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Historic Mesilla and the Transportation Block

Located just 1/2 block south of the Old Mesilla Plaza, you will find the Rincon de Mesilla. As part of the Transportation Block our cafe restaurant built in 1856 still maintains many of its original structure.

It was here in this same block that Mesilla maintained a variety of stage, freight, and mail routes. It began in 1857 when the Butterfield Overland Mail Company, departed from St. Louis southward reaching Mesilla and ending in San Francisco. The total trip would take 23 days. The San Antonio Mail and Wells Fargo Express also became part of this trade route. The Transportation block also featured a blacksmith shop, billiard hall and bar that served fine wines, lobster and salmon for the local population and many travelers arriving to Mesilla.

With more than 2500 residents, Mesilla was the largest city between San Antonio and San Diego. The main plaza and surrounding blocks were filled with shops, hotels, restaurants, and bars. Mesilla was a vibrant city. Yet, at times Southern New Mexico and West Texas was viewed as a lawless region marked by political feuds between two parties, newly arriving Texas ranchers and cold-blooded gunfighters.

Mesilla officially become part of the United States in 1854 through the Gadsden Purchase, in which the U.S. paid Mexico $10 million for a 30,000 square mile area of Mexico that later would become the two states of Arizona and New Mexico.

The Transportation Block was also home for the first newspapers including the Mesilla News and Confederate Mesilla Times. Why Confederate? From 1861 to 1862, Mesilla was controlled by the Confederate Army. In 1862, the Union Army recaptured Mesilla and one of those notable Union figures who was part of the recapture was a gentleman name Albert Jennings Fountain.

A sergeant at the time, Albert Fountain was a renaissance man. Soldier, lawyer, politician and philanthropist, Albert Fountain would later reach the rank of Colonel. In 1862, Colonel Fountain married Mariana Perez, a member of a Mesilla prominent Mexican family and they had six children. As an attorney, one of Fountain’s most famous clients was Billy the Kid. Convicted of murder, Billy the Kid would later escape from jail and at the age of 21 was killed in 1881 by a sheriff named Pat Garrett.

Col Fountain’s tragic ending took place in 1896, when he and his eight-year-old son Henry disappeared after returning from court proceedings some 75 miles north of Mesilla. At the time, Col. Fountain was investigating and prosecuting suspected cattle rustlers. To this day, the investigation on the disappearances of Col. Fountain and his son continues. This case remains one of the great mysteries.

This building would later become the home for the descendants of Col Albert Fountain and wife Marianna who lived in this property in the mid 1900’s.

With the desire to preserve the rich history of the Transportation Block, this historical building was purchased and restored by Elaine and Joseph Foster in 2018, bringing back to life its adobe walls, tile floor, wooden beams and volcanic fireplace. Stop in sometime and take in this fantastic history.