IHPOASilver City, NM 
Indian Hills Property Owners Association

                                

 

Indian Hills: An historic antecedent to the north
By Ron Hamm

Indian Hills, home to nearly 500 residences, was once the Anchor Ranch, which grazed thousands of sheep. Lowell Cain, a Las Cruces realtor who helped develop Indian Hills, says the original headquarters were in Los Alamos. The ranch was originally called the Loomis Ranch for the homesteader who founded it. His claim, according to Los Alamos County Historical Society archivist Rebecca Collingsworth, is dated 1901. The holding became Anchor Ranch when the wealthy A.M. Ross family of New York purchased it for their handicapped son, Alexander, about 1925. During World War II, as the government sought a site to develop the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project, the War Office invoked condemnation proceedings followed by a Declaration of Taking for the ranch and other private land, including the famous Los Alamos Ranch School. Thus, what was once thousands of acres of ranchland is now home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. After 1943 the ranch consolidated its holdings in Grant County. At this point, the story becomes a bit less clear in some crucial aspects.

                                     

                                 Anchor Ranch 2 House today

Dave Crosley grew up in the ranch house on Little Walnut Road and has conducted informal research on his boyhood home. The house contains some 4000 square feet with two fireplaces, several bedrooms, and formerly an upstairs office. He calls the house an example of "form over function. It's beyond opulent. It's ridiculously overbuilt." But he asks, "if you had the money, why not build a showplace?" Crosley, a former history teacher and amateur historian, believes the house was built between 1880-1890, possibly 1888. The Grant County Assessor's Office shows an estimated date of construction as 1895 with first floor square footage at 1739 and the second floor at 1158. Crosley thinks the ranch wanted a second home to "serve as a showplace (and) to have someone on site to keep track of its southern holdings." Despite the house's historical importance, Crosley and his mother have declined opportunities to have it placed on the historic register, eschewing any related oversight such a designation might bring. He says there were several natural springs in the area and that when his family moved into the house there was a flowing artisan well near the back door. Mr. Lynn was the caretaker, and Pete S. Garcia was foreman. Both are deceased. But something remained behind after Ross, Lynn, and Garcia passed on. The reader can decide. There is no question, however, for Crosley. He matter of factly says the house is haunted. "I've actually seen him." The ghost, whom Crosley describes as "a very tall, skinny cowboy," hasn't been sighted for several years. "It's weird... but he just acted like a cowboy..." Ghosts aside, the house was home to a living, breathing Alex Ross, who was the raison d'ĂȘtre his parents became ranch owners in the first place. Following his death, the trust no longer had a reason to retain the land.

Indian Hills comes into being

Lowell Cain (Courtesy of Lowell Cain)

But there is general agreement that one purpose of both holdings was to provide a home for Alex and that Bences Gonzales, an old friend and valued ranch employee, made at least one visit to Silver City after WW II to visit him. Ross lived in the ranch house for many years with caregivers on hand to see after him and could often be seen walking along Little Walnut. After he died, Cain and his fellow investors in 1973 bought 1,762 acres with Phillip Horton and his wife purchasing three lots and the ranch house and living there until Crosley's mother and her former husband bought it in 1978. What was left became Indian Hills. There were no other sizeable parcels to develop, and when the ranch became available, Cain and his partners acted. "We felt there was a need" (for the sub division), he recalls. "You have to remember," he explains, "real estate in Silver City in the 1970s was unbelievable." Marilyn Berry, a realtor and president of the Indian Hills Property Owners Association, adds that "at the time, Indian Hills was considered a prime location for nicer homes. Remember, this was before Wind Canyon and Dos Griegos." The land was in two more or less equal parcels, and the partners decided to develop the lower section lying east of Little Walnut Road and north of Cain Drive first. Cain says there was no specific rationale for selecting the development's name, only that the area was "hilly and that we are in Indian Country." The first house was built on Kachina Circle, but eight more, built by the late Don Berry, soon followed. Some street names honor Native American themes, others bear family surnames.

Streets honor former old-timers

Some Indian Hills street names honor well-known early Silver City residents such as Gideon Truesdell. Truesdell came to Silver City in 1874 from Wisconsin and was involved in mining for several years. Timmer Way recognizes the Timmer Family, for whom the Timmer House, a well-known hostelry of its time, was named. Eddie Ward Way honors the late Eddie Ward, former Mayor of Silver City in the late 1930s and 40s. Mr. Ward, with his wife, Clara, owned the Gila, Silco, and El Sol movie theatres in Silver City. and operated the Tejo and El Cobre theatres in Santa Rita and Hurley. They were the parents of Cain's wife, Winnie. The late Helen Lynch and Helen Lundswall, both longtime Silver City Public Library librarians, called on their considerable knowledge of the town to suggest names. Unfortunately, not all issues dealing with this story are as straightforward as the street naming process.

Some unanswered questions

Despite considerable questioning, there is a 30-year gap in this narrative dating from the federal government's taking of the Los Alamos property in 1943 until the land here was sold to Cain and his associates in 1973. Two possibilities are that the Grant County property was always part of the original ranch, hence the signpost name of "Anchor Ranch 2," or that the Ross family acquired land here after its Los Alamos holdings were seized. Another question concerns the age of the ranch house. No records have been found to prove it was built in the late 1800s; likewise there is nothing to show it wasn't. But if was built in the 1800s it could not have been the Anchor Ranch house since the ranch did not acquire that name until the 1920s. The fact remains that there was a disabled son, and that he did live on both properties. The historical question will ultimately be answered. The issue of the mysterious apparition probably won't. Thus this essay remains a work in progress.

The players

Attorneys for the two parties involved in the transaction were the late Hubert Robertson for the Ross Estate and, J. Wayne Woodbury representing the buyers. Partners, in addition to Cain, included Jack C.Vowell Jr., Frank Weidner, Jack Kennedy, Paris R. Burn Jr., Albert R. Hagg Jr., Robert Heasley, W.K. Simpson, Morris Rudick, and Norman R. Rousselot.

The Original Anchor Ranch in Los Alamos

Original Anchor Ranch House in Los Alamos (Courtesy of the Los Alamos Historical Society)


Original Anchor Ranch Bunk House (Courtesy of the Los Alamos Historical Society)

Original Anchor Ranch Foreman's House(Courtesy of the Los Alamos Historical Society)

Original Anchor Ranch Barn (Courtesy of the Los Alamos Historical Society)

 

 

 

 

 

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