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Columns

  • Nuestra Historia - Failed unity: 1882-1884

    Soon after the east side began its lightning-fast growth in 1879, many west side businesses moved across the river to the new rail town, finding it easier and more profitable to be near the railroad docks and sprawling commercial houses on Railroad Avenue. Thus began a gradual decline of the west side, which will be reviewed at length later.

  • Work of Art - Fleeing a flea market

    “Did you catch that typo?” I asked my oldest son, Stan Adam, as we drove past a place of active outdoor sales.

    He said he hadn’t, so I made a U-turn to give him another look. “I don’t see anything unusual —  for Las Vegas,” he said, “unless you’re looking at the way the people misspelled “flea.”

  • Editor's Note - Thoughts on working

    Editor’s note: This column first appeared on Labor Day 2011.

    If you are a working stiff, sweating away eight or more hours a day for someone who’s making the “big bucks,” there’s a good chance that you feel unappreciated.
    Or, if you’re a boss, stressing out over all the problems that confront you, you probably know that, from time to time, it really is “lonely at the top.”

  • Nuestra Historia - ‘Going from one country into another’

    East and West Las Vegas evolved as if they were two neighboring countries, divided by a river, with a border crossing on Bridge Street.

    The remarkable separateness of the two towns was vividly observed by Milton Nahm, as he recalled covering the Carl Magee trials as a cub reporter for the Optic in 1923 and 1926.

    Nahm’s description of the pronounced divide is intensely poignant, and his narrative transports you to that time:

  • Another Perspective - Negotiation, litigation, and never an agreement

    Last week we went into detail about how the City of Las Vegas and the acequias moved from litigation to negotiation and, unfortunately, back into litigation over Gallinas River water rights. Now let’s explore where the impasse currently stands — and how litigation is again getting in the way.

    When the court-ordered legal proceedings to resume litigation, the acequias sought to continue negotiations and, at first, the city seemed to agree. Not so now.

  • Work of Art - ‘Officer, it’s water, not beer’

    The commotion lasted half a Saturday morning, taking place almost directly in front of my house on Railroad Avenue, otherwise known as El Barrio.

    It was back in the ‘50s, on a summer morning when several of us spotted a shirtless neighbor, Tommy, driving while guzzling a can of Coors.

  • Editor's Note - Listing our water needs

    Two weeks ago in this space, I told you about a couple of watershed tours I took with several others. The New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute organized a tour of the Gallinas Canyon watershed, where Las Vegas gets nearly all its water, and a second-day excursion to Raton, where we toured that city’s watershed, which burned a year ago.

  • Nuestra Historia - A tale of two cities

    As in the Dickens classic, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, as East and West Las Vegas grew along the Gallinas River after the railroad arrived in 1879.

    For almost a century — except for a permutation from 1882 to 1884 — the twin cities existed as separate and independent municipalities, each with its own mayor, council, administration, police and fire departments. Though separated only by a modest river, their evolution would be strikingly dissimilar, always accentuated by a stark racial divide which set the two towns apart.

  • Another Perspective - City, acequias still wrestling over water rights

    Historically, there has been a thriving agricultural community in and around Las Vegas, based on the acequias — which can be understood as both physical structures to deliver water and communities of people with a proud tradition.

    In the 1950s, the New Mexico Supreme Court gave the City of Las Vegas the right to take as much water as it needed from the Gallinas River under the so-called Pueblo Water Rights Doctrine. Using this decision, the city gradually increased the amount of water it diverted from the river until it was sometimes taking all the water available.

  • Work of Art - A psshh-ing expedition

    “Let’s go over that again, Phillip, and this time, try to get rid of the excessive tire pressure.”

    That was part of a bit of coaching I once did as a teacher of beginning speech in high school and college. My 33 years of teaching that subject yielded some interesting trivia.

    First, I learned that students in this area have peculiar speech mannerisms. How many times have you heard it said that people in Las Vegas specifically, and northern New Mexico generally, have their own style of talking?

    Let me explain: