To The Duke

To The Duke

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Trip to Red River

Recently, my son Josh and I made the drive from St. Louis to Red River, New Mexico. I'd been to New Mexico before but never that far north. The Red River area is amazing. Dusty Richards took us on a tour of Taos County and one remark he made stuck with me all the way home. He said that people were there, with prosperous communities of Mexicans and Native Americans, for centuries before this country's western expansion. When I got back to St. Louis I researched the Red River area and reference after reference said, when explorer, fur trappers and prosepectors discovered the area they put River City, as Red River was first called, on the map. With such a vast and populated community already there, how is a place discovered by visitors?

The mountains surrounding Red River are the Sangre de Cristos, name by the Spanish explorer, Antonio Valverde y Cosio in 1719. The name means "Blood of Christ" because of the impressive reddish hue of the snowy peaks at sunrise called alpenglow. When they found silver and gold and other metals in the mountains, Red River's population soared. There were two general mercantiles, a livery stable, two newspapers, a sawmill, blacksmith shop, barber shop, more than a dozen saloons, several hotels and boarding houses, a dance hall and a hospital. There was also a red light district with plenty of gambling and bar room brawls.

Now Red River is a peaceful resort town with skiers and hikers filling its narrow streets during the snow season, and people just wanting to enjoy the mountains during the rest of the year.  Oh, and the reason for my trip was to join a group of writers to discuss writing and marketing. That was worth the trip right there. Jodi Thomas, the NY Times bestseller, has a condo in Red River and years ago she had the idea of getting together with some friends in a very informal setting and just "talk writing." It was great. I met some neat people from all over the West. They were amazed that I'd driven all the way from St. Louis to be there. So was I. I don't look up miles when I travel. I look at the map and "guestimate." My problem with this trip was that in my head I thought...okay, I go through Missouri, through Oklahoma...and poof, I'm in northeast New Mexico. Three states. No problem. I figured 12 hours. It takes me 16 to get to Savannah, Georgia, a place I visit often. So Red River would seem like a simple jaunt down the road. Wrong! I wasn't figuring that the pan handle of Oklahoma is like driving through three states all by itself. What a drive. But I plan to make it again next year. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dag Nabbitt!

Telegraph KeyStandard Wireless Telegraph Key

I'm still having computer woes. Now, how can I relate this latest mess to the west somehow? I know. It's like the first telegraph lines they tethered to the rough cut poles and tree tops way back when. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn't. I actually had a guy at AT&T tell me it was the solar flares that are causing my wi-fi to go in and out. So we're still limping along with keeping this blog updated. Have patience. Once I get my computer fixed I'll be boring you to death with daily posts about cowboys and shoot em ups and stage coach robberies.

And for those who entered our Unknown Cowboy contests, thank you. We had so many great entries we're planning to use a couple of them in the next anthology. Our publication date is set for December 20th, so I'll notify you sometime at the end of October. And for those of you who ordered books or won a contest with a copy of a book as the prize. I mailed out a big batch today. And honestly, after standing in line this morning at the post office, I understand why they're losing money. It was worse than the day after Christmas in the returns line at Walmart.

The electric telegraph is a communication system that transmitted electric signals over wires from location to location. In 1809, a crude telegraph was invented in Bavaria by Samuel Soemmering. He used 35 wires with gold electrodes in water and at the receiving end 2000 feet the message was read by the amount of gas caused by electrolysis. In 1828, the first telegraph in the USA. was invented by Harrison Dyar who sent electrical sparks through chemically treated paper tape to burn dots and dashes. However, it was Samuel Morse (1791-1872) that successfully exploited the electromagnet and bettered the invention.

Old Telegraph Lines beside railway
Many of the lines that we used to see between the highways and the railroad tracks were originally telegraph lines. Phone companies leased the lines later when the telephone took over the communications business, which saved them millions of dollars.

Insulators first were used extensively in the mid-1840s with the invention of the telegraph. They were necessary to prevent the electrical current passing through the wire from grounding out on the pole and making the line unusable.

The first insulators were beeswax-soaked rags wrapped around the wire. They worked well in the dry laboratory but soon broke down when exposed to the weather. The next concept was a glass knob, which looked much like a bureau knob one still might find on antique furniture, mounted on a wood or metal pin.
 CD 100 SURGETypical Glass Insulator

I've monopolized my husbands computer long enough...he's starting to sigh and pace so I guess I'd better stop now. But I think tomorrow I'll hit the flea markets and see if I can buy some insulators, a pole, and an old telegraph key and maybe I can stop worrying about solar flares.