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NY's Day hike part 2 (historic Fort Bayard)

Friday, January 04, 2013

I didn't get a chance to do this yesterday, so I'm doing it first thing this morning before things come up. In my blog about my New Year's day hike I left off when I got to the back of the old hospital. So that's where I'm going to pick up with.

The hosptal is a very large building, and I couldn't get the south end of it all into one picture. It has several wings instead of being a square building or something like that. The post office was located in one little area in the south end, but not sure if it's still there or moved or closed. I hadn't thought about it. Since the only people actually living in the area now are the residents in the new hospital, which is a nursing home, they may just have resident's mail delivered to a mail room there. Just about 3 or so miles away is a post office in the little town of Santa Clara, or another mile beyond that in the town of Bayard. When people lived in the area in the houses it was probably useful but now not really needed. The actual front entrance to the building is on the west side, which I'll show late as I work my way around, and the back entrance on the east side.

Now I've reached the end of the south side, and here is a view of the west side (back entrance) of the hospital. As I walk north up this way I am also coming to the historic Fort Bayard theater on the right side.

This sign is probably hard to read when shrunk down to fit in the blog, but it shows, in the upper left, the original theater and says that it was built in 1904. Later a remodeled theater was built and the bottom right picture shows the inside of the new theater, that had two large fireplaces and could also have the chairs removed and be suitable for dancing in.

The theater is still used once in a while for special events, but not for movies anymore. When the tour of the Gila Bike race is in town (a 5 day event) there is one race that ends at this spot after circling through the mountains, and a fundraiser spaghetti dinner is usually offered here. The Memorial Day 5k and 8 mile Wilderness Run also starts and finishes here, and the building is open for access to rest rooms. I think it's used sometimes for other things but not sure what.

Outside the theater is a short street that turns left off the street the theater is on. It goes past the north side of the hospital on one side, and a large open field that used to be the parade growns on the other side. Tennis courts were added there much later. There are a lot of interpretive signs all around the edge of this area. The north end had a nice little gazebo built right outside the hospital too, and sometimes the residents had special events out there. This whole area often has deer grazing on it also. All around the houses, the hospital and the entire grounds here. It's not unusual to see a few deer out there in the day or the evening. None today though. However I was surprised to see about 5 or 6 other individuals or groups wandering around and reading the signs. One man in a van stopped, who was from out of town, and asked me a few questions about the area. Sometimes we take what's right under our nose and we've seen so very often that we don't realize how other people view it.

I tried to get a good photo of most of that side of the building, but the sun intererred.

The pics I tried to take of the signs around didn't turn out well because I kept cutting off some of the writing. Here's a few of them.

An old aerial photo from 1923 of what it looked like then..

The 3 time periods use for military

there is a lot more but the pictures aren't very good. In my previous blog a couple of days ago about the first part of my hike I have a couple of links to web pages with more info if you are interested.

This is a memorial that was built to honor the Buffalo soldiers, who were the black soldiers in the military at that time. Some say they were called that because of their tight curly hair that resembled buffalo hide. Anyway, they were differentiated from the "white" soldiers and often not recognized for their part until recent years.

Across the street from the parades ground on the west side are more large houses, some larger than the previous ones. There is a hill that goes up te street and there more small houses on a street behind these. Then behind those smaller houses is the newer Veteran's cemetary.

The back of the big houses

The old water tank and water management facilities

Turn and go down the hill past the cemetery that was built in the early 1900's or late 1800's.

As I follow the little road on down the hill I take a picture of the front entrance to the old hospital.

Not sure what this old building was across from the hospital.

Then I head back down the main road. I don't know if the stop sign shows up, but that is where I came into this area after going by the old cemetary. I continue on down though instead of turning toward the entrance to the grounds and the new hospital. It's a little less than 1/2 mile from the old hospital.

At the entrance posts, I zoom in on the park further down the road toward the main highway. I don't walk down there though. It has an old helicopter and is named the Bataan park, in memorial of the Bataan Death March survivors. A big portion of the troops in the Battaan march were from New Mexico, and quite a few from our Grant County area. Last week, the last survivor from this county passed away and was buried at the new cemetery.

From this point I cut across and go back by the old cemetery I came in past, and go back the way I came to my car parked a couple of miles away at the Arenas Valley trailhead to the Fort Bayard Game preserve trails. It was a very enjoyable hike/walk and a total of almost 7 miles round trip.

Hope you enjoyed a little history. Have a great day!
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