May 5, 2011

Hillsboro from the Air

Who ever it was that said a picture is worth a thousand words had never seen an aerial photograph.

These two images seem to have been taken on the same flight, judging from the sequence numbers in the bottom-left corner -- numbers 415 and 418. So where are those images in between -- 416 and 417?  And are there similar images of Kingston or Lake Valley?
The photographer and the dates of these images are unknown. Unfortunately, the text in the bottom-left corner is covered up in this copy, provided by the Gila National Forest - Black Range District.

Here's what we do know from the images: there are no bridges. The roads are not paved. The smelter is gone, but the slag pile, presently bisected by NM 152 mere feet from the bridge is visible in the top image. It's the dark fan-shaped figure along the south edge of the road that actually loops slightly around the dense material.

The Hillsboro High School is present in these images, and so is the Sierra County Courthouse. And the courthouse looks intact. That would roughly place these image between 1922 and 1939. So who took these photos, and why -- for what purpose? It's pure supposition, but these could be reconnaissance photos for a Depression-era New Deal agency, the Soil Conservation Service, today's Natural Resource Conservation Service, a part of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Or perhaps the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the agency that operates the dams on the Rio Grande to the east, took these images related to flood control? Do take note of the building in the middle of the creek toward the bottom of the first image. Had it been built before Percha Creek evulsed to leave in "midstream?"

No matter who clicked the shutter, or paid for the flight, the subject matter is beautiful, illustrative -- and instructive -- about what once was and what is Hillsboro. -- Craig Springer

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