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White Oaks and the Drain Plug July 23, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in Billy the Kid, education, ghost towns, history, New Mexico, nostalgia, outlaws, westerns, Wild West.

It’s no secret that New Mexico is circling the drain in many ways, fiscally, population, jobs, education. Small towns are dying and it’s as if someone folded the state in the middle, the cities and towns on the east and west rolling to the crease that is the Rio Grande Rift. Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces are becoming the only populated places in the state.

That’s why I was delighted to see the small town of White Oaks down in Lincoln County giving a shot at putting in the drain plug by getting folks (ie, tourists) into their town, if only for an afternoon. The population is 70 and is situated in gorgeous terrain in the Sacramento Mts, near Ruidoso and oozing with history from the Lincoln County War to serious gold mining. There is a cenotaph in the cemetery memorializing one of the deputies Bill the Kid murdered (James W. Bell’s body is there somewhere–they don’t know where, so…). The last mine in town was a tungsten mine. The special occasion was the reinstatement after 40 years of a tribute potluck dinner for

David Jackson
His acceptance in the town so long ago is especially noteworthy because the first black to ride into White Oaks was hanged as a horse thief. David Jackson was the second and became a pillar of the community and brought electricity to Carrizozo, the county seat 12 miles away.

After the potluck at a very nice former schoolhouse turned museum, we got a tour of the town, including a soon-to-be-open bed and breakfast, a pre-1900 house with copper shingles and the town’s main draw now, the No Scum Allowed Saloon. Here’s a picture (Lorene Mills, photo):



1. adventuresfantastic - July 23, 2017

Thanks for the post. Since moving to LaButtocks, TX, a few years ago, I’ve started visiting New Mexico on a semi-regular basis and have always enjoyed my trips. I’ve gone to Lincoln the last three years and hope to make a quick trip there later this summer if certain things fall into place. I’ve been aware of White Oaks but have never made it there. I’m glad to hear they’re trying to bring visitors in. Hopefully I’ll be one soon.

bobv451 - July 23, 2017

Check out the Brown Store (being renovated nicely). Road immediately to the east (turn left) goes to the schoolhouse museum. Keep going east and you’re at the No Scum Allowed. From there look south and see the copper-shingled Hoyle House. The hills behind it are where the mines were. Here is a good set of photos and a writeup

2. Vince Giangrossi - July 23, 2017

Sadly it seem much of the younger generations are less able to feel the wonders of history and the awe of discovery. We gave them the gift of instant knowledge at their fingertips and all most of them seem to want to discover is what the celeb-du-jour had for lunch. Social media has become more important than socializing with you neighbors.
Since the start of the industrial age, the populace has migrated to the cities in search of work but these days many of the entry level jobs are filled by adults who can’t find real careers. Yet there are jobs everywhere if you have the education and/or training. People want FREE college yet so many take useless degrees or degrees in what are sadly dying vocations. I know someone who loves books and history, he wanted to be a librarian and received a degree in library sciences with a minor in history but now Libraries are a dying relic of the past because fewer people frequent them in some cases or in others, cities are closing them for lack of funds, its not his fault but it is his problem. Now the young flee to where ever they can find work or free benefits and those are still to be found in the cities. Rural areas like New Mexico will probably never again enjoy the boon of people seeking their fortune through the sweat of their brow because the system doesn’t work that way anymore.

bobv451 - July 23, 2017

All true. Getting a programming degree to handle databases is more useful than dealing with libraries. Sadly. It’s always been this way in America. “Go West, young man” because the land was increasingly urban back East. Until telecommuting takes hold–real hold–cities will increasingly grow and rural areas lose population. I love the history, but that is increasingly of no interest to most people, hence to readers (I remember Ray Feist saying the only use he had for a history degree was to turn it into medieval fantasies, which he has done most successfully.) Westerns and western history are in the same sinking boat as rural NM towns. [FWIW, we also stopped by Claunch, NM, and contributed a dozen or so books to their library–population of Claunch? 10]

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