I love New Mexico, from its mountains in the north to its deserts in the south. I love the mix of cultures and variety of recreational and cultural activities. In Las Vegas, New Mexico we have our share of fun and educational activities all through the year. Among our assets are a museum that has steadily gained in stature and reputation under the conscientious care of a qualified curator and friends who continue to support and promote its collections. Check out the Las Vegas City Museum website for details. But that’s just the beginning. WAIT—as the infomercials declare—there’s more!
New Mexico Highlands University: NMHU was established in 1839 as New Mexico Normal School and became New Mexico Highlands University in 1941. Its original purpose was teacher education. Today the university offers graduate and undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, education, and social work. Many in the community consider NMHU to be the heart of the community providing education, jobs and opportunity. It is literally located in the “heart” of Las Vegas surrounded on all sides by neighborhoods and business districts.
Luna Community College: Named for Maximiliano Luna, speaker of the House of Representatives for the Territory of New Mexico in 1899, the school started out in 1967 as a vocational training school, Luna Area Vocational Technical School, and later became known at Luna Vocational Technical Institute providing occupational training for students in area school districts. With its expanding course selection the school’s board of directors adopted Luna Community College as its name reflecting its broader educational opportunities.
United World College: An institution that matriculates 200 students from around the world in an International Baccalaureate program designed to prepare them to attend colleges and universities anywhere in the world. It is located at the site of a scenic restored hotel in Montezuma, N.M., and is surrounded by forests and mountains. The grounds include a natural hot springs and a historic trestle bridge (no longer in use). The cultural activities bring a vibrancy and flavor to the area that has broadened the world view of locals and given the students a taste of what it’s like to live in small town America.
Outdoor recreation: There are plenty of areas you can enjoy whether as a hiker, a biker or a fisher-person. Check out the New Mexico State Parks website for more information about Storrie Lake and other popular fishing spots. Hermit’s Peak continues to draw hikers and camping remains a fun adventure for families. Check for accessibility as some areas are restricted because of fire danger.
Hermit’s Peak: (This is a Wikipedia factoid) Hermit’s Peak is named for the Italian religious recluse John Augustiani, who lived there in a cave he had dug into the earth around the time of the Civil War. His cave became the subject of pilgrimage by devout New Mexicans, during his life and for a number of years after his death. The peak is in the Santa Fe National Forest and the trail to the peak is maintained by the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District. The trail to the top is approximately four miles from the El Porvenir Campground. Look for the face in reclining profile. It’s there.
Las Vegas Wildlife Refuge: (From the Interior Department Fish and Wildlife Page) With the Rocky Mountains to the west, the Great Plains to the east, and the Chihuahuan Desert to the south, Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge encompasses a diversity of habitats. Located along the Central Flyway, the Refuge provides an important resting, feeding, and wintering area for migrating geese, ducks, and cranes. Las Vegas NWR rests on a plateau in the foothills with the Rocky Mountains just beyond. River canyon walls drop below the refuge on three sides. Las Vegas preserves both wildlife habitats and a slice of New Mexico’s rich cultural history. Check out the website for more information.
Citizens’ Committee for Historic Preservation: (From the CCHP website) “The Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation was formed in 1977 to encourage the preservation and appreciation of Las Vegas and San Miguel County historic resources. Established by land grant in 1835, Las Vegas was originally called Nuestra Senora de Los Delores de Las Vegas Grandes (Our Lady of the Sorrows of the Great Meadows). The history of Las Vegas is influenced not only by many different cultures, but also by two major forms of transportation. As a major trading point on the Santa Fe Trail, Las Vegas became a prosperous Spanish town with a wide variety of adobe structures. As trade on the trail increased, so did the variety of settlers and architecture in the town. The arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad saw a further increase of new residents many of whom built Victorian houses reminiscent of their homes in the East. While the Victorian residents are quite a surprise to visitors, used to the Pueblo revival of Santa Fe, it is the combination of the indigenous adobe architecture and the variety of Victorian architecture that makes Las Vegas unique.”
Annually in August CCHP puts on a Places With a Past tour that features six to ten properties more than 100 years old, many of which have been restored and are currently occupied. A favorite on the tour is the Montezuma Castle, now part of the United World College. CCHP also conducts other historic events throughout the year. For details contact CCHP at 505 425-8803. Also see the site’s virtual tours to get an idea of what PWAP tours might consist of.
Originally posted to my blogspot site in February of last year, this information is worth repeating. The last two photos are mine. The others come from NMHU, CCHP and the City of Las Vegas.