Saturday, January 19, 2008

More about the Capitol Bar

According to a pamphlet called "Historic Socorro" available at the Visitor's center, the Cap was established in 1896, is "made of stone and has a long and colorful history associated with the plaza and town" and was restored in 1993 following a fire caused by a lighning bolt.

And from a 2006 publication called "Old West Trails" is this little tidbit: "Built in 1896, it also doubled for a time as a courtroom and jail."

That was all a google search netted me, and it's just enough to make me want to know more. Without actually getting out of my chair, I was able to find several references to the Capital Saloon in a book called "Socorro, A Historic Survey" by John P Conron (published in 1980 by the UNM Press, for those who appreciate that kind of information.)

Socorro was going through a boom period in the 1890s, which is when the Capitol was built, and Conron talks about the availability of brick being key to the style of the commercial buildings that went up at that time. The bricks would have come by rail or been made by the Fire Clay Works in Socorro, and the architectural details would have included "corbel tables, arched windows that were often narrow in width and long, recessed panels, and dentillated coping." (p.22)

A corbel table is what I would think of as a "ledge-like thing"; coping is the capping or covering of a wall, and you're on the right track with dentillation if you think "teeth" - according to Wikipedia, a dentil is a tooth-shaped block used as a repeating ornament in the bedmould of a cornice. It occurs to me that better pictures are in order - I'll try to get some, soon.

The fire in 1993 and subsequent remodeling explains why I didn't feel the presence of inebriated ghosts. For some reason, I wonder if the Historic Socorro pamphlet wasn't wrong about it being built of stone - it makes more sense to me to put a brick facade on an adobe building than on one built of stone. I'll have to figure out how to do more research on this - and on the use of the bar for a courtroom and jail. That has a wild west vibe to it that I'd like to know more about.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Here are a couple of photos from a walk a little while back that we did around the Historic Plaza area.

The Capitol Bar building is over a hundred years old, and ought to reek of history. I've been inside and was vaguely disappointed. I don't know what I expected. Inebriated ghosts?

Depending who you believe, this was built in the 1890's or the early 1900s - about the time that water began to be piped around the city - and was the Water Department (or Water Commission.) Then it was, until recently, the City Police Department, and now it houses the Socorro Heritage and Visitor's Center.

I don't know anything about this building on Garfield (Garfield Street, paved 1936 by the WPA, yes?) other than it used to be a roller skating rink - remember roller skating? Looking at it makes me feel wistful.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Streets and Sidewalks

Following Fort Bragg Ron's example of noticing the little things as well as the big, I spotted this marking on the sidewalk of Fisher Street, and wondered about it. Finally had a moment to check out what Wikipedia has to say about the WPA, which, for any readers who might not happen to be up on their American History, was a government program created to provide jobs for people during the Great Depression (now there's an oxymoron for you.) I knew they built schools, and I knew about the Federal Writer's Project, vaguely, but I didn't realize they also built streets and sidewalks and Camp David (which was called "Shangri-La" when Roosevelt was President, which strikes me as weirdly fanciful.)

Speaking of presidents, here's another WPA graffito on Garfield Street:

In the news today were more stories about the recession - it's official, folks, we're in a recession. Usually the word recession has the word "mild" in front of it, but I haven't noticed them using any qualifiers this time around. Wonder what that means.

Monday, January 7, 2008

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...MREs!*

A lovely comment from Jim Wetzig reminded me how much I love blogging, and how much I've seen and experienced of Socorro that I want to write about.

Tonight I went to the City Hall to attend a city council meeting, and got my first look at the mayor. The issue that got me, and many others, to attend a city council meeting, had to do with an air force "drop zone" - an area where the air force can conduct training runs on how to drop shit out of aircraft - at a proposed site not far from the city limits.

There was a movie a while back called "Operation Dumbo Drop" where for various reasons that I won't go into here, an elephant is dropped out of a military plane, and so when I think about the air force dropping things out of planes, naturally I can't help envisioning elephants and zebras and giraffes gently floating down out of the sky under brightly colored parachutes to land beside highway 60 to the surprise and amazement of the cows and passing motorists.

When I read the fine print of the proposal, however, there was no mention of elephants, much to my disappointment, and so I felt that it behooved me to get over to the meeting and learn what there was to learn. And I was encouraged by what I saw and heard, and hopeful that between the input of the citizens and the mayor and the city council we might be able to influence this decision and minimize the damage to this town which I already love and feel at home in. I'm not against this drop zone existing, or even existing somewhere close to where I live, but I'd like to see the aircraft routed in a thoughtful and responsible way.
* MREs - "Meals Ready to Eat" - vacuum sealed pouches of "food" which can be heated or, in a pinch, eaten cold; a staple of the U.S. military, and of survivalist groups who stockpile them because they are Indestructible and Never Go Bad. I'm not really clear on what the air force wants to train their pilots to drop out of their aircraft, other than bombs, but one of the things mentioned was "rescue kits" which presumably have food in them, food which doesn't need refrigeration and can survive an 800' drop into a fresh cowpie.