In the Footsteps of Wild West History: Photos of Las Vegas, New Mexico

Before there was Sin City, Nevada, before flashing neon lights and massive casinos, over-the-top entertainment,  Penn & Teller smoke and mirrors, and sipping cocktails poolside, there was the true Wild West of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Yes, New Mexico.

Last spring I swung through New Mexico to tiny Las Vegas, a community once at the pinnacle of commerce, trade, and outlaw shenanigans. The Santa Fe Trail swung through the heart of town on its way from Santa Fe to Missouri when Spain – and later Mexico – still controlled this slice of North America. A few decades later the Santa Fe Railroad chugged into town, renewing trade and setting off a second building binge, including one of Fred Harvey’s famous hotels served by a crew of Harvey Girls. At times, gangs of outlaws, including the notorious Vicente Silva gang, ruled the joint, and the likes of Doc Holliday, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and Wyatt Earp frequented the bars and brothels. But with the decline of the railroad, the Great Depression, and the age of the automobile, time left Las Vegas, New Mexico behind to age and slumber in peace.

Today Las Vegas, New Mexico is a unique repository of the past, with over 900 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Movies and TV shows are shot here in abundance, including Longmire, and residents are a friendly bunch who switch effortlessly between English and Spanish as they show off their beautiful town. There’s even two colleges in town.

With the 1899 train depot still served by Amtrak, it’s easy to get here. Once-daily trains from Chicago and Kansas City to the east and Los Angeles and Albuquerque to the west roll through. I took the opportunity to hop over from Gallup, New Mexico after a brief overnight stop to check out a little Route 66 history.

To enjoy my photo slide show, click on the link: Gallup & Las Vegas, New Mexico

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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