Mora County Notebook: Many things have changed in the Mora Valley

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By Ruth Fort

Mora Valley has held onto the old but still has had changes. Strangers may not realize that there have been changes as this beautiful valley still holds onto the historic past but change have had to take place in the last 60 years. Those who were here at that time and before can see the changes that have taken place.

The beautiful mountains are never changing and the beautiful people are the same as always. They have a love of their home and family and love for their neighbor as in the old days. New people come and find this is a good place to be.

Some buildings and businesses have changed, some for the better and some of necessity. For one thing since the early days most everyone has a vehicle, truck or car or both.

The roads are not like they used to be.  People can travel long distances to work, shop visit and for fun. In the old days the roads were almost impassable in winter or during heavy rains. The streets of Mora were dirt and the roads to villages as to Chacon, Guadalupita or Buena Vista or Le Doux were mud holes sometimes and a driver had to negotiate through deep tracks to get to their destination. The main street of Mora was a highway that lead over the mountain to villages there Paving came in during the 50’s and then little by little black top and gravel and the big machines that the highway department obtained improved the roads to the smaller villages. Now, people can zip down to Mora or Las Vegas in no time. This changed the way shopping, work and even church was done.

It is said that at one time there were 21 bars in the Mora Valley all the way from Buena Vista to Chacon and there must have been as many grocery stores in each little village. People needed to be able to buy the necessities close to home as they had a hard time going places but though bars were not a necessity evidently some people took the advantage to have them available. So, a big change took place in the Mora Valley since roads and thus transportation has improved as there are now no stores in the villages. But in Mora there were 13 bars in the 50’s and there were five big stores most of them had most any thing one needed on their shelves.

Some of the stores used to let a person buy on credit. In the early days one of the stores,  that I remember,  had wrapping paper on a big roll and a spool of string hanging over the counter, and scraps of yellow paper. When you brought your purchases to the counter the  owner would write down what you bought on the paper add it up and hang it on the nail. Then he would wrap your purchase and tie it with the string on the spool over his head. When you went in at the end of the month he would give you your bill from the slips of paper he had saved. What a difference from the present computerized cashier’s machinery doing the work in a few minutes? The stores in Mora in the early days (and there may have been more that I did not know) were; Strong and Trambley, Peter Balland, J.M. Sanchez and Sons, Hanosh and Trambley Market. Some stores have come and gone.There was a drug store and a druggist at one time. That place is an empty building now but in later years it had been a little shop called La Tiendita.

At the present time the old stores and bars have been torn down used for other purposes or stand empty. The Branding Iron Saloon is now The Cowboy Kitchen. Now there are two bigger stores Russell’s Discount Foods and Allsups and some little stores as the second hand gift shop and a health food store  

In the old days there were more bars than stores and restaurants and now there are only two bars Cleveland Bar and the Lounge and package liquor is available at Allsups. But there are five restaurants in the valley, Theresa’s Tamales, B-Jays and Kristy’s Kroner Kafe in Cleveland. At present there are three cafés and lunch food available at Allsups and Russell's. The cafés in Mora are Johnny’s Cowboy Kitchen, Little Alaska Ice Cream Parlor and Pizza Pro. There had been Hatcha’s Express until it was destroyed by fire recently. This is a change from the one or two that used to be in Mora.

At one time where Hatcha’s was, there was a restaurant run by Melendez and another where Pete Baca‘s home and business was that is now where the Community First Bank stands. There are really no places to hold dances except in the Lounge and VFW Hall but Tommy’s Inn, now called Teo’s Bar, was the place to have big parties and dances. That place also stands empty at the present time. This must mean a change in people’s attitude toward the importance of drinking and hanging out in bars. Although there are still some problems it seems that change has been good.

This shows some changes of the bars restaurants and the reason for some of the changes in Mora from the ‘50s. There are others who know different things about the stores, bars and restaurants and other areas as churches schools etc. This is not the end. There will be other stories coming. It would be good to hear stories and remembrances from other people and add them at other times.

Mora county shines at events

Although the state basketball tournament is done and the students in the Mora and Wagon Mound Schools did not win the championship they showed their skill in playing basketball sportsmanship and other areas.

The Mora Rangers won 26 games in the season,the most wins of any school in the state. They only lost three games in the entire season. In the state tournament the Rangers  played up to the quarter finals, with great  high scores throughout the season.The Rangerettes also made a great showing and made everyone proud by their many wins and high scores for each game.  They also played for state and won up to the quarter finals. Good job, girls and coaches.

The Wagon Mound Trojans also had a winning season and went as far as the semi finals of the state tournament before they were defeated. Good job for a small school with dedicated coach and players. They had a great season also with 20 wins and eight losses.

In other areas in the Mora schools, Mora Middle School students will represent Mora County in the state Spanish and English spelling bees.  

Further more there will be 15 students in the Professional Business of America in Mora High School going to compete in the National PBA Conference in Washington, D.C in May.

You are doing a great job students, coaches and teachers of Mora County, keep up the good work.

Ruth Fort is a Mora County correspondent. She may  be reached at (575) 387-6523 or ruthfortchacon@yahoo.com.