Entering The Land of Enchantment in Las Vegas

October 30-November 2, 2021

Las Vegas, New Mexico, was the next stop on our journey southward. Las Vegas, established in 1835, was a significant stop on the Santa Fe Trail (Santa Fe itself is about 65 miles away).

We stayed at the KOA Kampground a few miles south of Las Vegas. We’d camped there a few years ago when we had our small travel trailer and enjoyed it enough then; it was an enjoyable place once again, not the least because of a very tasty breakfast made by the campground hosts on Sunday morning (which happened to be Halloween). Later that very same day, Nancy and Gunther and Ken drove into Las Vegas proper for a bit of a self-guided tour. A Carnegie Library, built in either 1903 or 1904 (sources differ, but quietly so), occupies the center of a very pleasant grassy and tree-filled block in the middle of the city.

Carnegie Libraries were funded by the 19th century philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who donated $40 million to build nearly 1,700 libraries between 1886 and 1917. Aspects of the library in Las Vegas, NM, recall Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello.

Many of the trees surrounding the library are identified by species with signage, but we visited too late in the year to see most of the trees leafed out. Still, it was a very pleasant day and we decided to walk around the block to see some of the historic houses near the library.

Don’t be fooled by the satellite dish and late-model Subaru Outback: this house at 512 Columbia St., just north of the library, in Las Vegas was built in 1882. According to a sign near the library, this is an example of a Picturesque Italianate Cottage. I’m inclined to agree.
Perhaps it was because it was Oct. 31, but this magnificent house at 524 Columbia St., a few doors down from the Picturesque Italianate Cottage, looked especially creepy. It was built in 1881 by Charles W. Wiley, a railroad grading contractor who went on to become the mayor of East Las Vegas (as opposed to West Las Vegas, which was a separate municipality at the time). Wiley is also credited with bringing electric street lighting to the town.
The building is now a bed and breakfast. It looks like a lot of work to maintain, but it’s really beautiful anyway.
Many of the houses near the library had large, or even wraparound, porches. This house at 519 Washington St. has a very appealing front porch along with some other very interesting architectural features (in addition to a glorious specimen of rabbitbrush). It was built in 1898 and is 3,200 square feet.

There are a lot of really interesting historic homes in this neighborhood.

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