Thursday, July 18, 2019

Raton Museum (one of the best)

Location: Raton Pass Camp & Cafe; near Raton, New Mexico (elev. 7,850 feet)

all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon 929 cell phone
click pictures to enlarge

Thru Stop # 4
Raton Pass
I visited the Raton Museum today and was blown away by the knowledge of the curator. It is a smallish museum and I showed up about 30 minutes after it opened. Lucky me, I was the only one there. The curator asked me if I wanted to walk around by myself or would I prefer him to show me around. Obviously, I opted for the tour and was not disappointed. I was there for a couple of hours and learned about this area from thousands of years ago until recent times. There is no way I can put everything I learned in this blog post and I realized I only took one picture while there. Most museums frown on taking pictures but it was not problem here, I just forgot to take them because the curator and I were talking about the exhibits. It was great. As usual, he introduced himself, but I don't remember his name. 

A nice town name and flag. It is also the location where the town's name was derived. 
One of the interesting stories was how Raton got it it's name. First it is pronounced, RAT-on. Apparently, a group of Spaniards were exploring the area in the early 1800's or thereabouts and camped for the night in the location where the American flag is flying on that outcropping. After dark, the camp was overrun by field mice. There were so many, the only way to keep them at bay was to build a circle of fire and sleep in the middle. In their official report, they called the location, "the place of mice". In Spanish, the word for "mice" is "raton", so the name stuck and the city that eventually grew up around here was called Raton. I didn't check to see if the high school mascot was Mice, I hope not.  

I also learned about how one group of people can co-opt another's sign/symbol and by doing so make it unusable because of the stigma attached to it. I had heard parts of this story in the past, but enjoyed hearing the curator tell it. Several American Indian tribes in this area used the swastika as a symbol of good luck and future prosperity. It was used by the Indians for several hundred years. One of the unknowns is how they discovered the symbol since it seems to have originated in India and Pakistan centuries ago. How did the symbol arrive in the U.S. to be adopted by some of the tribes of the American Southwest. It's one of those things that make you go,,,,hmmmmm. The American Indians had to quit using the symbol after Hitler adopted it for his evil ways. One thing to notice though is Hitler reversed the symbol, as though it is a mirror image of the ones used by the tribes. Whether that was intentional or accidental, who knows. The tribes and others who had used the symbol for centuries had to quit using it in the 1930's in fear of being labeled Nazi's. We have seen something similar to this in recent decades when some bad groups of people started using the stars and bars of the rebel flag. Many southerners have quit flying it in fear of being thrown in with those evil groups that are mis-using it. 

The one picture I took from inside the museum. I took this to remember the info and see the reverse image. 

This is an old bank building just a block away from the museum. The curator told me to go see it and look at the top row of decorations. It was built before the 1930's or the symbols could never have been placed up there. 
After I left the museum, I drove into a residential area nearer the mountain. An elk was walking through the front yards of the houses. I stopped and watch it for a while. It got a drink in a fountain at one house and grazed in the yard of a house who hadn't mowed in a while. It was nice and weird at the same time.

A friendly/wild Elk.
As I said in the last post, tomorrow is moving day and I'll be moving about 100 miles north. Immediately after leaving the campground, I will enter Colorado and begin the downhill portion of the Raton Pass. Going down these passes with Liberty in tow is harder and more dangerous than climbing them. It will be good practice for when I cross Monarch Pass (11,000 feet) on Sunday. Not to worry, I've crossed many high passes with Liberty and am still around to tell the tale. :) 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.


  1. Glad you enjoyed your visit to the museum! Nice to be able to take advantage of someone else's knowledge for sure! Looks like a nice little town. Love Monarch Pass! Enjoy and travel safely.

  2. I think that is a mule deer, but I could be wrong. I hope it is much cooler up there.