Dateline:Aug 15, 2022

Hope, New Mexico

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The drive from Cloudcroft, New Mexico toward Carlsbad is pending Hope, beyond Hope, or, briefly, in Hope. The tiny village has been a curiosity for decades. Why is this town way out in the Chihuahuan Desert?

On a recent drive down the eastern slope of the Sacramento Mountains we followed a brimmed-up Rio Peñasco through lush fields full of livestock, but with less farming than remembered. The Peñasco gouged a wide canyon below Cloudcroft over centuries of violent flash floods, but is often just a dwindling trickle. On this day it flowed handsomely all the way down.

In the eastern foothills, near the lower Weed road, Rio Peñasco disappears, and one supposes it dribbles out into the porous sand of the high desert. In fact, it goes another forty miles across the parched plain to the Pecos River. These days the Peñasco riverbed is normally dry before it reaches the Pecos, but flash floods revive its old purpose as a tributary to the more famous river.

The Rio Peñasco flows all the way down from Cloudcroft, across the desert south of Hope to the Pecos River. The desert portion of the river is mostly dry these days, but flowed more voluminously in the decades after the explosion of Krakatoa, in 1883. They still do some irrigating at Hope (the green cirlces south of town). That's Artesia on the right, next to the Pecos.

In the late nineteenth century the Rio Peñasco increased its flow for a few decades and enticed hundreds of people to settle nearby with their cattle, sheep, orchards, and hopes for the good life. At first they lived near the river and lived in dugout-like homes they called Chozas. After a few flashfloods they learned to build further back.

The settlement was known as Badger, or Badgerville, reputedly a comparison of those Chozas to badger holes. That name may have been mostly used by outsiders, and maybe in a how-can-they-live-like-that(?) way. The village later renamed itself Hope, and that decision inspires myth.

The authoritative version of the story comes from Robert Julyan's book, "The Place Names of New Mexico." His account is copied, pasted, summarized and misquoted all over the Internet. Here's his story.

When this community was settled around 1884, its residents called the place Badgerville, or simply Badger, because they lived in dugouts, like badgers. This name would not serve, however, when the growing community needed a PO. The most popular and widely accepted explanation of the present name is that two early settlers, Elder Miller and Joe Richards, discussing who should give the name, tossed a dime in the air and shot at it with pistols to settle the issue. "I hope you lose," exclaimed Richards. Miller did, and Richards chose the name Hope. Richards's brother, J. Allen Richards, later wrote, "I remember the story as being told many times and that Joe did name the town Hope as a result of the shooting match." But one researcher has said that storeowner Jasper Gerald hoped for a PO at Badgerville and mail carrier Tom Tillotson hoped to expand his stops and increase his income, and the name resulted from both their "hopes" being fulfilled.

Hope New Mexico went viral, in a 1950s kind of way, when residents elected an all female city government. Life Magazine took note. Click for a slide show about this, and other Hope-abiia.

This is a good story and may call up the vision of some alkali-dusted old timer holding forth in the yellow glow of kerosene lamps, over a sudsy glass and a polished bar. If we take it to be anything more than a twice-told tale, it has some problems.

First, there's the premise that Badger and Badgerville were not suitable names for a post office. Nine states in the United States have post offices named Badger, and Canada has a Badgerville. As to the "most popular and widely accepted" story, timing is everything. The Hope, New Mexico Post Office was established in 1890. Arthur Elder Miller, known as Elder, was eleven years old in 1890, and Joe Richards, aka Joseph O Richards, was sixteen. The storied gunplay amongst such tender youth is believable for the time and place, but not the part about them choosing the name for a post office.

Mr. Julyan says shopkeeper Jasper Gerald may have chosen the name. This is perhaps a typo, or misremembered name. The postmaster of the first Hope, New Mexico post office was Mollie (Molly) Jarrell, married to James "Jasper" Jarrell, who seems to have started the first store in Badgerville-Hope. The Jarrells would have included the name of their proposed post office on their application to the Post Master General. Why did they choose Hope instead of Badgerville?

Newspapers in the late 1800s used the name Badger (or Badgerville), and after the post office opened they used both Badger and Hope, and sometimes Badger-Hope. Eventually, in the 1900s, Hope prevailed, and was used when the village incorporated in 1910. But, whence the name Hope?

Someone may know the story, or it may be explained in some unpublished letter or diary. The received stories recounted by Mr. Julyan, and others, seem mostly speculation, but we should point out his book was published in 1986, and follows closely the Hope Origin story in the book "New Mexico Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary ," by professor Thomas Matthews Pearce (1902-1986) published in 1966. See review linked above. Still, Let's toss some other speculative rings.

A newcomer to the Badger area at the time Jarrell set up his store and post office was William Daugherity. It's reasonable to think the Daugheritys were acquainted with the Jarrells. Daugherity was the constable, a school official, a freighter and mail contractor. He brought the mail to Hope from Seven rivers. He was rumored to be starting a newspaper. Daugherity's wife was, by the accounts of her children, a strong and influential person. She would certainly have discussed naming the post office with Molly Jarrell. Mrs. Daugherity was born in Hope, Arkansas.

One tempting explanation for picking Hope might have been more obvious at the time. Statehood for the New Mexico Territory was a widespread aspiration, and "hope" was a word often tied to the politics of the matter. Newspapers lectured about the hope of statehood, often with some imperative about the "only hope."

As to the Richards and Miller story, let's acknowledge its underlying strength. Elder Miller and Joe Richards were prominent local personalities, read characters, and the story of shooting a dime out of the air fits what little we know about them.

Joe Richards was a blacksmith, road contractor, businessman, and local politician. He moved to Artesia in the 1890s but owned land in the Hope area for years afterward. He later worked for the state building roads.

The local paper tells us in April of 1926, "Joe Richards and the road machinery arrived at Hope Tuesday, and started work on the Hope-Y-O crossing section of the road."

YO Crossing is an often mentioned but vaguely specified location. It's referenced, but not located, in water engineering reports, and as the "Old YO Crossing Road," on current maps. As nearly as we can tell it was a point at which the old wagon trail crossed the Rio Penasco, about where State Road 24 crosses the river today, some fifteen miles west of Hope. Apparently the village of Hope had signed up to sponsor a section of the new road from Artesia to Cloudcroft, and Joe Richards was building it.

Further establishing Mr. Richards' local-color credentials is this story in the paper from January 10, 1910. "Joe Richards doesn't like bears. He was flapping his hat at one of those with the Mexican circus last week, and after several clumsy attempts the bear got one paw inside the hat and ripped it open from stem to sternus. Joe tried to buy the bear but the Mexican evidently feared he had evil designs on their pet and refused to sell."

Elder Miller was a handsome young man of strong personality. He too was a blacksmith, a prominent position in pre-auto days, moved briefly to Artesia, but made his home in Hope. In 1901 he was indicted, but acquitted, of killing a man during a shootout. In later years he ran something called the "Pensasco Valley Second Hand Store and Tin Shop. See the ad nearby.

It's believable that Joe told barroom tales, probably told this one, certainly knew Elder Miller, and may well have included him with a prominent role.

They both seem to have been exactly the sort to figure in a genesis tale.

There's a chance Elder Miller and Joe Richards were agents in some other naming event. We know the names Badger, Badgerville, and Hope were all used during the 1890s. In 1893 a news article acknowledges the post office is named Hope, but continued to refer to the Badger people. Some stories seem to suggest Badger and Hope were two distinct places in the 1890s. By 1901 news articles referred to the Badger-Hope district.

When the twentieth century began, both names were in use, but the decade ended with Hope transcendent. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported on May 22, 1949, "Once the town was [called] Badgerville when it was among the farms along the banks of the Peñasco, but that name was dropped and Hope adopted after the town was moved to its present site about 1905."

That's a date consistent with the ages of Richards and Miller, and could make an otherwise anachronistic incoherence focus into what it probably was, a barroom tale with truth around the edges. We might conclude Badgerville stayed down by the river, while the smart money, and saloons, moved with the post office up to Hope. A 1921 Carlsbad Current-Argus story suggests as much. "John Beckett, of Hope, was here this week, visiting his daughter, Mrs. M. C. Stewart. Mr. Beckett has made his home in Hope since 1884, in what is known as the old 'Badger' settlement."

The village incorporated in 1910, and in that year the U. S. Census used the name, "Hope, New Mexico," for the area it had labeled, "Precinct 3 of Eddy County," in 1900.

Another Version

America has 25 towns named Hope, including this bear-sledding location in Turnagain Arm, Alaska.

There is another version of Julyan's origin gospel. In 1987, then mayor Dolph Jones told reporter Bart Ripp a similar story but with these changes: The naming event was not the post office but the city incorporation in 1910; the participants were alleged rancher Joe Wood (in for Elder Miller) and Joe Richards; they "had a few drinks in Dad Shelton's saloon" (suspicions confirmed); they went outside to flip a coin; then the Julyan story resumes with the coin flip and gunfire.

Joe Wood was the blacksmith in 1910 Hope, and he's buried in the Hope South Cemetery. Joe Richards had moved on to Artesia by that time. This is probably just too good a story to confine itself to a constant cast of characters.

Wrinkles on a Cow's Horn

The nearby news stories tell about Elder Miller's shootout, but let's comment on a few aspects. The gunfight was between two groups of young men, members and friends of the Miller family, versus the Wilburn boys, and friends. According to news accounts, the shooting broke out because, listen closely, one of the Miller boys, "had called one of the Wilburn boys to one side, on the morning of the day of the homicide, at church, and asked him if he had said that Elder Miller had said that Jim Wilburn had said that Luther Foster had sworn to the wrinkles on a cow's horn 300 yards away. This statement was denied, and led to the passing of the lie," according to the Carlsbad Current Argus of Friday, April 18, 1902.

Great Gods! He swore to the wrinkles on a cow's horn at 300 yards?? In the ensuing gunfire, augmented by a mysterious older man firing from behind some distant trees, perhaps the father of the Wilburn boys, one of the Wilburns died. The cause of the shooting is almost indecipherable out of its rural, hundred-years-ago context.

Perhaps it helps a little to note that counting the rings on a cow's horn is a method of telling the bovine's age. In that far off time of limited cash supply, trading was both entertainment and business. Perhaps someone accused someone of lying about a cow's age, a shooting offense.

The railroad heading toward Hope in 1911 never got there, but don't blame the Titanic .

Hope, Railroads & Titanic

Hope, New Mexico is a vanishing town. It still has about 100 residents, down from 300 in 1950, and a high mark of around 1600 in 1910. Businesses and schools have been long closed, but the post office, churches and cemeteries seem to be functioning.

By 1987 the stories had evolved. The link is to the Mayor's version of the naming tale, and the financing of the railroad.
Here's an early version (1939) of the Carlsbad Current Argus's Titanic tale with a hope for oil in Hope, followed by their 1949 version.

You may be surprised to know there is still irrigated agriculture in the area, probably from ground water. Satellite maps show several telltale irrigation circles south of the main road, and river.

The town has been declining since about 1914, but not from lack of enterprise. Some blame a failed railroad initiative. Hindsight now shows us the decline in the Peñasco annual flow, plus the 1933 adjudication of water rights called the Hope Decree, gradually emptied the Hope ditch and strangled the irrigation agriculture.

But the railroad story is nevertheless a typical Hope tale. The potted history favored by the Internet gives us a financier, a Brit named A. G. Ragsdale, who went off to London to gain financing, and sank with the money on the Titanic returning home. Some mention the possibility of fraud, since all the funds raised by Hope and Artesia folks also disappeared.

There are numerous, slightly different, incarnations of this story. As with the Badger-to-Hope tale, the Titanic-sank-the-railroad narrative has timing problems. The Titanic sank April 15, 1912, and there are news accounts years after that about the imminent start of railroad operations to Hope.

In July 1912 the Santa Fe New Mexican ran a story about Hope banker, H. M. Gage, meeting with Salt Lake businessman and financier, A. G. Liebman, to fund the immediate operation of the Artesia-to-Hope railway spur. The building of the railroad was deemed, "A lead pipe cinch." It doesn't mention the Titanic.

The Hope-Titanic story seems impervious to research. Contemporary papers don't mention it. The Hope Peñasco Valley Press was published during that time, and while it reports separately on the Titanic disaster and the Artesia-to-Hope railroad spur, it never connects them. This story of uncertain origins cycles through the newspapers at odd moments, with slightly altered details.

In 1992 the Santa Fe New Mexican cobbled up a story in which a Brit named Lord Jon Pierson of the Pierson Syndicate was in London seeking funding for the Hope railroad. He stowed the Hope railroad funding, gold bullion, in the Titanic safe. The story notes its lack of substantiation, but assures us the Titanic sank the Hope railway, and therefore, Hope itself.

A 1980 version of the story has the same general outline, but with important changes. Dolph Jones, the mayor in 1980, cited a newspaper in his possession from Derbyshire, England, which, he said, mentioned the sum of 12,500 English pounds raised for the railroad. The English financier's name was Phillip John Starkey. An Artesia businessman, J. J. Clarke, was said to have left a tape recording to the Artesia Historical Museum in which he testifies to having headed back to New Mexico on the Titanic, with the Englishman. Clarke later showed up empty handed in Hope, and blamed the loss of funding on the Titanic. The recording seems to be lost.

The 1980 story mentions an Artesia Advocate story from June 1912 about a mock memorial for the railroad, on account of the loss of the Titanic. The 1912 story can't be found.

In a 1987 version, Clarke doesn't go to England and survive the Titanic, but Starkey does. In this version, Starkey is a cousin of Hope merchant, Olin H. Ragsdale (see A. G. Ragsdale, above). None are mentioned as going down with the Titanic, although the money did. News accounts of the time name Clarke, a dentist in Artesia, as among early Hope railroad advocates, but doesn't mention his Titanic adventure.

Hope Inspires.The little village has played muse to many.

The earliest story blaming the Titanic for Hope, New Mexico's demise is a 1937 AP concoction marking the 25th anniversary of the unsinkable ship's dunking. The story insists the Titanic safe contained the gold meant to finance Hope's railroad. It appeared in newspapers all over the country. Curiously, the previous year (1936) a similar story featured Dr. Pierson of London's Pierson Syndicate sinking an irrigation scheme in Texas when he went down with the Titanic (see nearby). Its author, Ulmer Smith Bird, was a writer and journalist in San Angelo, Texas.

Can any sense be made of this strange, reality estranged story? Just a little, if we're not too fussy about details. There was an engineering syndicate building railroads around the west and southwest about that time. It was called the Pearson (not Pierson) Syndicate, named for Frederick Stark Pearson. Pearson was an American engineer/financier, graduate of Tufts, who was building railroads, power plants, irrigation projects, and much else in both north and south America. In the 1910 -1914 period he was the principal in something called the Quanah Railroad.

Quanah is a town in west Texas named for the famous Comanche Chief, Quanah Parker. The Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway was incorporated in 1902 with the declared intention of connecting the eastern states to El Paso. By 1910 numerous aspirational towns were ballyhooing and raising funds to get themselves on the route map to El Paso. These included New Mexico towns Roswell, Artesia, Cloudcroft, Dayton, and Hope. In each locale there were boosters raising funds and selling vigorously, hoping to get into Pearson's plans.

John C. Gage, called Parson Gage, was a booster for the Hope Spur. Money was raised and a plan enacted to start leveling a grade from Artesia to Hope. With construction about half way to Hope, and with the money running out, the completed portion was offered as collateral in a bond offering to complete it. The bonds didn't sell, and the project went sideways, declaring bankruptcy in 1914.

The WW2 Bataan death march fell heavily on New Mexico, including the tiny village of Hope.

As all that was going on, the Quanah connection to El Paso became more and more unlikely. It was, in fact, never built.

Frederick Stark Pearson was an inspiring man with dynamic, far ranging interests and accomplishments. Just the sort you'd expect to show up in a half-baked tale of might-have-been. Pearson had a branch office in London and made frquent trips there to arrange financing. On one such trip his ship sank sending him and his wife to Davey Jones' Locker. The ship was not the Titanic in 1912. It was the Lusitania in 1915. Within the rigors of a barroom tale, ocean liner disasters are fungible.

If, in the first three decades of the 20th century, you'd gotten most of your information hanging around bars and listening to the chatter over a mind-numbing beverage, you could have sourced any or all of the Hope-Railroad-Titanic stories. In the dim light and pleasant ambience, names mutate, and details blend.

Some ex-Hope ranchers reminisce.

Hope Abides

A few newspapers have published from Hope over the years, including "The Hope Booster," published by N. L. Johnson, the "Hope Press," by A. M. Burnett, the "Peñasco Valley news and Hope Press," by I. P. Murphy and later W. E. Rood, the "Peñasco Valley Press," by Abe M. Burnett, the "Pecos Valley Press." Drop by the University of New Mexico library and they can pull the microfiche for you. Or, you could try "Newspaper Archive," which has copies of the Hope Peñasco Valley Press from 1909-1929.

There have been some oil drilling efforts around Hope, with predictions of another boom, but apparently all the holes were dusters. The Pearson (sometimes Pierson) Syndicate also backed American oil drilling, but we don't know if they funded the Hope drilling.

This rare flow of the Rio Peñasco at Hope, NM links to the "Hope Decree."

If you guessed there was trouble, both upstream and downstream, from the Badgerites ditching water out of the Rio Peñasco, you probably know something about New Mexico politics. Water rights are serious business in Pecos Bill's country, and have led to more shootouts and nefarious killings than all the wrinkles on all the horns on all the cows that….ok, but there has been a lot of trouble over water.

Noel Johnson arrived in 1901, taking a prominent part in 20th Century Hope, as described in his Find-A-Grave entry.

Noel Johnson's daughter, Francis, conveys the importance of the river to Hope's prospects in her father's obituary. Noel Johnson was a sure enuff cow hand. He was born in Texas during the Civil War and tended beef critters from New Mexico all the way north to Montana and the Dakotas.

In 1901 Johnson went to Hope, acquired a land claim that included continuous water rights out of the river, granted by President McKinley we learn, shipping fruit and hay to eastern markets. His daughter tells us the water ran year around until about 1919. Noel became a village father, and went into several businesses including mercantile owner, insurance, real estate, hotel owner, and newspaper publisher. In the late 1920s he was a principal in an unsuccessful oil drilling effort. You can read her account in the nearby link.

In 1933 the State Engineer, whose main job is water adjudication, engineered a solution to the water problems of southeast New Mexico that has since governed the Pecos River and its tributaries, of which the Rio Peñasco is one. It's called the Decree of Hope, because the adjudication of water rights in the even then rapidly declining town of Hope, was the catalyst that spurred settlement of long standing water disputes along the lower Pecos River.

Life Magazine ginned up a novelty number about Hope in 1950, since Hope-ites had elected a female mayor and city council. The town had only a few good years left. The last three high school seniors graduated in 1955. The elementary school closed in the 1960s, and area children now attend an elementary to the west at the turnoff toward Weed.

In the 1960s there was at least one store, and over the years filling stations and stores have popped up for a while. There used to be an empty police car parked on the highway to discourage high-speed scofflaws. Some have claimed being stopped for speeding in Hope, but before believing them, think of the Titanic.

Hope has continued attracting America's creative talents. A 1972 movie that helped found the Viet-Vet-as-dystopic-sociopath theme, "Welcome Home, Soldier Boys" features a bloody massacre set and filmed in, Hope, NM. The parched village is also a battle ground in the modern zombie mythos called World War Z. Oh well.

On our recent Hope transit there was no sign of life, no businesses, no water in the Rio Peñasco, and not even a tumbleweed crossing the road. The post office is still there. And the churches and cemeteries. Elder Miller is buried in one of them, but Joe Richards is in Artesia. Both died in their 60s in 1942.

If you stand in the middle of the highway and listen intently, you may hear a faint steam whistle. Don't mistake it for a ghost train. It's the distress horn on the Titanic, and that rustling is the sound of Badgerites covering their wallets as they hope for better times, or another Krakatoa.

1903 Hope, New Mexico Baseball Team
This image is from the Artesia, NM Historical Society. They provide the following caption. "Members of the first baseball team in Hope, NM. Photograph was taken in 1903. Members pictured are Geo. Beckett, Elder Miller, Charley Cole, Dane Buckett, Dan Buckett, Irvin Miller, Joe Richardson, Tom Buckett, and Cal Buckett, as well as three unidentifed playsers." We assume this is a left-to-right listing disregarding front and back designations, making Elder Miller first on the left, back row, and Joe Richardson (aka Richards) fourth left, back row. We should note Joe Richards was often misidentified as Joe Richardson (by newspapers, the 1920 census, and so forth). Click for full-size image.

Back to the Attic

Who in the world cares about the Hope?


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The Life Magazine article about Hope, New Mexico is in the next two slides. Or, if you want to slip back to that time, have a quick look at the entire magazine.

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Even aside from the Village of Hope's creative legend making about trains, The Titanic, and the origin myths, Hope, New Mexico has inspired the talents of America's dreamers and doers.

Here is a little sample of the muse called Hope.

Watch the shootout in Hope.
Here's a generous review.

In 1971 a Warner Brothers movie called "Welcome Home Soldier Boys" defined the cliched treatment of Vietnam Veterans in popular culture. The climax, see nearby-linked Youtube video, was filmed in Hope, New Mexico.

The movie is incredibly bad, and the Hope scene is one of its worst. Still it's fun to see the old town on the silver screen. We found only one building in the movie still identifiable as one seen today on main street.

Watch Ernie go through Hope.
Ernie's progress blog.

Running and walking coast to coast are frequent enterprises, often for fund raising. Ernie Andrus did it twice, first in 2013 at age 90, and again, the other way, in 2016 at 95. His hope was to raise funds for " the LST 325 Ship Memorial." Ernie was a World War II Navy veteran, and he tells us was use to lnd equipment and troops "on hostel shores."

As you've guessed, Ernie went through Hope, New Mexico. You can see what Hope was to him in a nearby video, and get a little idea about his efforts in his web site.

Steve Garufi

In 2011 biker Steve Garufi found a place in Hope to stop and get a hand-made burrito.

Steve Garufi made his second ride across America in 2011, and went through Hope. Here's how he introduces himself. "My name is Steve Garufi. I am a cyclist, hiker, photographer, and Colorado poster child in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a Licensed Professional Counselor, a "talk therapist" for my vocation. In 2008, I biked across America for the first time and wrote a book about it. On this page is Trip #2. My goodness, I realize how lucky I am to have biked across the country twice! :)"

It's interesting to note how many people transiting the country on foot and by bike, do it twice. It's a common theme noticed in the more famous ones, from Edward Payson Weston in the late 1800s right on through today. Sadly, Weston followed the railroads and so, didn't go through Hope.

Everet was one of five rodeo riding Bowmans. Here he is with brother Skeet. The link is to his story.

Everett Bowman

Hope, Arkansas claims an ex-president, but Hope, NM produced Everett Bowman, All Around Champion Cowboy of the World for the years 1935 and 1937. Everett was born in Hope, NM, in 1899 and died in Wickenburg, AZ in 1971.

Picture of brother Skeet Bowman links to story about the other Bowman brothers.

Everett founded, among other things, the cowboy's Turtle Association, and even appeared in the movie, "The Great White Hope." He's in about every rodeo hall of fame ever concocted. He left Hope in 1913, which means he was shaped by Hope.

Bowman was one, but the most famous of, five Bowman brothers in the rodeo business. They all made their mark, but Everett was the star. He died in a plane crash in Arizona in 1971.

Here's how he was remembered in one of his hall of fame inductions.

Winner of 10 world championships in nine years, Everett Bowman’s dynamic leadership made him one of the great rodeo contributors to the advancement of professional rodeo. Bowman, born July 12, 1899, in Hope, N.M., won his titles during a career that spanned more than 20 years. Bowman won all-around championships in 1935 and 1937; tie-down roping championships in 1929, 1935 and 1937; world steer wrestling championships in 1930, 1933, 1935 and 1938; and the world steer roping champion in 1937. When the cowboys’ Turtle Association was founded in 1936, he was elected president, an office he held until reorganization of the CTA to the Rodeo cowboys Association in 1945. Most of the fundamental changes in rodeo that are now the bedrock of the sport came about under Bowman’s leadership: adding entry fees to prize money, fair and impartial judging, codified rules and regulations, humane treatment of livestock and minimum standards for approval as a professional rodeo. Bowman died in 1971 in a plane crash in Arizona.

If you really need a refresher on World War Z's Battle of Hope, here's a link.
Bloggers and travelers pass through Hope from time to time. Here's one that knows about the battle of Hope from zombie inspired World War Z.

World War Z is a mythical battle fought in the town of Hope sometime in the future. It's a big deal among zombie fans, and you find them in odd places, including driving through Hope.

The Bureau of Land Management BLM has a lot to say about what goes on around Hope these days. It's the old story of city slickers telling country folk how to live, and the country folk telling the city slickers to kick the asphalt off their brains and think for a minute. Here's Hotshot Hendricks reading the current dialog in an old, old play.

The BLM knows best...or not.

“What affects me is about 3,500 acres they say I can keep on using,” he said. “If we get another administration, they’re gonna say I can’t do it. They’re going to call it wilderness."

To which the city slicker replied, “This is part of the field office where we don’t have a lot of mineral activity. But they’re a good community. It’s important for us to come out here and hear their concerns.”

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Hopes of America

Twenty-five states have communities named Hope. We disregard the many other towns called New Hope, Mount Hope, Greater Hope, and so forth. Most of the "just Hopes" are tiny, and often ghost towns. A few are marked as historic locations.

Hope Alaska stays relevant.
Hope Alaska is on the Turnagain Arm.

The most significant American Hope is in Arkansas, population over 10,000, with a former president to its credit. Many of them don't remember why they're called Hope. Of the ones with a naming story, at least two are apocryphal, New Mexico and Alaska, several are named for people, some are assumed to be named as an aspiration for success, and at least two are named for foundrys and mills, with no recollection of the origin of the business names. Several are ghost towns and at least one is haunted.

Hope, Alaska, being a wild-west frontier town, has much of the charm of Hope, New Mexico. The town is located on the Turnagain Arm of Kenai Peninsula. Unlike many Alaskan towns, you can get there by road, the Hope Highway off the Seward Highway. It's never been big, and has about two hundred residents these days. It arose during the 1898 gold rush, and, according to legend, was named for Percy Hope, the youngest member of a group of gold seekers from Seattle. In 1918 the Cordova Daily Times, Cordova, Alaska, says,"Percy Hope, after whom the town of Hope, to the westward, was called, spent the day with Cordova friends. "

Percy Hope shows up in news accounts at that time, in Seattle, Alaska, and Canada. They can't all be the same person. Seattle's Percy became chief deputy assessor. The one in Canada seems to have run a store. And one was a well known native American, with extensive biography as a political activist. None of his biographers credit him as the namesake of Hope.

The Seattle Percy Hope shows up in the city directory. In 1903 he was a clerk. By 1922 he was the deputy county assessor, and later became chief deputy assessor. This Percy Lee Hope was born in Kentucky in 1874, was married to May Cathie, had two children, and died in Seattle, 1931.

A Percy L. Hope shows up in Douglas Alaska in the 1903 paper, expecting to be divorced from Reinia Hope of Sitka in the next term of court in Juneau. Newspapers record a Percy Hope of Dawson, Yukon, as being a Mormon Elder. These could be the same person but seem distinct from Seattle Percy.

In 1902 the Daily Advertiser of Vancouver, BC, reports that Percy Hope of the North American Transportation and Trading Company, with Pacific Coast headquarters in Seattle, brings news of the mining operations in the area.

Hope, Alsaska is small but enjoys a local fame because of its beauty, accessibility, and reputation as a tourist destination.

Its namesake may well be Percy Hope, one of them, if there was more than one.

Hope Furnace in Ohio.
Hope Furnace Historical Marker in Ohio.

Hope, Arizona, is a dot in the desert near California, and its name is reputed to be an aspiration for a business boom.

Hope Arkansas, was named for Hope Loughborough, daughter of a railroad executive in 1873.

Hope, Idaho, founded in 1882, platted in 1896 and incorporated in 1903 was named for Dr. Hope, "a wise and kindly man," the veterinarian who looked after the horses involved in construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The town is famous for the Hope Hotel, which hosted luminaries like Bing Crosby, J. P. Morgan, Gary Cooper, and even Teddy Roosevelt.

Hope, Illinois, in Vermillion County, is famous as the birthplace of Mark Van Doren, and little else, apparently.

Hope, Indiana started out in 1834 as Goshen, but changed to Hope because there was already a Goshen in Indiana. The name seems to have represented the optimistic spirit of its Moravian pioneer settlers.

Hope, Kansas was started in 1871 by a group of 40 peope led by Newell Thurstin who named it for his deceased son, Hope Thurstin (according to popular legend). David Eisenhower lived nearby.

Hope, Kentucky started in 1890 and local legend avers its name came from the first postmaster who had several names rejected by the Postmaster General, finally submitting "Hope" in hopes it would be accepted.

Hope Lousiana was established in 1882 and may have been named for the nearby Good Hope Plantation, a local historical site. How the plantation came by that name is not part of the legend.

Hope Furnace in Rhode Island.

Hope, Maine was settled in 1782 as Barrettstown, after the nearby Barretstown Plantation. It became Hope in 1804, and its origin legend says the name came from the Hope family of England, which was friendly to the colonies. Friendly, in this usage probably means financial assistance of some sort, perhaps trade.

Hope, Maryland may not exist, or maybe its someplace along Hope Road. More research is needed.

Hope, Michigan was incorporated in 1850, as a splinter from Barry Township.

Hope, Minnesota has been a post office since 1916.

Hope, Mississippi is in Neshoba County. Someone may know more about it than that. Perhaps they'll write.

Hope, Missouri was a community post office set up in 1897, closing in 1974. It may have been named as an aspiration for hopefulness.

Hope, New Jersey, was surveyed in 1774, accepted as a community by the Moravian Church, and renamed from Greenland to Hope by drawing lots in 1775. The name allegedly reflects the Moravians' "hope for immortality."

Hope, New York appeared after the electors of the southern district of the Town of Wells voted to separate into a new "Town of Hope," in 1818. We don't know what they hoped for.

Hope Maine Historical Society.

Hope, North Dakota was founded in 1881, and named for the wife of E. H. Steel, President of the Red River Land Company.

Hope, Ohio was originally the location of an iron blast furnace called Hope Furnace. We don't know how the furnace was named, but in 1865 it gave its name to a post office, which operated until 1890. Hope remains an unincorporated ghost community in Vinton County, with mostly abandoned buildings, a few residents, and a ghost. The night watchman accidently fell into Hope Furnace over a hundred years ago, and remains as the official haunt. His well-sizzled shade is still seen in Lake Hope State Park.

Hope, Oklahoma is an unincorporated place in Stephens County.

Hope, Rhode Island, like its Ohio sister city, was named for an iron smelting operation called Hope Furnace. The mill produced cannon for the revolutionary war, and by 1806 had given its name to Hope Cotton Factory. It's been known as Hope Village since 1844. By the way, "Hope," is the motto of Rhode Island. Someone ought to look up why.

Hope, Texas in Lavaca County was named for a trading post sometime before the Texas revolution. We don't know what the trading post was hoping for.

Hope, Washington in Pierce County is a real place, but is most prominently featured these days as the fictitious setting for some of the Rambo stories.

Hope Wisconsin is an unincorporated community in Blooming Grove, Dane County.

If America's Hopes were hoping for long-term prosperity, most hoped in vain. If they were hoping to be remembered, they've succeeded.

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In 1949 the Army took a long, wide swath of the Tularosa Basin north of El Paso for the White Sands Missile Range. They needed a place to park their German assets, men and machines, from Penemunde, and to host weapons testing in a remote, hard-to-observe place. New Mexico's Jornada Del Muerto was inconvenient to get to, flat, and blessed with predictable weather, hot and dry. Some ranchers were displaced, but the ones who weren't found they'd acquired a powerful neighbor. In 1997 the Department of Defense did some reflecting about the educatonal opportunities in those early days.

The publication "School Days" was issued in 1997, including interviews with some of the old timers. Several were from Hope, New Mexico, and we've excerpted their stories below. You can read the entire publication nearby.

Elma Louis Hardin Cain interviewed for the WSMR "School Days" publication. Click to read.

Elma Hardin Cain

Elma Lois Hardin was born in Hope, New Mexico, on May 17, 1925. Her parents, Charles W. and Lois Watts Hardin, lived in the Sacramento Mountains. Elma attended school in Hope and Artesia until 1934, when the family moved to the San Andres Mountains. At that point, herparents opted to send her to Loretto Academy in Las Cruces. She graduated from Loretto in 1942. Elma's vivid recollections of life at Loretto Academy provide a strong contrast to experiences related by those who attended the one-room schools out in the ranch communities.

In 1943, after attending Loretto Heights Academy in Denver for a year, Elma married Leonard Cain. They settled on the family ranch, the Buckhom, in the San Andres, where they began their family and raised cattle until 1949, when they moved their ranching operation northeast, to a spot near Amistad.

J. D. Miller

J. D. Miller was born in Hope, New Mexico, on July 26, 1916, to Lealon 0. and Agnes Hardin Miller. He attended school in Hope through the fifth grade, while his father ranched and hauled freight. When J. D. was 10 years old, the family moved to a ranch in Arizona. The rancher's wife was a school teacher and taught J. D. at the ranch until his mother moved into town so he and his sister could attend school. For one year, J. D. and his sister stayed in Deming, New Mexico, with relatives; then they returned to Arizona, where J. D. graduated from eighth grade.

In 1933, when J. D. was 17, his family relocated to the San Andres Mountains. In July of 1938, J. D. married Dorothy Wood. He was awarded the contract to drive the bus for the Ritch School from 1938 to 1940, picking up and dropping off children along a 23-mile route that took roughly two hours to traverse.

Louise Crockett

Louise Crockett was born on September 3, 1912, to Dick and Edna Roach Alexander, in Eunice, New Mexico. As a child, she lived in Eunice, Hope, and Pirion. Louise graduated from high school in the then-thriving farming community of Hope. She married Lloyd Crockett in 1932 and they began a sheep ranching operation near Pirion but moved to a ranch in the Rhodes Canyon area in 1938. Louise and the Crockett children moved from the ranch into town during the school year. The kids attended school in Las Cruces for four years and in Hatch for five years. Finally, the family moved to Hatch.

Cora Cox Fribley

Cora Cox was born May 20, 1904, to George W. and Julia Beach Cox, in Hope, New Mexico. The family moved to the San Andres Mountains around 1916.

There was no school near the Cox Ranch, so the family also purchased a house in Tularosa in order to have a place for Cora and her brothers and sisters to live with their mother while they were attending school. Cora remembers being the best seamstress in her Home Economics class and how they had a difficult time with the cooking exercises because there was no food provided by the school.

Interview with Cora Cox Fribley

My dad was George W. Cox, and I'm sure he was born in Liberty Hill, Texas. He was a rancher's son, and I guess they came from Texas looking for places to live. They had a cattle ranch about 30 miles from Hope. My oldest brother and sister were born in Texas. She was just an infant when they came and I wasn't here yet. They got me later.

Well, I guess they had heard about the range, how the grazing was, and it was good that year. My dad went out and thought it was wonderful. So he sold the place, and he and his brother moved to the San Andres. I think it must've been about 1914 or '15. We were out there during World War I.

He bought this place right here in Tularosa after he sold the homestead, so we kids could go to school. It was more than 60 miles; took all day just about. Yeah, get in the wagon and rootie toot, here we come! Well, we finally moved for school and just stayed in town. Those other people didn't move to school. I don't know what they did. We'd be here all winter, the school year. I had gone to school before we came to Tularosa, 'cause they had a little country school. Little young girls would go out there and teach for nothing— $30 a month— and live in the house of some of the people. Yes they did. I'm sure they did, 'cause they had this one-room schoolhouse. I never thought that would be interesting; might be interesting, but wouldn't be very funny.

I was a basketball player for Tularosa about seventh grade and a Girl Scout. There was three girls played basketball. They were short of girls when they got me. The Bookout girls were the star players. We played Capitan and Carrizozo, but we didn't play Alamogordo because they were too high-toned for us. They were citified. We're the country kids. I was 13, I guess. It was probably around 1916 or '17. I remember Mr. Clayton was our referee. One day I played mean and he told me I'd have to sit on the bench if I did it again. I didn't do it anymore. Yeah, he thought I was a little mean. I hit that ol' girl under her chin, I didn't bite her tongue, she did it. In those days they had a running center, and I was runnin center.

Interview with Louise Crockett

I was born in Eunice, New Mexico, in 1912. When I was five, we came to Hope to send us kids to school. It's a pretty nice town then. Many people there; the best fruit orchards and vegetables in the world. We didn't go much of any place, except to school and church; school plays and programs and things like that.

We were married in '32. We went to ranch out on the San Andres Mountains in about '38, I guess. Then I lived in Las Cruces; sent 'em to school four years. I never thought about lockin the door then. And then I lived in Hatch for five years and sent 'em to school. I guess Sonny was eight when we moved to Hatch, about '45; he was born in '37.

Interview with Elma Hardin Cain

I went to school in Hope [New Mexico] a couple years, and I went to school in Artesia a couple years. Then I went to Las Cruces and finished high school at Loretto Academy. I was 9 when I went to Loretto.

I don't remember how big Hope School was. There was probably 20 in my class. I don't remember, but Hope was a pretty good size town at that time. I stayed with my grandfather and grandmother, my daddy's parents, and went to school. When they moved to the San Andres Mountains, we— Mother and I— moved to Artesia. I could have gone to school at Ritch, but the folks didn't want me to. That's when they put me in boarding school at Loretto, from '34 or '35 through '42.

But sometimes you get a better education in a country school than you do in a public school. Even though there's maybe one or two teachers to a big bunch, they get more individual attention than you would in a bigger public school.

They took me down and left me. I stayed, but I didn't like it. I don't remember a lot of conversation, other than I had heard that they were going to take me, and that the nuns—you know, I'd heard that if you weren't nice they'd put you in the basement. I'd heard scare stories and, of course, I cried and cried for two weeks. The nuns wrote Mother and told her that she'd better come down and see about me. Mother came down, she and Daddy, and he told me, "You're gonna stay. You might as well get over it. If you don't quit and settle down, we won't let you come home Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter; we'll just leave you here." Well, it wasn't long 'til I shaped up. When I came home Thanksgiving, I was so lonesome, I was ready to go back. I had adjusted. There was no question whether I would go back to Cruces from year, to year, to year. That was understood.

School started after Labor Day and we got to come home at Thanksgiving. I usually rode the bus to T or C [Truth or Consequences, New Mexico] and the folks would pick me up. Then they'd take me to T or C and I'd ride it back to Cruces. Same way at Christmas, and the same way Easter. It wasn't too awful far, probably an hour and a half or two hours. It was just riding the bus; it wasn't too bad.

We were off at Thanksgiving for two or three days, and Christmas, about a week off at Christmas. Then Easter, usually we'd get off. Get to go home on Thursday and come back on Easter Monday. Then go home at the end of school and go back to school in September.

When I first went to Loretto, there was 72 boarders from the first grade up to high school. A lot of those—well, not a lot, but maybe 10 or 12, maybe more—were out of Old Mexico, and they couldn't speak a word of English. Some of 'em young, some of 'em older. We had two dormitories. We had a little girls' dorm and big girls' dorm; the high school girls and the little kids.

Loretto Academy was at the end of Main Street. The front of the building was big; the middle was the administrative part of the school. To the west were the dormitories upstairs and the classrooms and things downstairs. To the east, the chapel was upstairs and the nuns' quarters were there. On the bottom floor was the cafeteria and the kitchen and different things like that. It was sort of in an L shape, more or less.

They were all nuns, Sisters of Loretto. I never had a lay teacher. The Music teacher, History teacher, English teacher, they were all nuns.

It was very rigid. We got up about six o'clock every morning. You could not talk at all to, you know, visit with the other kids and all—it was in silence. We went to mass; we went to church every morning. You'd get dressed and brush your teeth and wash your face and comb your hair and you'd go to church. From church you would go directly down to the—the refectory is what we called it, not cafeteria— the refectory. And we'd all stand behind our chairs and they'd say grace and ring a little bell and we could sit down. We could visit and talk when we ate breakfast. Whenever everybody was fairly well through, they'd ring the bell and you'd stand up and return thanks, and go in silence up to make your bed. Then you'd come back down at 8 o'clock.

They'd ring a bell and you would go to study hall. You would have study hall and your classes the rest of the morning. Then at noon you'd get in line and you go to the refectory and the same routine. Then you have recreation until 1 o'clock, after you'd had dinner, which wouldn't usually be very long. Then you'd have classes in the afternoon. At about 3 or 3:30, you be out; school would be over and you'd have recreation 'til about 4:30 or 5 o'clock.

We had tennis courts, and you could skate, or you could listen to the radio, if the radio was working, or you could just read, or whatever you could find to do. Then you'd have study hall from 4:30 'til about 5:30, somewhere around there. Then we'd go and eat supper, and at 8 o'clock the little girls had to go up to bed.

When I got to be a freshman, I was a big girl, and then we got to stay up 'til 9. It was the same routine over and over every day, except Saturday. Saturday, if you were lucky, they might let you sleep late if you were a big girl. A little girl, you didn't get to sleep late; you got up and went to church on Saturday. Whenever you got to be a big girl, on Saturday you'd get to sleep late maybe; but Sunday you'd go to church and then they'd have study hall from 11 'til 12 so you could write letters home. And you write your letter and the nuns would correct it and then you'd have to rewrite it. They read all of your mail, coming in and going out.

There weren't any chores to do, other than you had to mend your clothes. Sometimes on Saturday they'd take us up to the wardrobe. If you had a button off or something like that, they'd show you how to sew it on. If they wanted to teach you how to darn, if you didn't have a sock that had a hole in it, Sister Arcela would cut a hole in the sock, so you could darn it. Darning, you put an egg, a darning egg, in the sock and you learn to close that hole up. You went one way all the way, and then you went and wove in and out the other way.

And they taught you manners. If you were a lower classman and an eighth grader came by, you had to open the door for the eighth grader. If you were a sixth grader, you had to show that eighth grader respect.

It was always the same, always the same discipline. It never changed.The bigger girls had a little more leniency, but not a lot. As far as talking and keeping silent, going to eat, and things like that, they were all the same. They just wanted you to go in silence. That was teaching you that you had to be quiet.

And then when I got older, I worked for part of my tuition. I waited tables in the refectory and I cleaned the music rooms whenever I could. There was some that had chores like that. The biggest end of the girls didn't have any; they didn't have to work, but I did. I've often wondered what tuition might have been, but I don't know. I do know that Daddy, several times, brought a beef down—killed a beef and brought it down for part of my tuition.

It was a Catholic school, and naturally they taught Catholicism—you know, religion. Everybody took it. It was very strict. But if you failed a test, they would have you study and they'd give it to you again. They'd give you an opportunity to pass. We had one teacher that would give you the question and the answer. Say, she'd give you 50 questions and answers, and she'd pick maybe 10 or 15 out of that. Alright, she wanted it word for word, and dot for dot. You had to have not only the question answered correctly; she wanted your penmanship and your spelling and your punctuation— everything— right. Everything she marked off, because she gave you the whole thing, and you were to learn it. She was very meticulous in that, and you learned pretty quick that she wasn't going to put up with sloppiness and not doing what she wanted.

We had a priest that lived there. I think he was just the father that held the church services. We had mass every morning at the school at the same time, early every morning. We had a sister — called her Mother Superior— I'm sure that she was the one that took care of the business, 'cause she didn't teach.

I don't remember any of the nuns leaving. As you got older, you got different teachers, but they had been there for years. The one nun that I remember, that stayed in the little girls' dormitory, she was there forever. The dormitories, they were all in one room, one big room. They were all, in the little girls' dorm, all different ages. In the big girls dorm, you see, were the high-school kids, freshmen up to seniors. I don't remember how many beds were in there. The nun's bed had curtains around it. Usually there were two nuns that slept in the little girls' dorm. I'd say there were maybe 40 beds in there. I don't really know, but they were just rows and rows with just a little space in between.

In the little girls' dorm we had a washstand, and we kept our toothbrushes and hair brushes and things like that in there. Each one had their own washstand. When you got to be in the big girls' dorm, you had a washstand, but then you had an alcove. They had a room where there was a little alcove-type thing that had three walls and a curtain in front. You had a little chest of drawers in there and you kept your little personal things in there. You could hang some of your clothes in there, but the little girls' things were all up in the wardrobe room. You wore a uniform, a navy-blue uniform with a big, white collar. I have my white collar from whenever I got out of school. I had it autographed and I kept it. But I didn't keep a uniform; I didn't want a uniform. But you know, you get used to it. It's just, sort of like the Army, I imagine.

Mother used to send me a birthday cake, and it would be packed in popcorn; an angel food cake with seven-minute icing, and she'd pack it in popcorn. When that package would come, well, we kids would sneak and get on what we called the devil steps— they were steps saved for visitors. They were hardwood steps. We'd get there and eat our cake and popcorn. We'd crawl out of the dorm; we got in trouble several times. We'd have to clean those steps—wax them and polish them and clean them up. Then lots of times we had to write "I will not do" whatever it was "again" maybe 500 times.

They did have one girl, she called the sisters "You old devil. El Diablo, El Diablo." They washed her mouth out with soap several times, but ..

There wasn't a lot of ruckus, 'cause someone was there watching all the time. We were chaperoned even when we went to town. There'd be two or three nuns that would go with us to town. We were just, well, at the end of the street. It might have been six or eight blocks.

The meals were very well prepared. The only thing, I thought we got too much parsnips; I never did like parsnips. But we'd have cream of wheat for breakfast of a morning, and if we didn't eat it all, they'd fry it at night and serve it with syrup for our evening meal. I liked the cream of wheat of a morning, but I didn't like that of an evening. We'd have prunes for breakfast, and I didn't mind those. If there were prunes left, we'd have prune whip at night for dessert, and that was good. I didn't mind that too much. Those are about the only things that stick in my mind. The meals weren't bad. They had people in the kitchen that weren't nuns, and I'm sure they were bound to come from town, but I don't remember who they were.

Mother and Dad, they could come and see us. They would come and take us out in town and things like that, but we couldn't go out in town just as a group. When I got to be older, there was one girl that was in school, and I got to go home with her over a weekend.

You got a good education, as far as learning. We took Music. You had Spanish and Latin and Math, different kinds of Math, and Shorthand and History and English, and they had the Business classes then, too — Bookkeeping, Shorthand, Typing.

Its all right, but I would never send my kids. I don't think so. No, uh-uh, because I think you miss so much with your parents and with other things, other activities and things. I never saw Leonard play football. I never saw a football game, a high-school football game, or a basketball game, other than what we played there in the convent. You miss things like that.

When I first went, there were 72 students, as I remember. When I graduated, there were 42. They decreased and decreased. But now, that was boarders. They did have some Catholics that came in as day students, you know. I don't remember how many there were. A lot of them didn't come from Old Mexico anymore. Maybe it got too expensive for them to come there; I don't know. I know when I graduated, there was 3 that lived there in 'Cruces, and there was 10 of us that graduated, so there was 7 of us that were boarders, the summer, May of '42, I graduated.

When I graduated from high school, that fall, my grandmother and mother took me to Denver to school. The college in Denver was also a girls' school associated with the Sisters of Loretto. I got a scholarship to go to Loretto Heights, and I was Valedictorian of my class. Now we weren't restricted to go to bed at a certain time and we could go to Denver and, you know, out. A group of us would go out. The only requirement when we left the Loretto Heights Academy, we were supposed to have a dress on and gloves and a hat and high-heel shoes and hose; we were supposed to be representatives of the school and act accordingly. Of course, lots of times, by the time we got to Denver in the taxi, we had shed a lot of hats and gloves and various things! I stayed up there and I came home at Christmastime, and I rode the train back with Leonard, back to Denver. We got married the following summer.

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The Argus (Carlsbad) from August 2, 1890, announces a Post Office coming to Badgerville.
A list of Postmasters at Hope, New Mexico through the 2000 appointment.
Early indications of water abundance and disputes at Hope. The Post Office had already been named "Hope", but the locals were still called Badgerites by the Pecos Valley Argus (Carlsbad). Clippings from 1891 (top) and 1893.
Another indication of water troubles, this time from a Hope resident in 1891, who uses the Hope moniker, and eschews Badgerville.
More use of the Badger name after the Hope post office was chartered, the first from 1892, the second from 1895.
From the Carlsbad Argus, May 3, 1901, we see both names still being used.
By March 18, 1910, the name "Hope" had completely overtaken the Badger heritage in the Carlsbad Argus.
By August 22, 1949, Badgerville was remembered but the Joe Richards' Hope was not.

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The Argus (Carlsbad) from April 18, 1902, reports the acquiital of Elder Miller et al on murder charges.
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The Albuquerque Tribune reviewed T. M. Pearce's book, "New Mexico Place Names-A Geographical Dictionary," in 1965. Click for a bio of Pearce.
A vintage JPL graphic celebrating the Explorer 1 satellite.

The space race did not begin in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik, but in 1954 when both America and the USSR announced satellite launches as part of the International Geophysical Year (IGY) activities. This region of the collage is generally identified by that term, although each illustrated object is probably a specific, as yet unidentified, event.

The IGY was a major force in scientific activity in the late 1950s, and does not seem to be separately celebrated by the collage.