Friday morning we headed over to check out Old Town Mesilla which was only a couple of miles from our RV park. We had no idea what to expect. Prior to 1800, Mesilla was simply a camping or stopping place for Indians and Spaniards. Permanent settlers came to Mesilla after the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. Constant attacks by Apaches were a huge problem until they formed their own militia and retaliated. In 1851 Fort Fillmore was established to provide some protection. As a result of the Mexican War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mesilla ended up within a strip of land claimed by both Mexico and the U.S. basically a "no-man's" land. Due to the closeness to Fort Fillmore, Mesilla became the supply center. In 1854, the Gadsden Purchase declared Mesilla officially part of the U.S. Along came the Civil War. In 1861, Colonel Baylor and 220 Texas Mounted Rifles arrived in Mesilla and the Union troops abandoned Fort Fillmore. Baylor raised the Confederate flag and established the short-lived territory of Arizona with Mesilla as it's capitol. In 1862, the Confederates ran short of food and retreated to Texas. Billy the Kid and other notorious figures frequented Mesilla. Billy was even tried there and sentenced to hang; however, that didn't happen. In the 1880's, Mesilla was a lively social scene but by 1881, the railroad by-passed Mesilla in favor of Las Cruces and it was downhill from there. With little growth, there was little change which resulted in what you see there today.
Interesting bed and breakfast.
The Plaza is a pretty place and, no doubt, much livelier on weekends and during the summer. It was very quiet while we were ther.
There are signs with information about the history of Mesilla.
Note the "M" and "54" noted in the sign above.
This building is the oldest documented brick building in the state of New Mexico. Construction began in 1860.
There are a lot of restaurants located in the old town area.
If you have read many of my posts from New Mexico, you will remember that Billy the Kid really got around this whole area.
The Fountain Theater dates back to 1905 and is still in use. It is now the home of the Mesilla Valley Film Society which features foreign and alternative films nightly.
This restaurant was absolutely huge. On another side, a worker was reapplying adobe in an effort to restore crumbling areas.
The Saint Albino Catholic Church has been a parish since 1852. We had hoped to view the beautiful stained glass windows and interior but the church was locked......very surprising for a Catholic Church.
We enjoyed our visit to Mesilla but it would have been much better with some activity going on. On a side note, we stopped at the Visitor's Center which was in the lobby of the local government offices. They had absolutely no information on Mesilla at all although they had lots of pamphlets and brochures on other places in New Mexico. We tried to ask some questions about what we might be missing. One gentleman sitting behind the desk apologized and said he didn't work there and didn't know. He said the man next to him was the employee.....and then commented about how helpful it would be if the man quit playing on his phone and helped us. Not a good way to treat visitors to your town who are actually interested in seeing thing.