
Thanks for the memories.

jmhouse said...

It's fantastic to hear from you, LLeatherwood. Thanks so much for your recollections. Negra remains a thoroughly charming place, I think, even in its isolation. It just seems special. I wrote a piece about it, including some background on your grandparent's lovely house, HERE. It was, of course, very sad to read your description of the looting of that house.

Also, if you haven't seen it already, you might be interested in getting a copy of Dixie Boyle's book, "A History of Highway 60...," which includes sections on both Encino and Negra. Dixie interviewed your mother as part of her research, I believe. You can get that at AMAZON.

Again, thank you for stopping by. I was thrilled to get your comment! JM

Anonymous said...

I lived in Encino in the early '70s, and did 8th and 9th grades there. My uncle, Ernest Perez was president of the school board at the time. My mother, Billie Reagan taught school there. One of the best times of my life. Stacy Reagan

Unknown said...

Hi Stacy. I remember you and your mom and Jeff. Jeff and I were in the fifth grade together I believe. Your mom was our teacher. Good times.

jmhouse said...

There would seem to be lots and lots of very fond memories of Encino out there, Anonymous and Jerry Harrison. Keep 'em coming! Thanks! JM

Unknown said...

Hi jm. Well if you remember I my family lived in the small wooden house in encino that you posted the pic of. The house seems to lean a little more each day. One good wind storm is gonna finish it off. Kinda sad really. But just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading posts from ex residents of Encino. Thanks for helping us stay up with our little towns history.

jmhouse said...

Hi Jerry Harrison! Of course, I remember you! I'm very glad to hear from you, actually, because I recently posted a photo of your old home on the City of Dust FACEBOOK PAGE and now I can let you know about it. You can see the shot HERE. I included a little bit of the history you told me, as well. I hope you don't mind. If you judge popularity by "likes," it's done quite well at 105 currently. The photograph was taken after the snowstorm just before this past Christmas. I stop by and take a photo or two of the house most times I'm through Encino. It does seem like it might topple down soon, sadly.

Thanks for dropping by again! I appreciate the kind words and am glad you're enjoying the comments! JM

Unknown said...

Hi JM.Dont mind abit. Thank you.

Manly Chapa said...

So I am starting a new YouTube series soon about all the small "unheard of" towns in New Mexico. This is going to be a part of an episode that comprises of three small communities. Vaughn, Encino, and Ramon. All three very small. And I was wondering if you had information about when Encino was founded, the founder, it's nickname (if it has one), and any other information you can think of. If you have anything email me @ Thank you so much!

jmhouse said...

Manly Chapa, pretty much everything I know about Encino is in the blog post, including who founded it (Bonnie Salas) and when (~1900; post office opened 1904). I don't believe it ever had a nickname.

You may find Dixie Boyle's book, "A History of Highway 60 and the Railroad Towns on the Belen, New Mexico Cutoff," to be of interest as she included both Encino and Vaughn. Also, Robert Julyan's "The Place Names of New Mexico" is a great resource for basic information on pretty much any town in New Mexico.

Good luck with the You Tube series! Let us know when the episode is up! JM

RomeoCar said...

Very interesting article. I've just drove through Encino yesterday (3/28/2016) on my way back to Texas via Roswell. It surprised to see so many buildings just rotting away, never seen anything like it. It looked as if the entire town just left. For the rest of the ride, I kept wondering what had happened there.

jmhouse said...

Encino is pretty striking, isn't it? The railroad giveth and the railroad taketh away. That's a sad lesson that's been learned by many small towns along Highway 60, including Vaughn, Yeso, and Taiban, amongst others.

Thanks for your message, RomeoCar! JM

Estelle Gallegos said...

Jimmy Bachicha was probably my husband's Uncle James. Across the highway from the Rio Pecos gas station is a white house that the Bachicha family lived in...there were 9 kids.

jmhouse said...

Thank you for your comment, Estelle Gallegos! I wonder if Carol Charles will read this. She says above that Jimmy Bachicha was her best friend in 1st and 2nd grade and she's long wondered what happened to him. Maybe you two should get in touch! Her dad built the Rio Pecos Service Station. Both of them!

Incidentally, there are vintage photos of the Rio Pecos station in Dixie Boyle's "History of Encino, New Mexico," including one on the cover (see update above). Anyone know who the fellow standing out front is?

Thanks again! JM

Marty Rivera said...

Mr. Mulhouse, Marty Rivera here on this side of your blog, was just rereading some of the comments and something I remember doing as a very young kid while staying in Encino with family was, we would somehow manage to gather up some change and then we would head over to Mr. Dillon's Store, most of us not really knowing that Mr. Dillon was really Gov. Dillon. We would spend our money there on candy and just look at that big ole buffalo head, Mr. Dillon even had a step ladder or stool there so us little people could get up there and look eye to eye at buffalo head. We were always so in awe of just how big that buffalo mount was. Mr. Dillon was a very caring man to take that kind of time and effort to make even the little people feel welcome. Again thank you for helping us keep those memories of our little towns alive!!!!

jmhouse said...

That's a great recollection, Marty Rivera! I can just picture kids climbing up that ladder to get a closer look at the buffalo! Thanks for passing that along.

On that note, Dixie Boyle would like to e-mail you and/or your sister a few questions so she can add more information to her pamphlet on the history of Encino. If you would be interested let me know and I'll put you two in touch.

As always, thanks very much! JM

Atsf Roswell said...

Awesome post! Great to see a few glimpses of those murals too!

jmhouse said...

Thank you, Atsf Roswell! Dixie Boyle's mural photos are invaluable and I'm really glad that she got a chance to take them, not to mention *share them* with everybody. I've said it before, but I highly recommend her book, "A History of Highway 60 and the Railroad Towns on the Belen, New Mexico Cutoff." I couldn't have picked a better topic for a book myself!

Thanks again as always! JM

Unknown said...

My father Jesus Chavez worked at that gas station in the 1940s. I have a picture of him in his gas station uniform. My grandmother lived across the street from the Catholic Church.

jmhouse said...

Thanks very much for sharing some family history, Alicia Chavez! Is that your father on the cover of Dixie Boyle's "History of Encino, New Mexico" then?!

Best Regards, JM

Unknown said...

I grew up in Encino, it was a Fantastic place to live and grow up. My grandmother lived there for many years , until i was 17 years old. We had to move her and my Tia ( Aunt ) juanita to Moriarty because my tia became very sick. To this day we still have property and family that live there.

Unknown said...

In fact the Denison Family that owned the Rio Pecos back in 1964 - 1989 Were very close Family Friends. The Entire Town is related to each other one way or another. Today i currently date one of the Denison Men. And i am Related to the Bachicha Family.

Ronemtz said...

Hi, I am Ron Martinez. Interesting to see this site. Around 1967 my family lived in Encino for about 3-years. My folks were teachers there, Joe and Celsa. I think my mom taught 2nd grade and my dad taught Industrial Arts and Drafting. Two of my brothers were in school there with me at the time.

I remember Jerry Harrison by name, I think he was a year or two younger than me. My classmates were Gary A., Clyde M., Anna H., Rebecca?, Gene Apodaca's sister (can't remember her name, and others whose name I can't remember. I remember the Mora and Martinez families who also lived near the school and Eligio and Emma Lucero, Justo's family, Rita the school secretary. The Montoya family, too many others to mention.

Last year I talked to Gary A and he mentioned that sometime in the past there was an "All-School" reunion for anyone who had been to school in Encino. Not much left there in Encino but I remember some nice people and great memories.

Unknown said...

Hi, My name is Jodie Sanchez, I was born in Vaughn in 1933. I lived east of the firestation with my grandfather Antonio A. Armijo in the 1940's. I attended Encino High School and was on the basketball team with Chris Garcia, Jackie Orr, Roberto Rivera, Joe Archuleta, Carlos Paez, and Adan Rivera. My 1st teacher was Mrs. Bachicha. Our principal was Mr. Ashley. I remember going to the movies at Vaughn theater and my best friends were Chris and Luis Garcia. It was nice to see this blog and bring back some cherished memories of my childhood. I live in Albuquerque now and would love to hear from any one from my home town.
505 639-0384

jmhouse said...

Thank you for sharing your recollections, Jodie Sanchez! Did you go the movies in the stone building that's at the corner of 11th St. on the east side of Cedar Avenue in Vaughn? I'd love to hear more about that theater, but I think it's been closed for many decades. Really, I'd like to know more about all of Cedar Avenue along those blocks near the railroad tracks.

If you didn't come across it, you might be interested in a blog post I did on Vaughn a few years ago. You can find it HERE. There's also a short book that was recently published on the history of Encino. That's available through Amazon HERE. I think a second edition is in the works.

Thanks again! I hope you hear from some old friends from Encino and Vaughn! JM

Marty Rivera said...

Mr. Mulhouse, Marty Rivera here again, just saw the latest posting about Encino, and saw that Mr. Jodie Sanchez had a very nice posting, most of the names mentioned are family, and those that are not family are known to me too. I just got off the phone with him too, and he was so excited that somebody would take time to call and reminisce.
So again I thank you for the site and the help in keeping these little places alive. Many many thanks from these Encino people!

jmhouse said...

Marty Rivera, it makes my day to hear that you and Mr. Jodie Sanchez just spoke on the phone! Heck, it makes my week! It seems to me that conversations of the kind you two had are really special and important. I'm very pleased to have facilitated a bit, but I really have to tip my hat to you two for making contact. Thanks for letting me know!

Wonderful! JM

Marty Rivera said...

Mr. Mulhouse, Marty Rivera again, I called and talked with my Dad, Adan Rivera, Roberto Rivera mentioned by Mr. Sanchez and Luis and Chris Garcia are uncles. The Garcia’s being my Moms brothers, and Chris is also the uncle I!ve mentioned in the photo of the U & I Bar.
Roberto is just younger than my Dad and I visit with him quite often. My Uncle Luis owned a gas station and mechanics shop on the north east side of town in the late fifties and very early sixties, he then moved his family to Albuquerque where he and my Aunt Sally found work and raised their family. My Aunt Sally, Uncle Luis’ wife was an elementary school teacher, she had many of her own brothers and sisters in law as students there in Encino. Something that is very unique to a small rural town. I told Mr. Sanchez that I would continue to call him and first chance I got I would get my uncles over to visit with him too. Again thanks for the great work on these little towns. I was in Encino just a couple of ago, and saw the wind generators up and running, and thinking what would the old timers that have since passed think of this new technology. My grandparents talked about when electricity came to town. My grandpa Blas told me that at one time he had his own generator to provide power for his home and businesses. Wow how the times have changed. See I told you I care about that little town!
Thanks again, Mr. Mulhouse.

jmhouse said...

You do indeed care about that little town, Marty Rivera! And what a wonderful history you have there. Speaking of which, I believe we've mentioned that Dixie Boyle is expanding her book, "History of Encino, New Mexico." She's now on Facebook and posting vintage photos of the area. Might be worth shooting her a friend request!

I'm really happy to hear that you and Mr. Sanchez are going to stay in touch and that you'll have your uncles visit with him. If I've done anything to help make connections like that then I feel like I'm doing a little bit of good here with City of Dust!

Best Regards! JM

Marty Rivera said...

Mr. Mulhouse, Marty Rivera here again it has been awhile since I have checked in, I was in in Encino last Saturday the seventh of July, as Encino celebrated 80 years of incorporation of becoming a village. They had a pretty nice shindig, you and Dixie Boyle should have been there to check things out. I am guessing at least three hundred people were in attendance. At one point 8 out of 10 people there were my kinfolk. Was really great to visit and see lots of people for the turnout. Thanks again for the job you do on keeping these little towns alive.

jmhouse said...

Hey Marty,

Good to hear from you! Sorry for the delay in responding. Google stopped notifying me of messages and I only just noticed the considerable backlog that had been submitted for my approval.

In any case, I'm very happy to hear of the get-together in Encino. That sounds like a really good time. I wish I could've been there! However, as of late June I find myself in Carson City, Nevada. I moved here for a job that will take me at least into 2019 and then... Well, you know how that kinda thinking goes.

Anyway, thanks for the update! It's much appreciated! I hope you (and Encino) are doing well! JM

Unknown said...

My great grandpa nicolas baca lived in an Adobe house facing the railroad tracks, my father Juan b Baca worked at Mr Dillon's store. My dad and mother estefanita Cordova married in Encino in May 1943, the Carlos Cordova family my maternal grandmother father and my paternal grandfather Jose c Baca all moved to portales where they worked for farmers pulling broomcorn. My grandfather Carlos helped other families move to portales, the Ortega's,and bacas, appreciate all comments

Blake Gumprecht said...

I'm trying to locate people who lived in the Encino area (or eastern Torrance County) in 1945 and who are still alive, remember the Trinity atomic bomb test near Carrizozo that year, and have suffered health problems that may relate to that (cancers, especially of the thyroid).

I'm an author, working on a book on the health impacts of the Trinity test. If you know anybody, please contact me at Thanks, Blake.

jmhouse said...

Thank you for your comment, Blake Gumprecht. This is an important issue, and I'm glad you're working on a book about the effects of the Trinity Test. I have heard from people that have been impacted, and I addressed this topic more directly on a piece I wrote about Claunch, NM, which was 40 miles northeast of the blast. It was also in the fallout path given prevailing winds on that day.

You can find my original post, along with subsequent comments, at this City of Dust page.

It was also re-posted on the El Chuqueño blog out of El Paso. That can be found HERE, also with comments.

Finally, I imagine you've come across the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, but their page is HERE.

Just let me know if I can provide any further information. Again, there's a real tragedy here, so keep up the good work and please, if you can, keep us posted here at City of Dust.

Best Regards, JM

Frith said...

Fascinating history! R.C. Dillon, two-term Governor of New Mexico, likely had a son, Thomas J. Dillon, who may have been born in Encino. He was Dr. Thomas J. DIllon, and a teacher, later became the long serving Principal of the New Mexico School for the Deaf (NMSD) in Santa Fe. The main school building is known as "Dillon Hall" in his honor. Dr. Dillon was either deaf or severely hard-of-hearing, and his father, as Governor, likely pushed for funding for the school. Many of the older buildings bore brass plagues with with Governor Dillon's name. Dr. Dillon, a very humble and religouos man, never said a word about his famliy association with the Governor. That may yet be revealed, that Dr. Dillons father was indeed the Governor of New Mexico. Dr. Dillon would sometimes tell us stories about how he grew up in the little town of Encino, to impress upon the students, that greatness often has humble beginnings.

You have probably surmised by now that I am a former student of NMSD, and that I am reminiscing about this great man and his great family. My parents lived far to the south in the SE corner of New Mexico. To get home on breaks that then only came 2 or 3 times a year, I would ride the TNM&O coach from Santa Fe to Vaughn, then to Roswell, Carlsbad, then to Hobbs, and we would pass through the little town of Encino. Even in 1963, Encino appeared small forelorn, a few houes, maybe a gas station, a motel. The high, dry, windy New Mexico desert plains rolled seem to roll on forever once leaving the cradling arms of the Sangre de Cristos. These memories are forever impressed, and only the passing of a lifetime could hammer and shape the love and appreciation for the unique mysticism and beauty of our beloved Nuevo Mejico. Even the memories of tiny Encino.

~~"Our hearts with pride overflow~~ no matter where we go!"~~

jmhouse said...

Thank you so much for your recollections, Frith! They are very much appreciated, and the possibility that a long-time principal of the New Mexico School for the Deaf could be Governor Dillon's son is new to me! Governor Dillon had five children, but I can find no record of their names. Perhaps none of them wished to profit from their connection, but from what you've said it sure seems like Thomas's background must be more than mere coincidence, doesn't it? I've spent a bit of time at the NMSD myself, but only to see concerts in the beautiful auditorium.

You describe the bus journey to southeastern New Mexico beautifully. I can picture it vividly myself. "Unique mysticism" indeed!

Thank you again. JM

Elspeth Ferguson said...

I'm a granddaughter of Governor R. C. Dillon. My mother was Elspeth Joan (Betty Jo). She was the 4th child of my grandmother Maurine ( who my grandfather always called Joshephine) and my grandfather. The oldest child was Virginia and then Kenneth and Florence and my mom and her little brother Malcolm. My mom and Malcolm were the only children who lived with them in the Governor's Mansion. That mansion was razed about 15 years after they were there. It was more of a midwestern look with big white pillars. I learned something from this post. I know that my mom had an uncle and knew of their cousins, particularly Jack but didn't realize they had lived in Encino. I definitely want to visit the School for the Deaf on my next visit to Santa Fe. Very nice to know about that history. My Aunt Virginia married Bill Cutter and the founded Cutter Aviation and their sons, Bill and Sid were the founders of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. I do have pictures of the mansion and the general store. I can send them to you if you let me know where to send them. Many happy memories of my grands and Encino.

Anonymous said...

Can anybody provide more information about Bonnie Salas? Bonnie Salas was my grandmother’s brother. His real name is Bonifacio. However, I don’t know much about him. If anybody has information, I would love to see what you have on this. My grandmother, Avedina Salas, was Bonifacio’s sister. She was married to Arnaud Ardans. After my grandfather died in 1936, the family moved to Santa Rosa. I do know that my grandfather’s ranch was purchased by the Bigbee family.