Stories of History and Hearsay
“Twenty little mountain towns, complete with histories of older times, are the subjects of this fascinating book. They are located in northern New Mexico, remnants of days when Spanish colonists hopefully settled here with dreams of growing wealth. The world has passed them by, and unless one turns from the highways to explore them, they are almost unknown except to their residents.
“This is part of their charm. Almost anywhere, today, one can find a small town being engulfed into the outskirts of a city, a place that everybody knows. But these charming little villages, while Santa Fe and Taos loom not so far away, are still individuals.
“Their histories are pleasant reading. Rayado is a place that less than a dozen people now call home, but that once knew Kit Carson and Lucien Maxwell. Truchas, founded in 1754, sits on the side of a steep slope. One gets off the railroad cars at Lamy to go to Santa Fe, and it has become something of a resort for Santa Feans, but who goes to Rociada—who even knows where it is? The Santa Fe Trail crosses the Pecos river at San Miguel del Vado, and its deep ruts remain, but the book tells us that the old court house is just a heap of rubble.
“Under the kindly treatment of Mrs. Bullock, who knows these places well, they come to life as pleasant villages that have escaped the blight of progress to a great degree and are the finer for it.
“They are not for tourists; they are for their own people, and it is good to know about them. Recommended for pleasant reading.”
—Editha L. Watson, Gallup Independent, February 28, 1974
“Alice Bullock’s Mountain Villages has been revised and enlarged and reissued by Sunstone Press of Santa Fe. Alice is a hyperactive book nut of the first order. She was the last school marm in Elizabethtown (once the county seat of Colfax County), a non-stop writer and book critic, and one who you can depend upon to give an opinion on just about anything New Mexican.
“Mountain Villages may just be her best book—many think so. The book is entirely New Mexican in subject as she visits (and laments about) the villages of Northern New Mexico such as Lamy, Truchas, Wagon Mound, Watrous, and so many more. The book is literally a conversation with Alice as she weaves fact and fantasy about this or that almost forgotten village. As she says, ‘We can’t go back, we can only, hopefully, remember.’
“And remember she does—of the time that Thomas Edison bedded down at the Palace Hotel in Cerrillos, there in his attempt to extract gold from the soil through electromagneticism. She tells you of other good and bad guys who roomed at the Palace in Cerrillos. There was Lew Wallace (who, along with Billy the Kid seemed to have slept everywhere in the state), and another former governor, Bradford Prince (who wrote the first history book of New Mexico in 1883), and Black Jack Ketchum was also there and left blood stains on the floor that were reportedly still there when the hotel went up in flames some years ago.”
—Dwight Myers, “Book Talk,” Albuquerque Outlook, December 9, 1981
“A few years ago, under the guidance of Helen Blumenschein of the Taos area, I had the privilege of visiting several of the mountain villages so lovingly described in this book. It was springtime, and we rode through gray canyons filled to bursting with fruit orchards in bloom, to the small communities of the early settlers of the region.
“Ever since then I have had a warm regard for that part of New Mexico. The people are self-contained, self-sufficient. Their energy is devoted to the land around them, raising their crops primarily for local use, devoting little or no time to the hard sell for tourists. In fact, tourists so far have given this part of the state little recognition, since what is there for them to see and marvel over but quite people minding their own business?
“All this is brought out in Mrs. Bullock’s captivating book. She takes us visiting as a friend would do. In fact, her friendship is very evident from the first page. She knows these villages at first hand, and tells about them with affection.
“What a pleasure it is to read a book like this, that sketches pictures of places one probably will never see but for which one is led to feel warm good wishes. Mrs. Bullock’s selection of villages and her treatment of them lead one to wish that other New Mexico areas might be selected for just such treatment as this, for they all are a part of the strong, silent heritage of the past, as much as a part of it as their gray canyons and the blossoming orchards. I like this book.”
—Editha L. Watson, Farmington Daily Times, February 24, 1974
“There must be a lot of us romantics around; travelers roaming the remote back-regions of civilization, wishing to capture a fragment of the past, but mostly just sliding on through the present. Finally one of us has really made an effort. Alice Bullock has written, not only about mountain villages, but also about the people who go on living in them at a time when any ‘sane’ person would leave for the city. The villages have names—El Rito, Lamy, Truchas, Rociada, Watrous, and so on. We even have pictures of them. But their story is one which touches all villages, and all people, for it is the story of the disappearance of an American way of life.
“There are glimmerings of hope—revivals and renewals of the pioneer spirit—but as Mrs. Bullock states, ‘We can’t go back, and the rural exodus is not yet complete. We can only, hopefully, remember.’ This book will help us remember.”