tv Tour of Las Cruces CSPAN August 5, 2018 5:44pm-6:01pm EDT
you can view our tv schedule, preview upcoming programs and watch college lectures, museum tours, archival films and more. american history tv at c-span.org/history. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's public cable television companies. youy, we continue to bring unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme policy eventsic in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. this weekend, american las cruces,eatures new mexico where c-span's cities tour staff recently traveled to see its historic sites. the city was founded in 1849 and means the crosses in spanish. learn more about las cruces this
weekend here on american history tv. >> by the time the americans come out to this part of what would later become the united states, this is already old. this place is already old. even the european histories are old. >> while in las cruces, we took a driving tour with the city new mexico state parks interpreter alex mares. >> thank you so much for showing us around the las cruces area today. alex: thank you for inviting me. >> you were born and raised in this area, right? alex: i am a child of the desert. my family is multicultural, bilingual. i can a lot of people in the south, we are along the border. i am native american. i interact with people in my job all over the world. >> we are at leesburg dam state park. we will also visit a lot of other places in the las cruces area. where are you taking us? alex: we will see leesburg dam state park area, will travel to
the village of a native indigenous community. we will see old mesilla, which dates back to the 1850's. of course we will see parts of old downtown las cruces as well. >> let's get to it. right now we are overlooking leesburg dam state park. tell me more about this area. alex: this is a really old area. we just start with the natural environment, the geology and terrain, the rio grande, the river below us, is only one of five rivers in the entire planet that is in a valley it did not create. the reason the river is in the valley now is because it sits atop a rift. as a result of this rio grande rift, underneath the valley and parts of the river like here at leesburg, there is actually geothermal activity. there is still magma, hot, molten magma. as a result, the groundwater and
river water that come in contact when it pushes back up creates hot springs. these springs, in addition to being geothermal and hot in the riverbed mixing with cold water, they contain an element known as radium, which has a radioactive half-life. there are a lot of of people believe it has therapeutic, healing properties, medicinal properties, but this is what has attracted people for thousands of years to this area, this water in the desert and these hot springs. >> when you say thousands of you really mean early settlers to the year -- to the area. alex: early to the settlers. this area we are looking at is a mountain range. amounts you see off to the distance in the left are the highest you see in the area. they are just shy of 9000 feet above sea level.
the oregon mountains. between here and those two mountain ranges are prehistoric villages and artifacts from people from the last ice age, 10 to 12,000 years ago, two people , 4000 toarchaic period 6000 years ago, to the ancestors of today's modern pueblo people. we still have modern pueblo people living in new mexico that descend from these folks. then, of course, we have the spanish history. all of the old hispanic families that you find in northern new mexico, all of them and their ancestors had to have come from this area. this is the immigration route and where they came out of what would later becomes old mexico. talkingyear are we here? alex: in the early 1500s, 1530, 1540, the first spanish explorers and conquistadors came
through. >> it predates plymouth rock? alex: it predates plymouth rock, and most of what happened back east and the early american colonial. and the revolution. this happens a century or more prior to all of that. >> we are talking about immigration to the area. you are close to the border here in las cruces. what is the relationship between the u.s.-mexico border when it relates to new mexico? alex: if you are talking culture, i like to joke with tourists and visitors that my whole life i have heard about this international border and state borders, that i have never seen them. they have shown them to me on paper, but i have never seen them. what i mean by that is if you are born and raised in this community, this el paso/las cruces immunity, and it may be true for other communities,
anglo and hispanic like, we're interwoven, interdependent and intermixed, we are really, really tight. it's a cross-cultural community. movement between the two countries has always been easy. historically it has been pretty fluid and easy-going. there are a lot of people who have family on both sides. people have been here longer than the borders and the ties and the relationships go back when the borders have been moved. the borders have been moved and changed, but the people and relationships have pretty much stayed the same. you will have families in this -- and we are talking 150 years ago, they had already mixed. it is reflected in language, our border language is often
times a mix of english and spanish. the food is another example. heavily influence of mexican culture in our food. >> as we turn left and you speak of food, we are going past a lot of pecan gross. does agriculture play a big role -- pecan groves. does agriculture play a big role in new mexico? alex: yes, the big reservoirs, the primary reason for building them is to trap and store snow and rainfall from southern colorado and northern new mexico, the whole reason being , all of these peak contrary's -- pecan trees. >> you are also known for green chili. alex: green chili, the community of hatch and the hatch valley has gotten patented and copyrighted that no one can legally call their chili hatch chili unless it is grown in the hatch valley. they have gone to court over that.
it is a big deal. chili is king and now pecan is rising up a close second to being king in the valley. >> where are we headed now? alex: we are traveling the valley from the north end going down the center. we will go close to the river. we will cross the rio grande and stop by a roadside historic landmarker, which basically is a monument to the signing of the gadsden purchase. >> we have pulled off literally into the dirt on the side of the road to see this small marker. although it is tiny, it has a big role in southwest and american history. what are we looking at? alex: the u.s. goes to war against mexico. 1846 to 1848. mexico loses and actually they lose the moment they decide to give in and to say, ok, let's stop fighting. we give up. it was right after the battle in
a little community south of us in the valley going towards el paso. then they have to decide, where is mexico going to end and the u.s. begin? the mathematics and instruments they had to survey and measure, as good as they had at the time, they were still off. they decide that the rio grande is going to play a role in this border. the problem is, the river moves back and forth. they decide to set some fixed markers. that is why they made a fixed marker here. this is one of the corners that will later become known as the gadsden purchase. this corner marker is at that time, 1848, 1850, and actually the beginning of mexico and the end of the u.s. the little community we are going to go to, old messia, the reason that exists is about 50 or 60re
families and this time, 1852, that do not want to become u.s. citizens. it is one of those instances in history where we can say, not all mexicans want to become americans. not everybody is trying to jump over here. these folks jumped out of the united states into mexico. >> we should go to old messia and see this. alex: we have just entered the town limits. it is common to find cars driving or parked in and around las cruces owned by both anglo and hispanics alike. they will have a bumper sticker spanish].[speaking it will have the translation, i am a proud messian. they are very proud of being of and from messia. it all goes back to them not
wanting to become u.s. citizens after the war. >> talk about that. alex: before the gadsden purchase, about 50 to 60 primarily hispanic families literally pick up all of their belongings, leave their homes standing, load up their wagons and look across the river, east to west, see a little hill, hence the name little hill, and they say that is where we are going to move to, back to mexico and that is where we will build our village. that is why they call it see a -- call it messia. history has a weird twist. a year or two years later, when they do the gadsden purchase, they wind up back in the united states. we have now entered the old historic plaza. osk or notice the ki gazebo has both the u.s. and mexico flag. the m is for missia.
it was 1854 when they established themselves in the signing of the got stint purchase. that was a jail there and this was a warehouse. these are old adobe buildings. the brick sidewalks, the street is even brick. >> this is a large place for tourists? alex: this is tourism center. this is the magnet or hub for this area. >> we are leaving the plaza. where to? tox: we are going to head another little community that is not as old, but is still very unique and distinct. >> we are turning into the tortugas neighborhood. tell me more about this area. alex: tortugas is plural for turtles. they are native pueblo people. the story is that when they flee
to mexico in 1680 as a result of the 1680 revolt, they are two groups. one group is about two weeks ahead of the other group. it is a mixture of mexican indians, spaniards, and pueblo people who are fleeing the revolt. they were forced by the spanish to flee with them. the straggler group that is behind the main group, the main group says, they complain or say those people are moving slow and moving like turtles. this building over here on the left is kind of a terra-cotta color, that building, this building and that building all three buildings are the same color. these are the social and religious and ritual ceremonial structures they built here. the biggest event of the year for these people, and tourist come, and family members come from all over the world who have moved away, they come during the
week of december at the 12th. so in december they have the event. and in the other building they will have candles and they will dance all night long there. they will have ritualistic prayer and dance. it is a mixture of both roman catholic and indigenous beliefs. the people here are really kind of a neat microcosm of a lot of new mexico. ofy are san add mixture spanish, mexican-indian, and native new mexicans. >> it kind of shows the diversity of the area. alex: right. >> we have seen the tortugas neighborhood. should we see the downtown? alex: yes. all theseave seen historic locations and we are entering the modern downtown of las cruces. alex: right. happened tohings it
do several years ago was, they consolidated all museums to be all shoulder to shoulder it located on main street. they spent several million dollars and it took several years to renovate this entire main street district. it is ultramodern. everything is brand-new. the parks and sidewalks and lighting. they still tried it to keep the feel of a certain time period. now everything is within walking distance. you can walk to restaurants. you can walk to the historic theater, you can walk to the bookstore. you can walk to all of the museums. >> we have been all around the las cruces area. we talked about its history and earliestere the settlers started and now we are here into modern downtown. what would you like to see next for southern new mexico? alex: the next thing is really to make reality the idea of
making this a destination for specifically cultural and ecotourism, heritage tourism. i think we are poised for that. i think we have great potential. i really think we are poised for that. i think we have a greater potential for that than any other place in the southwest. >> thank you so much for showing us around the area today. cities tour staff recently traveled to let crusades, new mexico. las cruces, new mexico. you are watching american allory tv and -- tv weekend, every weekend on c-span3. ♪