Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mason's Fort

   I became intrigued with finding Fort Mason or Mason's Fort after seeing the place name in a more or less blank spot in a  New Mexico atlas. Oddly enough it wasn't on the BLM map of the area. There wasn't any reference to it on the USGS topo either. In the days before widespread GPS use it wasn't that easy to find either. My first attempt I did a lot of driving around western Dona Ana County, sometimes on some pretty doubtful roads, without finding anything but more roads and the occasional conglomeration of forlorn cattle. The second time my wife, my Cairn Terrier Bonnie, and I  did a lot driving as well. We  visited a couple large cattle tanks that were obviously replenished by prolific wells with trees, reeds and many birds, who may have been as surprised as we were to find water in this remote, dry, brushy rangeland west of Las Cruces.Finally, we found the road that led us to within a few hundred yards of our destination and parked where it dead ended near the steep banked arroyo called Mason's Draw. There were trucks parked there, but they belonged to javelina hunters we found out, not seekers of the obscure Fort Mason. We wandered the adobe walls and stone foundations, that were perched close enough to the draw that it seemed a good summer gullywasher would remove any idea that Mason's Fort ever existed. Mason's Fort was not a military installation. It was stage and water stop set up along the defunct,but still used, Butterfield Mail Route, in the second half of the nineteenth century. It's fun finding things so long forgotten and sought by so few.

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