Local landmarks reflect pride

Freedom Newspapers

Towns throughout eastern New Mexico and West Texas have their own landmarks that tell a story of the town’s history and what brings each one a sense of pride:

The National Mule Memorial is a unique monument in the small Texas town of Muleshoe.
The High Plains town was organized in 1926 and now serves as the county seat for Bailey County. The town was named for the muleshoe brand of a famous early ranch.
Mules played a large role in the pioneers’ lives who began Muleshoe. The beasts of burden pulled covered wagons, plowed sod and hauled freight. To honor the unsung mules, a group of Texas citizens decided to erect a memorial. Donations for the monument were received from throughout the nation.
Beside the statue is a plaque noting how mules made Texas history by carrying cannons on their backs during wars and hauling freight so forts could be erected. The mule is also lauded for its ability to scale steep inclines, go fast and endure much.
The memorial, unveiled July 4, 1965, is near the intersection of U.S. 70 / 84 in downtown Muleshoe and is a popular picture-taking site.
— Tonya Fennell

Nestled on the highway stretching between Clovis and Melrose, the St. Vrain Post Office is the landmark that puts the little town on the map. Residences that can be counted on one hand are tucked behind the building that at one time served a thriving railroad community and still serves as a social nexus, according to Postmaster Maxine Odom.
“Our little community is just about gone, but it used to be quite lived in,” Odom said.
Approaching its 100th birthday, the building is said to have been one of the first buildings erected in Curry County as it was birthed from the plateaus by railroaders, Odom said.
Without running water or plumbing to this day, the community cornerstone still has a functional outhouse behind the building.
Over the years, there has been a parade of owners who have made minor modifications. Services are modernized, and computers and telephones have been added, but overall it is unaltered, Odom said.
The boxes, worktables and basic structure are unchanged.
Built in 1907, the St. Vrain Post Office, according to an April 1, 1929, Clovis News Journal article, was the first federal building in Curry County. It is open every weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., categorizing it among the smallest post offices in New Mexico.
— Sharna Johnson

Rock ’n’ roll legend Buddy Holly recorded his first hits at the Norman Petty Recording Studio. The main studio building, constructed in 1953, is located on Seventh Street in Clovis.
The Petty music publishing company, Norvajak, sits beside the studio building. It got its name from the three founding members of the Norman Petty Trio: Norman and Vi Petty, and Jack Vaughn.
The recording studio has since become a popular tourist attraction for music enthusiasts.
A tour of the studio reveals walls laden with old 45s, sheet music and numerous awards. The original recording equipment is also still in place.
The building is considered a landmark by local residents because it has a rich musical history where the now-famous “Clovis sound” was born.
The studio was founded by Norman Petty.
Well-known artists such as The Fireballs and Roy Orbison recorded albums at the studio as well as current country western stars Waylon Jennings and LeeAnn Rimes.
Although the studio is no longer open for recording songs, public tours are available by appointment.
— Tonya Fennell

Located in the middle of Portales’ town square, the Roosevelt County courthouse has been a landmark for Portales residents for generations.
The current building was constructed in 1938 as a replacement for the original courthouse built in 1903. The ground floor includes office space for city officials, such as the county clerk, treasurer and commissioner. The district court is located on the second floor, and more city management offices are in the basement.
On the lawn of the courthouse stands a statue of Washington Ellsworth Lindsey, a distinguished county and city pioneer who was an early New Mexico governor.
The top floor of the courthouse served as the county jail in years past. The inmate cells are now used for storage, according to Janet Collins, the county clerk.
The courthouse was built at a cost of $200,000, meager by today’s standards, according to Joe Blair, a Portales historian.
“Today it would probably be a $2 million project,” Blair said.
The courthouse was built as a project of the Works Program Administration, an employment service during the Great Depression. Collins said teams of horses and mules were used to dig out the basement for the courthouse.
Parts of the original courthouse, which was torn down in 1937, can be found around the city. The clock tower on the public library is a replica of the one used in the original courthouse. Many of the stones used for the building were reused for buildings at the fairgrounds, according to Blair.
— By Michael Harrell