Monday, July 17, 2006

Marcus Scotus strikes again

Do click over to Rome of the West for pictures by Marcus Scotus from the weekend's Latin Liturgy Association church tour, which includes a photos and commentary on Holy Family church, built in 1799 in Cahokia, Illinois.


tim r. souder said...

Very spaceship-ey looking. :)

Anyway, thought I'd contribute
something cool (no pictures,
though one can find a couple

I recently went on a cross-country
drive, and in the midst of my
3,000 mile trek I found myself in
High-Plateau country in eastern
New Mexico -- AKA 'the badlands',
or 'US Plateau', where the
government owns most of the land,
and where your cell phone can
only receive/send 911 calls.

Somewhere out there, I happened
to notice an old wooden building
that looked like a church. I felt
I couldn't pass this by, got out
of my car, and found myself in an
old ghost-town: Cuervo, New

Cuervo was founded mostly by
Mexican 'colonialists', as near
as I could tell, who came to this
remote region around the time that
New Mexico became a state. They
built a small village out of red
rocks from the nearby hills, and
scraped what little wood they had
to build doors, water-catchment
basins, and some small fences.

Cuervo is an entire small village
that has been almost completely
abandoned alongside the old
railway tracks that had once led
Easterners out West (read Stephen
Crane's 'The Blue Hotel' for some
insight). It was dusty, dirty,
and overgrown by cactus in many
places. Almost all of the
buildings that still stood had
one or more of their walls caved-
in, and loose stones lay in the
dirt and scrub where they had

It's a weird feeling being in a
real ghost-town; and I half-
expected to see Clint Eastwood
step out from behind a building,
and ask me how far it was to
Tucumcari (about 42 miles east,
as the crow flies, I'd tell him).

Walking around in this dusty
town, I observed that people led
extremely basic lives back then,
and they lived in *VERY* small
homes -- most buildings in the
ghost-town were only one-room,
and about 5x8 feet in size (no,
I'm not kidding). But as poor
as they were in what has to be
one of the most remote locations
in America, their greatest effort
was clearly invested in their

In the center of town I found
what I had seen from the road:
A small, one-room Catholic
Church. It was about 12x40
feet in size, and appeared to
have two rooms (the door was
locked). It was about 17 feet
high, and had a small bell-
tower with a small, white,
metal Cross on top. The tower
had a circular hole in front,
the better for hearing the
bell, I supposed.

I approached the Church, and saw
an old rope hung above the front
steps, which went up and through
a hole above the front door, and
into the bell tower above. As I
was looking at all this, I
noticed a small stone set in the
tower. As near as I can
remember, this is what it said:

this Church founded by




I dug around in my car for my
camera, but I was out of film
(as mentioned earlier, someone
else seems to have thought this
place to be rather interesting,
and posted some snaps online).

So, I walked around the building,
and found that the windows were
still intact, and that someone
had placed plastic flowers in
each of the windows. I couldn't
see inside, and didn't want to
risk leaning-against the old
walls to do so.

Anyway, after walking through the
dust, rocks, and cactus (and
watching out for snakes -- it
was over 90 degrees that day), I
decided that it would be nice if
the Church's bell sounded once
more in this abandoned village.

I walked up the steps, grabbed
hold of the rope, and gave a
gentle pull. I felt a heavy
bell start to swing, and then
suddenly the rope broke free,
and fell down into my hands.
As I examined the rope, it
began to crumble and fray in
my hands. I let the rope lay
on the steps, and walked back
to my car.

So, if you find yourself in
Cuervo one day (the town, not
the bottle), and you find an old
rope on the steps of the Church,
I'm here to tell you that I
broke it. If someone wants to
contact the local Diocese and
have me replace it at personal
cost, I will gladly do so -- a
trip like that through a dusty-
old ghost-town was worth it.


Curmudgeon said...

Nice story. Driven past Cuervo many times when I was younger, but of course never stopped. You out to send your story to Tom at the Donegal Express. As a New Mexican, he'd appreciate it.