Skiing in New Mexico

Grazing Deer in New Mexico December 2010

In Spanish Cimarron means wild or unruly and this town in northeastern New Mexico that I’ve just returned from certainly lives up to its name. The legendary St. James Hotel here was purchased by Oklahoma businessman Robert Funk a few years back and has been updated while keeping the historical quality of the building intact. Since the hotel opened its doors in 1872 it has seen its share of celebrities and shady characters including Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Jesse James, Bob Ford and Davy Crockett II. It may be the only hotel in the world that gives guests a list of people who have been shot on the premises.

In addition to these personalities several writers have stayed at the St. James. Former Governor Wallace wrote part of his novel Ben Hur at the hotel and Zane Grey stayed in Room 22 while he was working on “Fighting Caravans”.

Today much of the period furniture still remains and many people believe that the spirits of past guests roam the hallways. Sightings of unknown women and children are common and many have been photographed by both professionals and hotel guests.  Many stories also surround rearranged silverware on the tables and the strange smell of rose petals, adding to the paranormal sightings in the hotel. Bob Funk and the staff at this colorful stopping place aren’t sure who might be haunting the hotel but they respect the rights of the ghosts to live on at the St. James. With excellent food, reasonable accommodations and unbeatable scenery this is a place you don’t want to miss on next trip to this part of New Mexico.

Just 24 miles up the road is Angel Fire, New Mexico. I knew the ride up to 10,677 feet would be breath taking and I was right. With skiing and snow boarding in the winter and golf, hiking and biking in the summer this is a great family destination at any time.

Right now you can’t beat the state’s only night time skiing under starry mountain skies. Even though I’ve passed through this part of the country many times over the past few ears it always grabs me.

Arriving on the first day of winter, just four days after the official opening of the ski area, has become something of a tradition for my daughter and me during the last few years and I’ll tell you why.  From opening day to Christmas you will find very few lift lines and may even find yourself coming down a slope alone.  Discounts on lift tickets and ski rentals are plentiful during this period and lodging is also less expensive. As soon as Christmas comes, the slopes are packed and it is a totally different story. But regardless of when you’re there the folks at Angel Fire keep things running smoothly and you’re guaranteed to have a great time. Although they haven’t had as much snow as usual up there they’ve been making snow and had plenty of trails open, making this another year to remember. Check out their website at

This year I wanted to stay in the nearby village of Eagle Nest with its picture perfect lake. I had heard that a former Oklahoma School Superintendant had purchased the Gold Pan Motel there and I was curious to see what he was doing with the place. The Gold Pan is a throw back to a by-gone era in travel like someplace you might find along Route 66 and I love checking these places out. To my delight the motel was just as I had hoped, clean and comfortable with reasonable rates and a friendly staff. I’m sure it will be around for many more years to come.

Chub Anderson and Sheriff Wayman, 2009, Part 8

In this portion of his meeting with George Wayman, Chub gives a glimpse into his personal thoughts about the murder. Both he and George agree that there had not been any Mafia involvement in the crime, something Chub and I had also discussed before.

Wayman also mentions detective Gary Glanz, a hard nosed cop turned private investigator who was hired by Linda  Mullendore the day after the murder and who has been involved with the case in one way or another ever since. The Wall Street Journal once called Glanz “super sleuth” and referred to him as one of the best private investigators in the southwest.

Chub had told Glanz in an earlier interview that he had disposed of the murder weapon on his way into Dewey and Glanz had tried to get him to pinpoint an exact spot where it might be found. Chub laughingly mentions the money that Glanz left him after each of his visits to the apartment in Caney. The gun mentioned in this clip is a World War II era Victor 38 pistol.

For his part, Glanz has publicly stated that for $100,000 he could immediately solve this murder case. It makes you wonder who was playing who in this forty year relationship that started on September 27, 1970.

Next week is the last clip and is also the last time that these two would talk as Chub has since died. The old Sheriff asks him again to tell him who killed E.C. and a deal is struck involving me, solving the 40 year old mystery.

For the most recent media coverage of this case check out  Ann Kelley’s story on the front page of  today’s Oklahoman (12/26/2010).

Chub Anderson and Sheriff Wayman, 2009, Part 7

If you are a first visitor to this site you may want to go back to Part One of these video clips and watch them in sequence to put everything in perspective.

This week the conversation between Chub and the Sheriff touches on Chub’s life in Montana and the time he spent working on Snow Crest Ranch which belongs to broadcasting mogul Ted Turner.
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Chub Anderson and Sheriff Wayman, 2009, Part 6

In this clip Chub and the Sheriff talk about the night of the murder in detail- especially Chub’s relationship with E.C. and the two of them outrunning Deputy Bill Mitchell in Chub’s souped up red Chevelle. The car was a gift from the Mullendore family who were known for treating their staff well and inspiring a loyalty which kept many people working at the ranch for years.

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The Life and Times of Sheriff Wayman, Part 4

Welcome back to Part Four of my interview with legendary lawman George Wayman and his stories from Osage County. Jonathan Kwitny, the author of The Mullendore Murder, had just joined The Wall Street Journal when he and Sheriff Wayman first met. Kwitny was a front page reporter and Wayman was Sheriff of the largest county in Oklahoma.

The Dixie Mafia murders along with regular killings on the Osage Reservation and then the murder of the heir to a true ranching empire must have made New York look tame to the visiting reporter. Kwitney was the son of a doctor who received his B.A. in Journalism in 1962 from the University of Missouri. After completing a Master’s Degree he began his career as a reporter, building a reputation as an investigator into organized crime.

Well you might ask where I am going with all this Kwitny stuff so here’s the story. Other than Sheriff Wayman and a couple of other lawman I have not found anyone else who was personally interviewed by Mr. Kwitney while he was writing his book about E.C. Mullendore’s murder. Not Dale Kurtz- who was the first on the scene or any of the other cowboys on the Cross Bell Ranch at the time. None of the bankers or local businessmen who did business with E.C. Not the ranch staff or the ambulance driver who took the young rancher to the hospital that night. None of E.C.’s friends or family or Chub Anderson. With so little true investigation you tell me how he could have written an accurate report of what happened or was this just a guy from New York filling in the blanks of an Oklahoma tragedy to create a sensational book?

This week’s article will be short so that there will be space for these rarely seen photos of the sliding glass doors that Chub Anderson shot through the night that E.C. was murdered. Look closely all you armchair detectives and till next week I’ll see ya down the road…

Red River Part 2.

Welcome back. I’m sorry to say that the mystery of the mutilated calves in the mountains between San Luis and Fort Garland, Colorado will have to wait one more week. Fresh calf killings, numerous police reports and local interviews along with our own personal experience have given me a wealth of material to review as I piece this strange story together.

Eagle Nest was at its best New Year’s Day as 80 folks took part in the 2nd annual “Polar Bear Plunge” at Eagle Nest Lake, some jumping in two or three times each. We arrived early and found a large backhoe on the frozen lake where the local firemen had cut a 16’x 16’ hole, dragging out two foot thick chunks of ice. According to town officials the water temperature was 32 degrees and as it turned out with air temperatures at around 15 degrees it was warmer in the water than out.

As for the jumpers, I am glad to report that the ambulance crews told me that everyone was fine after the plunge and that even among the over the four hundred spectators there were no serious flips or falls on the ice. Event organizer Bruce Manakas announced that the Polar Bear Plunge committee is already talking about number 3 and anyone who is interested in participating can call him at Golden Eagle R.V. Park for details. His number is (575) 377-6188.

The block and a half that makes up downtown Eagle Nest lies in between Angel Fire and Red River so if you’re skiing in both places it’s the perfect place to stay. The town offers plenty of different dining options from fancy restaurants to one of the better burger places where I’ve ever eaten. There are several motels of course as well as RV parks that are open all year round. The views of the mountains and the many recreational opportunities in the area attract visitors in all seasons.

You’ll hear more on Eagle Nest down the road, it’s a special place in a special part of the country that I hope you have enjoyed visiting with Loretta and me over the last two weeks.

Another story about this area comes from Cimarron and the newly remodeled St. James Hotel which I’ve mentioned before. A new owner has renamed the hotel “Express” St. James Hotel as it is now part of Robert Funk’s Express Company holdings which many of you cowboys may recognize as the Express Ranches who sponsor World Champion bronc rider Billy Etbauer and many other professional cowboys. The company also owns Express Personnel as well as many oil and cattle interests and Mr. Funk’s investment in preserving the history of this old hotel needs to be applauded. Look to hear more about Mr. Funk and his accomplishments as this is a story I hope to tell. In addition to the many famous outlaws and showmen who stayed at the St. James, authors Zane Gray and Lew Wallace were also regular guests. Wallace wrote part of his novel Ben Hur at the hotel. Over two dozen men were killed in fights at the St. James and the staff swears that they have seen ghostly figures walking the halls at night.

Could this be related to next week’s story about the calf mutilations in some way? The mutilations have been taking place just 60 miles north of Cimarron, less than an hour by car and even closer by air or other mysterious transport…

When we were in the Red River area I also discovered that the Community Center was built just after the gold rush when wild bars lined the streets of the town and life was cheap. Through her dedication to God and Country, Ruth “Hall” Yeager and many of her friends built a retreat which still provides a secure and fun place for community activities. It’s another piece of history from the old Wild West that I wish I had more space to tell you about.

Next week its no children please as I start a mystery story that’s not for the young. Till then I’ll see ya down the road…

Red River, New Mexico

Welcome back and Happy New Year to all from the Enchanted Circle scenic byway in northern New Mexico. This magical place has so many stories to tell that with limited space I’d better get started.

Founded in 1895 with a base altitude of 8,750’, climbing to 10,350’, Red River lies on the mountain floor of one of the finest ski areas in America. It takes 4 double chair lifts, 2 triples and one surface tow to bring the thousands of skiers who come here every year to the top. The 57 trails are made up of 30% expert trails, 38% intermediate and 32% beginner. With a snow making capacity that covers 87% of the runs, you’re guaranteed to have snow here just in case they ever miss the 218 inches of the fluffy stuff that nature usually provides annually.

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The Life and Times of Sheriff Wayman, Part 3

Welcome back to more stories from the distinguished career of Osage County Sheriff George Wayman.

The disappearance of Cindy Kinney has lain heavy on his mind for over twenty five years and he frequently goes over the details of the case in his thoughts. Cindy was a good student with a clean reputation and a loving family. At the time of her disappearance her uncle was an officer with the Pawhuska Police Force and he was the first on the scene. When the Sheriff was called to the Laundromat that Cindy’s parents owned on Pawhuska’s Main Street he found few clues; just a half eaten sandwich and her purse. There was a new bank under construction across the street from the Laundromat but interviews and background checks of the workers there turned up nothing. Following the few slim leads and posting rewards proved futile. When the parents called in a psychic, Wayman would criss cross the country in vain pursuing her hunches.

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Angel Fire and Red River New Mexico

Welcome back.  This week we’re on the road to Angel Fire and Red River, New Mexico. It’s not cheap to live here and if you need to go to a Wal-Mart or Food Pyramid on a regular basis the closest big store is forty-five minutes away in Taos. You may ask what does make people want to live here where winter is welcome? Well here is my take on this gorgeous place.

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