Memories of Camp Cody Weblog

August 19, 2010

County brings down fabled Holy Cross – Part 4 of 4

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Michael Kromeke @ 11:12 am

Camp Cody/Holy Cross: Final insult

The importance to Luna County of the site known as the location of Camp Cody and later the Holy Cross Sanitarium is not the possibility of its possession by ghosts and spirits. Its fame is not that it became a dumping site, party site for young people, or that it has been the site of murders.

The real importance is that Camp Cody, a training camp for National Guard soldiers from many states for World War I, was one of the most important historical, economic, and social events in this county’s history. The area was once again benefited by the economic impact of the Holy Cross Sanitarium.

Camp Cody and the Holy Cross Sanitarium occupied the same site northwest of Deming. The Sanitarium occupied the buildings used for the base hospital for Camp Cody. Camp Cody brought 30,000 troops to the community. The economy, in the area, was greatly improved as businesses opened everywhere and anywhere in the community that could support a store. The area was impacted socially by the many troops coming to town attending church and joining fraternal organizations. Families of troops came to Deming and rented homes. Many local citizens were employed by the camp.

The Holy Cross Sanitarium followed in the 1920’s. It opened as a hospital for patients suffering from tuberculosis. Again, the local economy was improved by the staff and patients who used local businesses. The importance of the hospital to the economy was evident when the Village of Deming was attempting to have the hospital turned into a state hospital in 1939, when the facility burnt and was destroyed.

The question now raised is who determined that the site could only be destroyed? Who made the decision that the site could not be salvaged as a historical site? Who determined that no community interest existed for its preservation? Was an archeological team brought to the site to determine it was of no value? When was the Luna County Historical Society contacted as to the historical importance of preserving the site?

Had someone contacted the museum, they would have been told that annually many visitors come to the museum or contact the museum archives wanting to know about relatives who were stationed at the camp. If someone had “googled” it, they would have seen that there are web sites dedicated all or in part to the camp. If someone had simply done a search on the eBay website, it could have been determined that much memorabilia from the camp is listed and selling for prices that definitely suggest an interest in the camp still exists.

The County Commission which has taken much effort in holding public forums on many topics made no effort to hold forums on the future of the Camp Cody/Holy

Cross site. Many will remember that extensive public meetings were held and committees were formed when the future of the railroad depot was in question.

What was the rush? Why was the destruction held in secret from the public? The reason given was safety for tearing down the remains of the buildings. Nothing had really changed on the site since 1939, so it is hard to conclude that it was such an immediate safety concern that would have prevented public forums on the subject.

It is hard to escape the possibility that those who made the decision simply were unaware of the importance of the site in local history. Again, this goes back to the issue of why experts were not brought in to evaluate the site.

The State of New Mexico is planning for the 2012 centennial of our statehood. It would appear that Luna County’s contribution to the celebration will be the clandestine destruction of a site that was part of two major historical events of the county. The preservation of the site, as a historical site, could have been a great achievement as part of the centennial had any foresight been given to the issue.

William Bayne Anderson lives in Deming and is a History Instructor. He is also the author of: “Camp Cody and Deming, New Mexico: A Partnership of War.”

By Bayne Anderson For the Headlight – Deming Headlight Newspaper

August 12, 2010

County brings down fabled Holy Cross – Part 3 of 4

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Michael Kromeke @ 4:11 pm

Stuff legends are made of

Holy Cross, the Chinese Gardens and the Lost Bridge are a few of the Luna County landmarks that have spawned myths and legends that have been handed down from generation to generation.

I could remember on my visits to Deming as a small child being taken to these places and having my wits scared out of me by my aunts and uncles who were born and raised here in Deming and had spun their own tales of hauntings and horror.

The Holy Cross, a sanitarium for the treatment of tuberculosis in the early 1920s, served the community and the southwest because of its sunshine, dry climate and fresh air.

Originally built as a military facility during World War I, Camp Cody was established on Deming’s northwest side, about three miles from the town.

Through some local wheeling and dealing, the hospital was created with 35 of the 80 original buildings that remained intact when the military left, and in 1923, the sanitarium opened under the direction of the Catholic Church.

In 1939, a horrific fire destroyed most of the structures, and soon after, the sanitarium closed for good.

Myths have circulated about the property’s paranormal activity and stories about satanic worship and sacrifice, residual hauntings by mistreated patients and sanitarium personnel, and even murder and death struck fear in generations here in town.

It also ranked as a party place back in the day and young people managed to spook away most of the paranormals on occasion.

If you, or one of your family members has never been to Holy Cross, then you missed out on a bit of Deming’s history and fabled landmarks.

In a way, it is sad to hear and see that the county is clearing the land of what remains of the TB hospital. A lot of graffitied names on the walls come tumbling down. Does that mean they will stave off a certain demise?

Legend has it that if you scrawl your name on the walls, you pretty much sign away your being.

Who knows? Only time will tell.

The Headlight is not without its’ own terror tale from Holy Cross.

Upon learning of the demolition at Holy Cross, I sent a reporter to the location, with camera in hand.

He came back and said upon arrival, one of the heavy loaders broke down and there would be no photo opportunity that day.

That same day, another reporter’s camera came back on the fritz.

The stuff legends are made of.

By Bill Armendariz Headlight Editor – Deming Headlight Newspaper

August 7, 2010

County brings down fabled Holy Cross – Part 2 of 4

Filed under: Camp Cody Deming — Michael Kromeke @ 8:50 am

County did not fund Holy Cross demolition

The demolition of the Holy Cross Sanitarium was initiated by the property owner, not Luna County, according to the county planning director.

Frank Almanza, Luna County planning director, said the property owner paid for the demolition, not the county.

When reached for comment, Joe Deckert, an owner of the land on which the former tuberculosis hospital sat, said he would like to have the county pay for the demolition. He hung up the phone following his statement.

“We couldn’t make him tear it down; we couldn’t do anything,” Almanza said. “The only thing we were going to do is ask him to board it up and fence it.”

Deckert was unavailable for futher comment. When approached for more information, a family member answered the telephone call and declined to become involved.

On the first day of wrecking at the Holy Cross site, located about three miles north of town, county code enforcement officers told the Deming Headlight that the building was being torn down for safety reasons, and there were code violations. Almanza said Tuesday it was the property owner’s decision to demolish the building.

“It amazed us that he was going to go through with it,” Almanza added.

The demolished building was part of a larger facility that was originally built during World War One for military training. The facility was later purchased in 1922 by the Holy Cross Hospital Association. The nuns of the Holy Cross group later invested money into the building to aid the treatment of tuberculosis patients.

The nuns operated the hospital until 1938, when financial problems forced the facility closure. The following year, most of the grounds were destroyed by fire.

Deming Headlight Newspaper – By Matt Robinson Headlight Staff

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