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…