Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pancho Villa State Park

So why is it called "Pancho Villa State Park?"

The flourishing border town of Columbus, NM, with its Army "Camp at Columbus"  were doing fine. There were three hotels, a bank, two churches, a Ford dealership and a Coca Cola bottling plant. On March 9, 1916, at about 4:20am, Mexican revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa and anywhere from 300 to 600 of his Villistas (depending on which museum you visit) suddenly raided the town and the Army camp. Ten US soldiers and eight civilians were killed, plus many injured, Some buildings were burned, and most of the businesses looted.
Pancho Villa
The Army responded as did some civilians. 70 to 200 Villistas (again depending on the museum) were killed, several captured and six were hung a few months later..

The morning after the raid, President Woodrow Wilson ordered a Punitive Expedition to capture and take Villa out of commission. A week later, trains were arriving in Columbus, loaded with soldiers. General John "Black Jack" Pershing arrived to lead them into Mexico after Villa.
General Black Jack Pershing (Yay for our side!)
The Punitive Expedition was the first time ever that motorized vehicles were used by the Army on a military expedition.

 It was also the first time the First Aero Squadron was used in a military action. All eight of the original Jennies were out of commission within a month, but were eventually replaced by sturdier, more powerful craft. The First Aero Squadron made a total of 540 flights over a distance of 19,554 miles.
full-sized model of a "Jenny"

While the Expedition was unsuccessful in capturing Pancho Villa, and was called back after 11 months by President Wilson, who had recalled the group in anticipation of hostilities in Europe (World War I), the activity was a success in demonstrating the use of motorized vehicles and air craft in military action. It signaled the end of the mounted cavalry. On the afternoon of February 5, 1917, the last of more than 10,000 men, 9,000 horses and some 20 Villista prisoners recrossed the border at Columbus. The final cost if the prolonged manhunt was $130 million.

We visited the museums here, and saw so very much.

This Dodge Touring Car is the same model that Pershing used during the Punitive Campaign.

This was the Camp Furlong Recreation Center.
The Camp at Columbus had been renamed when the Punitive Campaign began. 

The original U.S. Custom House is preserved at the site.

Statue of Pancho VIlla in "downtown" Palomas, Mexico

There was so much more to see and write about, but Windows 10 is making things difficult for me. Please forgive this sudden close of an edition from ... Our Life on Wheels.


  1. We had a wonderful time at the park and town also.
    Good luck with Windows 10. I haven't loaded it yet. It was recommended to me to wait six months.

    1. Probably a damn good idea. We both jumped in with both feet, so we are four feet under. Good thing there weren't three of us!

  2. Thanks for the history lesson. There were a lot of fascinating stuff that happened back in history and I love to hear or read about them.

  3. We liked Columbus New Mexico with all it's quaintness. I remember doing the walking tour around town of the battle & you can still see bullet marks in some buildings. When first in Columbus in December of 06 I used to drive over & park in front of the library at night to catch their Wife signal to publish my blog's posts. We also used their computers inside as well during the day sometimes. They have a Seniors center there with really cheap meals & we ate there a few times. Had Christmas dinner in that center of Dec 25th 2006. And we both got to sit on Santa's knee that day while he handed us a present. Anytime traveling I-10 across that area I would always look southward to the 3 Sisters mountains & remember with great fondness our time spent at Pancho Villa State Park, Columbus, & the Pink Store.............:))

  4. Oh my, Al, you have seen so much more of Columbus than we have. Give it to the Canadians to take full advantage of our southern border! We'll have to make a Christmas trip of it this winter. Thanks for the information!!!

  5. I keep asking that question myself. He murdered so many innocent people and children too. Yet they name a park after him and her in Tucson there is a huge statue .
    Oh well glad you enjoyed the town it does have lots of history

  6. Interesting tour - we haven't explored much in that area beyond the Pink Store. Must add it to our bucket list.

    I upgraded my computer to Windows 10 also. Only thing I noticed is the Microsoft solitaire games are gone, and now they want us to accept poorer graphics and advertising or pay to have no ads. Rats!


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