After crossing back into the States, one of my camps was in Columbus, NM at Pancho Villa State Park. It’s a cool, little park in its own right, with a cactus garden and some interesting long-term tenants… but it was the history tied to Pancho Villa that caused me to stop here over other parks.
I received an extremely enthusiastic greeting upon arrival by a passionate museum volunteer. I parked The Rover in the primative area, which happened to be by the very first grease pit used by the U.S. Army, then explored the museum that is at the entrance to the park.
The museum was great, with an even-handed viewpoint of the Columbus Raid, and exhibits were in both English & Spanish. The museum staff was phenominal in their knowledge & attitude.
9 March 1916 Pancho Villa’s troops raided Columbus, New Mexico. The reason’s for the raid, and why Columbus was chosen, are still being debated, but the acquisition of supplies was certainly a goal. The battle lasted for an hour and a half. 75 raiders, 10 American civilians, and 8 U.S. soldiers were killed. Several buildings in Columbus were burned to the ground. It is doubtful that Pancho Villa ever entered the town.
The park museum has exhibits from both the Villa raid, and the Punitive Expedition that General Pershing led into Mexico from Columbus. It features a Curtiss “Jenny” bi-plane, a Dodge staff car from the Pershing era, a Jeffrey Quad armored vehicle (precurser to the tank), and a Dodge convertible that was riddled with bullet holes as its occupants fled Columbus and Villa’s men.
(Would it be a good time to mention that I saw SUV’s in Mexico with similiar inflictions? Of course, those had been torched, as well as shot.)
My favorite vehicle, however, was the FWD truck built by the Four Wheel Drive Auto Co. out of Wisconsin.