Poncho Villa State Park
On our way between Davis Mountains State Park in Fort Davis, Texas and our friends John and Marcia’s house in Sierra Vista, Arizona, we stopped at the Poncho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico. This part of New Mexico is in a remote area right along side the Mexico border. When we first arrived, we were a little underwhelmed. It was cool and windy and flat.
The park lies right on the border. The more we looked at the view from our campsite overlooking the Mexican landscape the more beautiful it became. There was no wall to obscure our view.
There was a nice variety of desert plants. There was a woman camped near us in a dilapidated RV which she shared with a small dog, a toddler, a grade school aged girl and a teenaged girl. The middle girl cried a lot. They may have been happy but it made me sad to consider their lives.
The next morning we went to the Poncho Villa Museum, which is part of the State Park, and wow what an eye opener!
On March 9, 1916, Poncho Villa and his troops invaded the town of Colombus.
There was a 20 minute video with pictures of the invasion and interviews with people who had survived the attack. Somebody had the forethought to record these survivors back in the 60’s and 70’s while they were still alive. The film was mesmerizing.
Soldiers from the 13th Calvary Regiment, that was stationed in Columbus, were taken by surprise but finally got organized and drove the invaders back with their light machine guns but not before soldiers and civilians were killed. President Woodrow Wilson ordered General Pershing to follow Poncho Villa into Mexico. Pershing and his troops, including a young Patton, chased after Poncho Villa for 9 months and never captured him. The start of World War I ended the expedition. It was the first time that the US used motorized vehicles in a conflict.
In the museum were artifacts from the expedition including guns, swords, machine guns, ammunition, uniforms worn buy the soldiers, saddles, letters home the soldiers wrote and many more fascinating artifacts.
Reports about Poncho Villa are colorful and varied. Some write that he was a bandit, some that he manned the first socialist revolution of the Western hemisphere and some say he was a Robin Hood figure who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. He had a good number of wives and children. He played himself in a few Hollywood movies.
It was a good stop. We learned a lot, got a nice hot shower and a good night’s sleep.