|We arrived at Ruidoso and were off and running to the Hurd Gallery the next day. Peter Hurd is a famous painter who did the wonderful mural in Artesia, at our Carlsbad stay. He married Henriette Wyeth who was an accomplished artist in her own right. They parented three children who also became artists. Michael Hurd is the last of the Hurd artists and still continues to paint. We were honored to meet him while we were there. He was a wonderful, warm, gentleman with a great sense of humor. It was a real treat.
The next day we were off to Fort Stanton in the hills north of Ruidoso. This fort has quite a history. It was established in 1855 to protect settlers from the Indians, was an
Indian agency from 1868-1874, and in 1899 was turned into a Tuberculosis Hospital for Merchant Marine Seamen. Lt. "Black Jack" Pershing took it over and it became a detention center for German and Japanese deemed troublemakers by the Dept. of Justice. In 1945 the prisoners were sent home. Fort Stanton was designated a state monument in 2007 and efforts are being made to reconstruct it.
The Smokey the Bear Museum was next. It is quite small, but archives the story of Smokey.
A little cub had been caught in the path of a fire and had not fared as well. He had taken refuge in a tree that was now completely charred. His climb had saved his life but left him badly burned on the paws and hind legs. Firefighters removed the little bear cub from the burned tree, but they did not know what to do with him. A rancher, who had been helping the firefighters, agreed to take the cub home. A New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Ranger heard about the cub when he returned to the fire camp and drove to the rancher's home to get the bear. The cub needed veterinary aid and was flown in a small plane to Santa Fe where the burns were treated and bandaged.
The news about the little bear spread swiftly throughout New Mexico. Soon the United Press and Associated Press picked up the story and broadcast it nationwide. Many people wrote or called to inquire about the little bear's progress. The State Game Warden wrote an official letter to the Chief of the Forest Service, presenting the cub to the agency with the understanding that the small bear would be dedicated to a publicity program of fire prevention and conservation. The go-ahead was given to send the bear to Washington, DC, where he found a home at the National Zoo, becoming the living symbol of Smokey Bear.
A few miles from Fort Stanton is the Spencer Theater. It is out in the "country" in the middle of 74 acres. A lady named Jackie Spencer who was very wealthy, had a dream to build a theater in Carrizozo, New Mexico. It took 15 years to plan, and cost twenty-two million dollars to build. Totally funded by Jackie Spencer. The building is spectacular.
Dale Chihuly, a famous Seattle glass blower was commissioned to do five sets of art throughout the theater. Although small, 514 seats, it is state of the art. It hosts world class touring concerts, shows, plays, operas, and dance companies. We were taken backstage. The halls to the dressing rooms are completely covered with autographs of the stars doing the shows. There are so many, they have started on the ceiling. It was great!!
On the way home we stopped by the Hubbard Museum of the West. The front of the Museum is adorned with full sized galloping horses of each of the main breeds. What is amazing is that each horse is mounted to the ground at one point of his hoof. It is called "Free Spirits at Noisy Water".
The last day we visited the Valley of Fires, not to be mixed up with the Valley of Fire outside Las Vegas. This lava did not flow from a volcano. Through cracks in the earth, lava vents extruded lava and has a characteristic rope pattern to it. It is 2 to 5 miles wide, 44 miles long, and in some places 165 ft. thick. The walkway is about 1 1/2 miles long. It still amazes me how plants, mostly cactus can grow in the rock.
The last stop was the Three Rivers Petroglyphs. A short 1/4 mile hike takes you up a hill and everywhere you turn there are petroglyphs. It would be interesting to know why they were so many of them here, but at this point no one is sure.