Above: Elizabethtown, NM. Photography Courtesy Palace of the Governors.
State Historic Marker: Elizabethtown
Location: West of Eagle Nest, at the junction of NM 64 and NM 38
In 1866, John William Moore opened a copper mine near the summit of 12,441-foot Mount Baldy and soon discovered gold flakes in Willow Creek. By 1868, a town named for Moore’s daughter had appeared, boasting stores, hotels, a school, and several gambling halls. By 1910 the gold was largely played out; distant railroad tracks meant that hauling away the rest cost far too much. E-town’s namesake, Elizabeth Catherine Moore, lived there until her 1937 death. You can visit the cemetery she’s buried in, along with the remnants of this onetime boomtown. —Excerpted from Roadside New Mexico: A Guide to Historic Markers, by David Pike (UNM Press).
Explore more roadside history at nmmag.us/RoadMarks.
ON THE WESTERN FRONT
An advance band of Texas Confederates marched into Santa Fe on March 10, 1862, and claimed the abandoned Palace of the Governors. Less than three weeks later, the three-day Battle of Glorieta Pass (aka “the Gettysburg of the West”) drove the rebels home. Had the Union forces failed, the rebels might have gained access to Colorado’s gold mines and changed the course of the Civil War. Today you can walk an interpretive trail at Pecos National Historical Park that explains the battle. On March 25, the park hosts a Civil War encampment with black-powder demonstrations and the dedication of a new monument honoring the New Mexico Volunteers. —Kate Nelson
On March 1, 2005, the Legislature designated hot-air balloons as the state’s official aircraft.
On a ranch near Roswell, on March 3, 1935, physicist and inventor Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fuel rocket to travel faster than the speed of sound (767 mph).
A young Roy Orbison cut his first hit, “Ooby Dooby,” at the Norman Petty Studio, in Clovis, on March 5, 1956.
On March 9, 1916, Mexican revolutionary Francisco “Pancho” Villa and 100 men attacked Columbus, New Mexico. Nearly 20 American soldiers and civilians were killed. General John Pershing’s Punitive Expedition failed to capture Villa, but it honed battle skills that helped his soldiers win World War I.
On March 31, 1950, the citizens of Hot Springs voted 1,294 to 295 to change their town’s name to that of a television game show, Truth or Consequences. —Kate Nelson