After I left the Balloon Fiesta, I headed down to Deming. I had decided I wanted to winter in New Mexico rather than going further west since I’d be heading back to Lake Guntersville, Alabama for the RV Entrepreneur Summit in March. Plus, I’d never been to New Mexico and it takes time to explore a new state.

My original plan was to spend two months in Deming, a month in Santa Fe or Taos and then a month in Albuquerque. But once in Deming, I realized to head back north for January and February would actually mean heading into colder weather which I hadn’t quite understood when I was making my plans and Deming was cold enough.

Plus, the first two weeks in Deming, I was preparing for the challenge of NaNoWriMo (writing 50,000 words in 30 days) and all of November I was writing those words, it didn’t actually feel like I started exploring until December. So, spending all four months in Deming turned out to be a good thing for me.

Giant Indian pot pouring water into another one. American Indian inspired town center. Background includes a mural on the side of the building in a matching theme.
I loved this town center. In case you can’t tell it’s a water fountain. I meant to return to rephotograph it in the early morning hours before such long shadows were cast but I never did.

Why Deming?

I chose Deming for the simple reason that there is an Escapees RV Park there that offers a very good monthly rate. The best I’ve seen on the road so far at only $225 a month for members. Plus, electric. It’s $10 more a month for non-members. However, note that the $40 I saved in the four months paid for the $39.95 annual membership fee with a nickel left over. Not to mention, I’d already “paid” for the membership during my stay in Branson at another Escapees RV Park.

If you are interested in learning more about an Escapees’ memberships and the many benefits being a member includes, CLICK HERE.

Dream Catcher is a decent RV Park. I learned there are actually many others in the small town. Thirteen, in fact, and that doesn’t include the nearby state parks. Someone told me about one that charges only $150 per month but it wasn’t as nice.

In the foreground is a tan camp chair and little table. There are two mason jars filled with moonshine on the table. In the background is a white travel trailer and a white van.
The nice thing about staying in Deming is that a lot of people pass through on their way to Arizona. I had four friends overnight at Dream Catcher so we got the chance to catch up. Here I set up a place for the first couple who came through and I to sit and chat and to finish the last of the moonshine I had from Missouri.

Obviously, the area doesn’t support high-cost RV parks in general. Up in Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque, I was looking at $600 to $700 per month so you can see how easy it was to choose to stay in Deming.

One of the most surprising things about the area is that, if you are willing to drive a bit, there is a lot to see and do. You might not be willing to drive as much as I did—and I know this is surprising since I’m not a big fan of driving. This post focuses on things in Deming minus the local museum because that one needs a post of its own. And, after that one, I’ll share the adventures that used a little gas.


Long before Deming was a town, Native Americans lived in the area. You’ll see lots of pottery and other artifacts displayed at various locations. In 1848, the Treaty of Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War. A couple years later, in 1853, the US made its last land purchase to create the US-Mexican border we know today. The Gadsden Purchase, as it is known, included southwest New Mexico as well as the southern quarter of Arizona, including Yuma and Tuscon.

Front of the Visitors' Center in Deming, New Mexico. The state's yellow flag with red geometric design waves. There is also a sign that reads, "Elevation 4335."
Entering the Deming Visitors’ Center. You can see in the background there are several old train cars you can look at.

The US wanted the land to create a transcontinental railroad. It was thought the area they acquired was more compatible terrain for a railway. In fact, Deming was, for a short time, called New Chicago as it was expected to grow to resemble Chicago because of the railroad.

The Silver Spike was driven in 1881 to celebrate the meeting of the Southern Pacific with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroads. Deming developed as a railroad service point, a trade and shipping center for agriculture, livestock and mining products. For a while it was also called Mimbres Junction (Mimbres Indians were the predominant culture in the area) but then was renamed for Mary Ann Deming Crocker, wife of Charles Crocker, one of the principal builders of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Visitors’ Center

As I do most places, I started my time in Deming at the Visitors’ Center. I picked up tons of brochures, maps and had a nice conversation with the two ladies who work there. They are the ones who gave me the scoop on Hatch and the New Mexico Chile Pepper.

I loved the sign post outside as well as the décor. But it is a small center with no films or display boards, so it’s a fast visit. At the end of my time in Deming, I returned to the Visitors’ Center because it housed a geocache. I walked away with a ring from Frozen.

A colorful sign post taken against a blue sky. It includes 9 directional markers to places to visitor in and around Deming, New Mexico.
I made it to half of the places listed on the sign post in front of the Visitors’ Center.

Deming’s Historic Landmark Walk

I’m a big fan of self-guided walking tours as you might remember from my time in Walla Walla as well as Long Beach Washington. So, I was excited to pick up a map and a brochure for the Historic Landmark Walking Tour in Deming.

Like many walking tours, Deming’s is in the downtown area. About half of the buildings on the tour were built in the decade following Deming becoming a railroad town in 1881. The other half were constructed in the early part of the 20th century.

Blond brick building with large keystone windows painted red.
This big building was originally two with one as a grocery and one as a bank. It was rebuilt after a fire in 1914. Later the Bank of Deming, one of the town’s first banks, took up both. Even today, the 18-inch thick vault remains and is now an office.

Although the walking tour offers 16 stops, downtown Deming includes 65 buildings that are recognized for their historic integrity and significance, as well as five buildings that are individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The area of the buildings is small so it wasn’t quite the walk I’d hope it would be. The core cluster of 15 is about a half mile’s walk. But when you add the Luna County Courthouse, stop number 16, and go back to where you started, the walking tour is a mile.

Most of the buildings, I have to say, are just buildings. At first, I found it kind of a boring walking tour. They were so close together it wasn’t like the treasure hunt I’ve loved from other tours. The map information is helpful in that it points out architectural features to notice and offers what types of businesses have been in the buildings over the years.

But wait…because about half way through the tour, I discovered something.

If You Take the Tour of Deming

This was definitely a first for me. You know how historic buildings usually have information signs? Generally they are a metal plate adhered to the building. Of the ones I’d read (before Deming), they were just the facts of the building. Usually you’d read stuff about when it was built, who built it, why it was significant and which historic register it was on and when it was declared historic. You know, nothing so interesting you are inclined to stop and read every one.

However, if you are ever in Deming and take the self-guided tour, you must stop and read them all.

Why? Because in addition to the usual ho-hum stuff, the placards on their buildings offer more. Gossip, really. They are like two old men sitting on a porch telling stories behind other people’s backs. I’m not kidding. There was one that tickled my funny bone so much I actually laughed out loud. I’ll share my two favorite.

Two Funny Stories

The first story had nothing to do with the building I was standing in front of. Rather, it was about the intersection. There was a new teacher in town, female, single. And two men—both married, by the way—sought her attention and affection. Their fierce competition ended in a shootout at the intersection. The school principal shot the other guy. A jury found the principal not guilty, deciding he acted in self-defense. The principal, his wife and family moved away shortly after.

Nobody won in that story. Still, the point is that the stories on the placards are not your run-of-the-mill information on the building’s architecture.

The second story, the one where I laughed out loud, took place at 110 South Gold Street. Completed in 1917, the building offered office space on the ground floor while the top floor served as a Masonic Hall. Here, I’ll let the placard tell the story. After the normal info, it reads:

It was a Deming tradition to have a gathering at the Masonic Lodge on Christmas morning. The lodge was not officially “open,” but the meeting was always well attended and most of the morning was spent reminiscing. On one occasion, Judge Amos Pollard remarked he only missed one gathering in 50 years. On that day he had to go down the street and hold court in the Decker Saloon. He had to fine 10 cowboys $7.50 each for riding their horses into the building. The old rancher he was talking to remarked, “That’s for damn sure! I know because I paid one of those fines!”

A tan two-story building with a large sign that reads Rise-n-Shine Bakery and Cafe.
Completed in 1917, the second floor was the Masonic Hall.. Notice the side door, a separate entrance to the second floor.

Luna County Courthouse

The last stop on the walking tour is the Luna County Courthouse. Built in 1910, the courthouse played an important role in local history. I’m sure you’ve heard of Pancho Villa, an important General in the Mexican Revolution War.

After years of public support and providing arms to Villa, US President Woodrow Wilson ended the support with the rationale that one of Villa’s rivals would bring quicker stability to Mexico. Villa had several major defeats prior to that, losing thousands of men.

With only about 500 men (known as Villistas) remaining, angry at the US, he planned attacks on the US. Additionally, the attacks were to acquire equipment and supplies. On March 9, 1916, Pancho Villa led an attack on the 13th Calvary Regiment in Columbus, New Mexico. They burned the town, seized 80 horses, 30 mules, 300 rifles and shotguns and killed 18 Americans.

In response, the US sent 5,000 troops to pursue Villa. They chased him for nearly a year but were unsuccessful. In the end, the troops were called back as the US was on the verge of entering World War I.  

So, what does all of this have to do with the Luna County Courthouse? During the raid, the US captured some of the Villistas. They were tried at the Luna County Courthouse and four men were hanged just east of the courthouse in the jail’s courtyard.

A large brown brick building with a steeple in the middle.
Luna County Courthouse. It was December so the tree is decorated and you can see a wreath above the door.

Both the state and national registers of historic places include the entire Luna County Courthouse complex.

Visiting the Pancho Villa State Park was on my list but I never made it there during my time in Deming even though it was only about 30 miles south, very near the border.

More to Come from Deming

Next week I am excited to share my visit to one of the best museums I’ve been to yet in my travels.

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