ooN e w M e x i c o I n f o r m a t i o n and P l a c e s o f I n t e r e s t
New Mexico Places of Interest
Places to Visit in New Mexico
Sugarite, New Mexico, a coal camp from 1910 until 1941. The panoramic picture was taken in 1933 and shows a majority of the structures
except for some houses in the lower left. The camp was located about six miles from Raton, near the New Mexico-Colorado border. The upper
part of the structure in the lower middle is a car garage. Probably, few of the families owned autos during those depression years and during
the winter months there was probably a fair amount of snow to contend with. The camp elevation is about 7,000 feet. At the upper left are the
sandstone slag piles from mine #2. The camp in now a state park.
The picture above is an extraction from upper picture and shows the two-story schoolhouse. The
fourth house from the school in the row of seven houses is house #9. When Felipe Martinez was
killed in late 1929 house #9 was his address on his death certificate. It is very likely that it is the same
house where Rebecca, her older sister, Lupe, and younger sister Felipa were born. The camp doctor
lived nearby and Felipe and wife, Flora, were producing children during the late 1920s. The Martinez
family lived in Sugarite for about five years.
The sandstone rock foundation for house No. 9 is in fairly good condition
after more than 70 years since the house was removed. If only the rocks
could talk. It would have heard the first cries of Lupe, Rebecca and Felipa
and the laughter of older sisters Alicia and Mary at play. And in September
1929 it would hear the anguished cries of Flora when she heard that her
husband, Felipe, was killed in a mine accident.
It's an early picture of mine No. 2 entrance.
Sugarite mine No. 2 as it appears today. There were three mines at Sugarite and #2
was the big producer of coal for about 30 years. There were several fatalities in the
mine over the years and Felipe was killed by a moving coal car in September 1929.
He left a wife and four small children and another child was born two months later.
Felipe is buried at Fairmont Cemetery in Raton, N.M. His monument reads: FELIPE
MARTINEZ 1887 --- 1929 At Rest
Miners beginning a shift at Sugarite. Note youth in
light clothing, he appears to be quite young.
Coal---The sign reads: Sugarite Fancy Lump One of
the Best Swastika Coals High in Heat Low in Ash.
The structure is called a tipple. Located at the bottom of the canyon small
cars full of coal would roll down the hillside controlled with a cable and brake
and empty cars would travel up the hill onto a landing and then into the
mines. The coal would be cleaned and dropped into the railroad cars. The
train would use a railroad spur to Raton and then on the main track to market.
A railroad car loaded with Sugarite coal ready to be
hauled to a market, perhaps to power train locomotives or
for household use. Note the swastika. It was the emblem
for St. Louis Rocky Mountain & Pacific. Then when Nazi
Germany copied the emblem and it became vile the coal
company ceased using the logo
The schoolhouse at Sugarite it where Rebecca's sisters Alicia and Mary
attended school at one time.
The beautiful canyon became a state park in 1985. It is owned by
the city of Raton but leased to the state of New Mexico.
Alice and husband, Manuel
Mary with husband, Roy, and
Lupe with daughters, Patricia
Youngest sister, Faye
Dawson, N.M., 55 miles southwest of Raton, was a coal town from the beginning of the 20th century until the mines closed in 1950. Over the
years there were 10 mines in operation with a peak population of 9,000 residents. Dawson was a modern town for the times with a large
mercantile store, hospital, Catholic church, schools, swimming pool, golf course and other amenities to help the workers and families have a
nice lifestyle. Felipe Martinez worked at Dawson during the early 1920s and daughter Mary was born there. There was a mine explosion in 1923,
killing 123 miners, and Felipe, worried, moved to Koehler to work, where a son, Felipe Jr., was born and the Martinez family later returned to
Dawson. The infant, Felipe, passed away in late 1924 and is buried in the Dawson cemetery. Then, by early 1925, the family moved to Sugarite.
This picture is the courtesy of Jess Palomino. I miss my friends Jess and his wife, Nan.
This Page is on-going---stay tuned.
Raton, N.M. is located at the southern base of Raton Pass which was
part of the mountain route of the Santa Fe Trail from Franklin, MIssouri
to Santa Fe, N.M. The elevation of Raton, although it varies several
hundred feet, advertises 6,666 feet elevation. The name Raton would
come from the Spanish word meaning field mice, which early Spanish
explorers encountered, when they camped in the area.
Flora's home on Boundary Street in Raton. Flora purchased the home
after husband, Felipe, died. In fact, the purchase was finalized on the
day that Flora gave birth to her daughter, Felipa. This was her address
in the 1930 census living with her five daughters. She was head of the
household and was listed as a laundress, no doubt trying to make a
living, somehow. It was during the Great Depression. Tough times.
This is a front and side view of the former orphanage St. Vincent's
Orphanage for Girls in Santa Fe, N.M. The orphanage began in 1865 when
Father Etunne Avel donated funds for the orphanage and it was managed
by Sisters of Charity until 1966 when it ceased being an orphanage. The
structure was used for other purposes, lately a law office.
This is a rear view of the structure once used as an orphanage.
The outside was probably clapboard instead of stucco and the
2-level structure was probably divided into many rooms.
According to Mary, the three Martinez sisters were there for
about four years and their lives were okay. They probably ate
better than many children due to depression times. The nuns
were probably strict. Flora re-married in late 1933 and was in a
position to reclaim her four girls. Although she moved not too
distant from Santa Fe, she retained her home in Raton and that
is where she raised her girls.
Flora Martinez, a widow, age 26, mother of seven children, five of whom survived, would
have to make the biggest decision that she would ever have to make. Due to her situation and
economic times, she placed her four youngest children in an orphanage in Santa Fe. The
youngest, Felipa, was adopted by her godparents after she was in the orphanage for about
three months. The oldest child, Alicia, stayed with some folks in Raton.
In January 1957 Flora Guebara-Martinez-Benavidez
was killed when the car in which she was riding,
with her husband and his two grandchildren, went
off the highway on the Raton Pass. Flora is buried
at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Raton.
Old Santa Rita Church, Carrizozo, N.M. is
where Alice was baptized.
St. John the Baptist Church, Dawson, N.M.
is where Mary was baptized.
Old St. Joseph Church, Raton, N.M. is where
Rebecca, sisters, Lupe and Faye, and
brother Felipe were baptized.
|Alice Rivera rests with
husband, Manuel, at Fort
Logan National Cemetery,
Mary is buried at Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery
in Raton, N.M. A daughter, Roberta Ann, also is
buried in the cemetery.
Lupe is buried in the Catholic Cemetery at
Trinidad, Colo. as is brother-in-law Roy Fresquez.
San Miguel Church or San Miguel Mission
or Chapel, Santa Fe, N.M., originally
constructed 1610-1626 and repaired and
rebuilt over the years is recognized as the
oldest church in the continental U.S.
Church services are held on Sundays.
Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church in Tome, N.M. is where Rebecca's great
grandmother, Maria de los Santos Torres, born January 15, 1842, was baptized. She
was the daughter of Mariano and Guadalupe of Manzano, N.M. Church records began
in 1793. The church walls are heavily buttressed as the photo shows.
Faye is buried in the local cemetery
at Rocky Ford, Colo.