It has been years in the making, but the book of historical Las Vegas photos, sponsored by the Friends of the City of Las Vegas Museum, is in the final stage of approval for publication. This has been a long process and a costly one, but the Friends had a worthy goal in mind and set forth with determination. The following is a reprint, used with permission, of the a Friends’ article from the winter issue of the organization’s newsletter, which outlines the journey. My brief review of a draft copy of the book tells me Las Vegas, New Mexico, 1835-1935 lives up to expectations.
The first printing will be for 2,500 copies at the cost of about $20,000. The books is a “coffee table” style book in terms of size, and contains many photos and a whole lot of history. If you would like to be part of this exciting effort, you may become a member of the Friends of the Museum at the Sponsor level for $100, and receive a copy of the book once it is published.
In the fall of 2009 the Friends of the Museum Board accepted the challenge of making public the large collection of photograph images archived in the city museum. It was agreed that a book was the appropriate format and a book subcommittee was established with Margaret Vazquez Geffroy, Kenneth Mares, Ginny Gable, Jay Harris, Linda Gegick, Nancy Colalillo, Kayt Peck and Elmo Baca as early book author.
The charge sent to the subcommittee the following December stated: The Subcommittee on the Las Vegas Photohistory Book Project shall formulate policy and procedures for the publication of a new photohistory book of Las Vegas, NM, a book that shall include a significant number of photographic images in the City of Las Vegas Museum collection and other photographic images, if needed.
Fourteen book themes were identified by the subcommittee and offered to selected local experts requesting historical essays on the given theme. In addition, the Friends sent out a request to the public for submissions of personal historical writings, photographs, Spanish language documents, and literary memorabilia related to the themes established. Later, a request for proposals for a book designer was publicized, and Kenesson Design, Inc. of Albuquerque was selected.
Because this process evolved over several years, subcommittee members changed and the author changed. New life was breathed into the project when Edwina P. Romero was contracted to serve as book editor/ author. Subsequently, the book was reevaluated, and changes in its structure, content, and focus were adopted.
The book, in its final round of copy editing, includes about 200 images with extended historical captions, connective narrative text, essays, sidebars, and a timeline of major events. Following are some excerpts.
– March 28, 1835—Juan de Dios Maese, Manuel Archuleta, Manuel Durán, and José Antonio Casados, of San Miguel del Bado, on behalf of themselves and 25 additional men, petition the town council for the land known as Las Vegas Grandes en el Río de las Gallinas [The Large Meadows at the Gallinas River].
– 1840 Plaza de Arriba, later known as Upper Town and San Antonio, becomes the second community on the land grant settlement.
– 1846 August 9—Captain Cooke leading an advance party of the Army of the West reaches the Nuestra Señora settlement. Cooke meets with Alcalde Juan de Dios Maese.
– 1852 January 9—San Miguel County is established by act of New Mexico Territorial legislature.
– 1860 New Mexico Territorial Legislature passes a bill making public education compulsory. Teachers receive fifty cents per pupil per month.
– 1879 September—Monte Verde, (alias Monte Holman, alias Dame Belle Siddons, a Confederate spy) arrives and sets up as a dealer of faro and monte (card games) at the Toe Jam Saloon on Center Street (later Lincoln Avenue). She departs before year end.
– 1880 In one decade (1870–80), population increases from 1,730 to 4,697. The Agua Pura Company is formed and provides water for homes and fire hydrants.
– 1881 March—Shakespeare Society is established.
– 1882 July—east and west sides of the Gallinas River incorporate as one municipality.
– 1888 Christian Brothers’ De La Salle Institute, a private Catholic school for boys, opens.
– 1895 November 25—East of Shoemaker, NM, AT&SF Train # 4 collides with #35. Three railway workers killed. “In those days we never got any train running orders. We ran exclusively by smoke and headlight,” said one engineer.
– 1897 United States Supreme Court rules that Las Vegas common lands of the Las Vegas Land Grant belong to the community known as the Town of Las Vegas, which as yet does not exist.
– 1904 First automobiles appear …
– 1913 Obaid Maloof builds the Mutual (later Campus, later Kiva) Theater for movies.
– 1916 New Las Vegans elected: Ezekiel C. de Baca elected governor and A. A. Jones, U. S. Senator.
– 1920 Penney Dry Goods and Ilfeld Hardware stores move to the City of Las Vegas (east of Gallinas River).
– 1922 Kiwanis Club organizes local chapter.
– 1923 New Mexico Normal University crisis, president dismissed.
– 1924–25—Las Vegas Maroon baseball team wins state championship.
– 1928 Charles Lindbergh visits Las Vegas.
– 1932 the City rejects the Town’s consolidation proposal.
– 1935 March—Cornerstone for new building at New Mexico Normal University is laid, made possible by the Federal Works Progress Administration. Designed by John Gaw Meem, Rodgers Hall would house the University library.
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