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Columbus Depot Museum, Columbus

#109 of 174 in Museums in New Mexico
History Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
Welcome to the Columbus Museum's Facebook Page! While nineteen states have a place named Columbus, this village in southern New Mexico occupies a significant and unique place in history.

Many visitors might define Columbus history by Pancho Villa's attack on the town on March 9, 1916. The event shocked the United States; Villa's men intentionally targeted civilians as well as military in both the town and the surrounding ranches.

In retaliation for the Battle of Columbus, United States General "Black Jack" Pershing led the Mexican Punitive Expedition. Here, Pershing innovated new military uses for airplanes and trucks - a new, efficient way to move an army and its supplies. Not long after his time in Columbus, Pershing would command allied troops in a new and sometimes terrifying age of military technology: World War I.

But Columbus is more than Pancho Villa and Black Jack Pershing. The El Paso and Southwestern Railroad operated in town for decades. The line transported passengers and troops, but mining freight was its most profitable duty.

Like many companies after 1929, the El Paso & Southwestern suffered and began a slow decline that ended in 1961. Copper prices and thus copper mining collapsed after World War I. Competitor Southern Pacific acquired EP&SW and the line through Columbus was discontinued. New Mexico State Highway 9 follows the old route.

The village's population already dwindled when the mining industry collapsed and the Great Depression hit, and the railroad's exit reinforced the trend. Some nearby places, like Tomerlin to the west, did not survive the end of the rail and have become ghost towns.

Why did Columbus survive? Why has it rebounded? Maybe it's because the community preserves and celebrates its complex history: The Columbus Depot Building, which houses the Museum, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Perhaps it's the way Columbus residents look at the past and the community with many different views, but similar passions.

Come on down to the Columbus Museum. Find out for yourself why we can't be derailed.
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  • I have been wanting to visit Columbus, NM for years to see first hand the location where Pancho Villa raided the United States in March of 1916. This little museum - an old train depot amazed me...  more »

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