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Title: Construction of the Belen Cutoff

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight; William Penner

A brief history of the construction of the Belen Cutoff and its effects.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (commonly known as the AT&SF) formed in Kansas in the mid-nineteenth century with plans to build a railroad to Colorado and New Mexico. The AT&SF crossed into New Mexico via Raton Pass in 1878 and built south...

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Title: Settlement and Homesteading in East-Central New Mexico

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight; William Penner

A brief history of settlement and homesteading in east-central New Mexico.

New Mexico’s population grew during the nineteenth century. Hispano families began to settle beyond the Rio Grande Valley and establish new villages. Some communities obtained land grants from the Spanish or Mexican governments; others settled with...

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Title: Scholle: A Portrait of a Railroad Community

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight; William Penner

A brief history of Scholle, New Mexico, a railroad community on the Belen Cutoff.

Many communities in east-central New Mexico are relatively new when compared to those in the Rio Grande Valley and other parts of the state. When the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway constructed the Belen Cutoff, it opened an area for settleme...

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Title: The First Hispanic Telegraph Operator

Author(s): Felix Gabaldon (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)

Felix Gabaldon talks about being the first Hispanic to work in a depot on the Santa Fe Railway in eastern New Mexico.

My first job was in Abo, about three weeks, maybe, and then I bumped somebody in Mountainair. I was there three, four years, then I went to Fort Sumner, worked there another maybe six, seven months. From Fort Sumner, I went to Roswell then to Dexter....

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Title: El Velador del Cañon de Abo

Author(s): Eliseo R. Sisneros (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)

Eliseo R. Sisneros talks about working for the Santa Fe Railway in eastern New Mexico.

One night there was a rock come down in Abo Canyon and it hit the electric warning fence and knocked a hole in it. They called the Belen Section and couldn’t find a foreman. So I went up there with the assistant foreman and a bunch of men to help t...

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Title: Wherever The Work Took Us, That’s Where We Went

Author(s): Randy Dunson (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)

Randy Dunson talks about growing up on the Belen Cutoff and the experiences his father, a track supervisor for the Santa Fe Railway in eastern New Mexico, had with Navajo work gangs.

The first eight years of my life were spent in a 40-foot wooden boxcar converted for living quarters. Up and down the Belen Cutoff; just wherever the work took us that’s where we went. I made every school between Clovis and Belen, except Yeso. We w...

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Title: Anything Was Wrong With The Track We Had To Fix It

Author(s): Fidel Padilla (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)

Fidel Padilla talks about working on the Scholle section gang for the Santa Fe Railway near Mountainair, New Mexico.

My father was first at work here in 1919 in Abo and then they hired me after him. He worked for 10 cents an hour. I started to work in 1940 for the Santa Fe Railroad. Then my brother Elfido worked in here. We both worked together in Scholle, Belen. ...

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Title: Life At the Sais Crusher

Author(s): Bill Huckabay (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)

Bill Huckabay talks about life at the Sais Crusher where his father worked for the railroad overseeing quarry operations.

My dad was working as civil engineer for the railroad, and it was his job to make sure the contractor was doing what they were supposed to do at the crusher. My friend Albert McNeil’s dad (Louis McNeil) was the superintendent for the contracting co...

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Title: There’s What I Call A Triangular System Of Compadrasco

Author(s): Francisco Sisneros (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)

Francisco Sisneros discusses his family who settled in the Abo area in the mid-nineteenth century.

The family moved from Casa Colorada on the Rio Grande up to the area of El Arroyo Colorado north of the Abo ruins in about 1854. Somewhere in between, during the time of the Civil War, we know that they were at La Salada, the area south of Abo. We do...

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Title: A Lot Of Our Neighbors Were The Original Homesteaders In That Area

Author(s): Dorothy Cole (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)

Dorothy Cole remembers the era of pinto bean farming around Mountainair in first half of the twentieth century.

A lot of our neighbors were the original homesteaders in that area. They stayed through the whole bean field thing. Bill Rogers, he and Vernie Wells, they lasted longer at dryland farming than anybody did, up until probably ’75 or ’76. After the ...

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