Catron County, New Mexico has about 400 miles of paved road, and we're planning to walk every mile of it ... eventually ...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Falling Down House

I've been curious about this old house near Alma ever since we started driving that way regularly, and I got lucky last week. We drove past it and noticed that the heavy rains we've been getting have taken their toll, and it really looks like the house is getting ready to give up the ghost. I stopped to take a picture, and noticed an old guy on the porch of an old adobe close by, so I walked up and asked if he could tell me anything.

Turns out he sure could. The man on the porch was Harold Keith, and the house was actually his father and mother's general store and gas station, built in 1940. There was an awning of some kind, and gas pumps out front, and it originally sat right on the very edge of where the highway runs now. The gas pumps were right where the center line is. In 1955 or so, they were deciding where to put highway, and there was some question of which side of the ridge it would go on. In the end, they decided to run it on the west side, and the store had to go. So the Keiths picked it up and moved it about fifty yards uphill.

I think the guy had a little trouble understanding me, and I had a little trouble understanding him too. I probably didn't ask all the questions I could have, and I'm not sure exactly about the dates. When I asked him how old the house was, he said "Older'n you and me both." So when he said it was built in '40, my first thought was 1840, which caused him to protest that weren't neither of us old enough for that.

The old road, the one that was replaced by the new Highway 180, would have hooked up with this old bridge built in 1926, which crosses the San Francisco River a little east of where 180 crosses it now. They've got it fenced off for safety, although you can climb the fence and walk across it, if you like, and imagine the kind of vehicle that might have crossed it 80 years ago. Horse drawn carts and mule drawn wagons, maybe, or funny old model T's and the like.

Anyway, Number One Daughter took a few pictures of the leaning house in it's present state of just barely keeping gravity at bay, but lost them to the computer gremlins. We'll take another picture tomorrow, but it may already be too late. Driving away from talking with Mr. Keith, I realized that I've met him before. I was at the County Fair about two years ago, fooling around with a guitar belonging to the local school's music teacher and keeping an eye on the fiber arts exhibit, and he came over and listened, and then he played a few songs for me. He's a cowboy poet, real old school, and he came back the next day with a tape he had made of himself for me. Kind of embarrassing not to recognize him until too late. At the time crusty old cowboy ramblings weren't all that interesting to me, but he went to a bit of trouble to make me that tape. Must see if I can find it, and then see if there's a way to make an audio link.