After the Depot
I spend a lot of time on US Highway 60. Not only do I travel the road for work, but I often explore its lonelier byways on my days off. Highway 60 once crossed the entire country and in New Mexico these two lanes of blacktop run through the central part of the state, from Texico to Quemado. US-60 essentially parallels I-40, but it’s usually at least 50 miles south and will take you maybe 5 times longer to travel. Sounds good to me!
If you drop “Encino” into your Google search engine about all you’re going to learn is that the population was 94 in 2000 and the town encompasses all of 2.0 square miles. Luckily, Dixie Boyle apparently likes Highway 60 as much as I do because she wrote an entire book about the New Mexican portion. Aside from the above facts, which are straight from Wikipedia, everything else in this post is from “Highway 60 & the Belen Cutoff: A Brief History.” Thanks, Ms. Boyle!
The name Encino, which means “oak” in Spanish, was derived from the scrubby trees that once covered the central plains of New Mexico. As is so often the case, Encino’s location can be traced back to a spring, long a well-known stop for thirsty travelers. Prior to 1900, something like a fort was built nearby to accommodate the dusty and weary for an evening or two.
Bonnie Salas was the first to homestead the land that would become Encino and, at that time, the few people in the area were mostly raising sheep or cattle on a fairly large scale. In 1905, the railroad announced plans to establish a depot in Encino and people took notice. This was another common story out on the plains, and one that usually ended similarly, as we’ll see.
The Bond family bought 40 acres from Bonnie Salas, some of which they’d soon sell to the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway for the depot. That same year they also built the B.G. Bond Mercantile, which doubled as the depot for a bit and remained the only store in Encino until A.R. Cecil established a lumber company in 1908.
Encino’s post office opened in 1904 and both a Protestant and Catholic Church were built in the town, at least one of which doubled as a school. In 1910, the Encino Progress newspaper was founded and quickly went out of business. The Encino Enterprise gave the newspaper trade another shot in the 1920’s and managed to hold on for about a decade. Somewhere in there William’s Mercantile was built along Railroad Street and was later moved to abut Highway 60. Unfortunately, I arrived just a few years too late to photograph the long-vacant store.
The best known citizen of Encino is undoubtedly R.C. Dillon, elected the eighth Governor of New Mexico in 1927. While Governor Dillon was born in St. Louis and moved to Springer, NM when he was 12, he later worked at B.G. Bond’s Mercantile and eventually opened his own store, R.C. Dillon & Company. The building is said to still be standing and recognizable by its faded sign. But for some reason I didn’t see it. Maybe it, too, is now gone.
Dillon served two two-year terms and would sometimes have political friends over for dinner at his home in Encino. The Governor was also a big proponent of paving roads. Not a surprising interest to have given the muddy, bumpy tracks he would’ve had to travel. Highway 60 was originally a wagon route and it wasn’t until 1918 that it began to see some initial truck traffic. Even once cars became relatively popular, horse and buggy was often still the faster way to travel the area. While US Highway 60 was officially designated in 1926, parts of the route in New Mexico actually remained unpaved into the 1950’s.
In 1965, Encino’s railroad depot closed and few small towns could weather that blow unscathed. The high school closed in 1982 and many of the town’s adobe buildings are now melting back into the earth. However, it’s said that the old Works Progress Administration-built gymnasium still contains the southwestern-themed murals of Hallie Williams, which she painted for $20 a pop between 1939 and 1942. On my next trip through I may need to see if I can track those down. Can anybody confirm that they’re still there?
So, that’s about all I know about Encino. If you’ve got stories or recollections to pass along, please do! Clearly, much of Encino’s history is fading fast.
This article originally appeared on the City of Dust website.
Very interesting report. I’ve traveled HWY 60 across NM 2000-2007 several times. Enjoyed it.
My mother and father both came from there and so did their parents. My dad played basketball and my mom was a cheerleader. It was a busy little town once upon a time!
Encino holds very special place in my heart because my grandmother was born there. She is now 83. We still visit Encino every now and then but not as much as we would like to anymore. Sadly, many of her friends and family that lived there have passed on.
I remember as a child going to a summer wedding dance at the Encino high school and my parents staying in the motel. My brothers and I slept in our 1964 Chevrolet station wagon.
My Dad ,Vicente Tapia was born in Pastura NM , east of Vaughn.
My grandfather and grandmother managed the motel in the early 70’s.I remember helping clean the rooms. My mom has pictures of the motel, I will attempt to find them. We spent our summers in Encino until the mid 80’s.
Very interesting, I have a picture from 1927 on what I believe to basically be on an early Highway 60. It shows a wide dirt road, barbed wire on both sides, my father’s old Maxwell automobile and a single, prominent mesa. I would give the fiver to discover where he was at the time. AT 16 he was driving his two sisters from Iowa to San Bernardino, Muscoy. I could send the picture on facebook or by email.
I lived in Encino in 1968 to 1969. My husband taught English at the High School. I have the best memories of that town. Everyone was so friendly. My hustband’s name was Berkley (Buck) Birdeau. By now, 50 years later very few people would remember us. Maybe a few high school students that would be in their sixties. I loved looking at the old pictures of buildings. The grocery store ‘Tom Montoya & Sons’ I remember well. Tom’s son was the principal at the school. Frank Davila was the superintendant. I’d like to go back some day and just drive through the town.
It is very sad now .. like Vaughn. All my cousins went to school at Encino ! Haldermans and Burtons I bet they will remember you.
Teresa – I remember hearing Buck Birdeau’s name – I am Tom Montoya Jr’s daughter. I would have been 6 years old when you were in Encino. I have many items from my grandfather’s grocery store in my home, including two of the long bean counters.
I am Mary Montoya’s grandson. She died in 1991 but I believe her father or grandfather was Tom Sr. My aunts visited the store recently and said that food and items were still on the shelf as if the store just closed.
My Dad’s family were ranchers in Encino. Granddad was also publisher of the Encino Enterprise, a businessman and politician, and Grandmother taught school and from what I understand – ran the Methodist Church too! My granddad was E L Hinton and Grandmother was Troy Hinton. There were 5 kids (my father included). Their house was on the east side of town and the ranch on the west – where the highway curves north. My siblings and I spent several summers there and have fond memories of life in Encino.
Mr. Hinton, my name is Marty Rivera, I am an Encino born son, both sets of Grandparents were from Encino, my Garcia Grandparents, Blas and Ursula had the U & I Bar and the Garcia and Sons Mercantile, they also ranched, I had the privilege to get to know your Grandparents Elmer and Troy Hinton. My Grandpa Blas and your Grandpa Elmer were very good friends and associates. My Rivera Grandparents, Jose and Eva were also friends of your Grandparents. Encino was actually a busy little place back when I was growing up. I have lived in the Socorro area most of my life, but Encino is still very much my birth home town. I tell people that I was born in the thriving metropolis of Encino, and people say it’s not so thriving now and I correct them by stating there are more wind generators than people but it’s thriving. I also tell them that when my day comes I will return to the “Llanos of Encino, my Tierra “. Your Grandpa’s place there on the west of Encino, with its big red barn, railroad tie fencing and good sized dirt tank were very well known to me and many others. Thank you for the memories, may your Grandparents know that you are doing them great honor by keeping their memories alive and out for others to see. We call that History, and we are all history makers and preservers. Marty Rivera, an Encino Born Son and Damn Sure Proud of my Encino.
Hello Marty, and Happy New Year!
Your posting timing was perfect! I was in Roswell spending Christmas with my sister when I saw your posting. I shared it with her and her kids/grandkids and we all enjoyed telling stories about time spent at Grandmother and Granddad’s place in Encino. I knew the red barn and railroad tie fences as they were still in use when we would visit. Granddad ran some sheep on the ranch and we laughed about the time he took my sister (age 7), Grandmother, and me (age 6) out in the family car to round up a herd. As we rolled through the pastures, he got us stuck in a gopher hole so the 3 of us walked the sheep home and he worked on getting the car out of a hole. By the time we got the sheep back to the barn and then walked home, he was waiting for us like nothing happened. He got a kick out of it but I don’t remember the other 3 of us laughing as much!
Our family still has the printing presses used at the Encino Enterprise (Granddad was editor/publisher) as well as a few other pieces belonging to them.
Did you happen to know Frank Norwood? He was a friend of my dad and became a family friend as we got older. From census reports I have found, Frank was a cook in a restaurant but I don’t know what one. When he passed, he didn’t want anyone notified and had a simple ceremony. I know nothing about his family or how he came to Encino but I am sm sure there is a fascinating story in there somewhere. From the census reports, I also noticed that my Granddad was the census taker as his signature is on pages he collected. Finding little bits of history, by plan or by accident, is what makes the search so exciting and fun.
Thank you for your posting. Its important to remember our past and our ancestors. They are what make us – US! I wish the very best to you and your family in 2022!
Curtis Hinton – son of John G. Hinton (born in Encino March 18, 1932 and 3rd child of Elmer and Troy Hinton)
Curtis, Happy New Year to you and your Family, I was just looking at the site and saw your reply, thank you. My Dad May have some memories of Frank Norwood, he has mentioned that name in conversations. I will ask him more on my next phone call to him and Mom. My Grandpa Blas used to run his sheep there on your Grandpa’s place in the early sixties. I have fond memories of being there for different things, the docking of tails, casturation of the ram lambs, marking them for shipment, shearing, my Grandpa Rivera and my Great Grandpa Jose Jaramillo, my Grandpa Rivera’s father in law would be there doing the knife work. Families helping Families, your Grandpa Elmer overseeing and doing the counting. Another memory was that large dirt water tank usually had fairly clean water and many kids used it as a swimming hole. Just lots of fun memories of Encino. I can also be reached via my cell, 5758386001. I am retired and I still try to get to Encino as much as possible. Having been born in Encino in 1957, I actually got to see some of the last of the hay days of that little town. Your Dad and my Dad were classmates I’m sure. My Dad was born in 1933 and his mind is still pretty sharp. His older brother, Jose Elijio Lucero is still alive and his mind is still pretty sharp. I will ask him too about any info on Frank Norwood. Thanks again for the reply and don’t hesitate to call me, recollecting the life and times in and of Encino, a special place to many, but this Encino son is Damn Proud to be from Encino, NM.
Mr. Curtis Hinton, had been awhile since I had looked at this blog and remembered about you asking about Frank Norwood, my Dad seemed to recall that he was a chef/cook. He had worked for the schools in the cafeteria for a short time and then maybe at the Rio Pecos Truck Stop. He is buried in the Negra Cemetery, east of Encino 5miles and about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile south of Highway 60. I actually was at his grave on Tuesday of this past week, Oct. 12th. I posted a photo of his headstone on Find A Grave.
Cemetery is in pretty bad shape. Mother Earth is slowly starting to reclaim her sacred ground. My wife has a cousin in Roswell, whose wife is related to you. Her cousin’s name is Chancey Dozier, his wife Lauretta is your cousin. Small world isn’t it. Chancey’s mom Judy and my wife Cindy are first cousins. If you haven’t been in that area in some time, there are wind generators everywhere, from Willard to Santa Rosa to Corona and all in between. Well, Curtis hope this helps your inquisition a little about Frank Norwood. Take care, Marty Rivera, an Encino born son and Damn proud to be from Encino.
Curtis Hinton I knew your dad John and I was in the same Class as Herman. I still have some copies of the Encino Enterprise. I lived in Negra but went to school in Encino. Graduated in 1956. I remember Frank Norwood . He was a bachelor and he did a lot of carpenter work around Encino My dad had two different stores on the West side of town My mother was Hallie Williams and I have a painting of The original Encino Fort. Dated 1936. She is the one who painted the murals in the high school gym. They were done for the graduating seniors of Encino. Highschool. She did almost one a year back in the 40s and fifties Marty I probably knew your dad. I remember an Ismael revira and Adan Revira. My dads name was Ollie and my name is Windell Williams. Hooray for the old Encino Wildcats.
Hi Windell and thanks for the comments about Encino, my dad, and others. You would have graduated the year I was born and my first “real” memories of Encino was in the summer I was 5 years old (1961). By then our family was living in Gallup and that summer that my little brother was born, and my sister and I spent in Encino. Oh man – what memories I have! And all good ones!
I didn’t know about the murals your Mom painted. I would love to see any photos you have of them.
Thanks again for the memories. I miss not having Dad around to talk about those days and posts like yours and Marty’s help make fill in the blanks. Take care and I hope to hear from you again in the future.
My wife and I traveled past this little town last week. We wondered how it must have started, and when the railroad must have been established. So nice to see this article and to verify what we figured was the early history of this village. I would love to take a metal detector with permission, and see what history can be revealed.
So sad to see a once vibrant town filled with happy people return to the earth as it is now. I am sure that there are many happy memories surrounding this interesting spot.
My parents Juan b Baca and Estefanita Cordova were raised in Encino. My dad graduated from Encino high. Juan and Estefanita married in Encino may 1943, then moved to portales, nm
Is it ok to explore there? I’ve passed through on several trips to Santa Fe and have been very curious.
I would ask a local first. Always get permission to explore, especially if using a metal detector. I bet the train depot would yield many great finds.
I grew up in Clovis, NM and passed by Incino many times. I had was drafted into the army in October , 1968 and for some reason as a combat engineer was assigned to The Army Casualty Division in Washington, D.C. I was The final person in line processing death certificates, letters to next of kin, and Servicemens Group Life Insurance for soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. I did this from July 10,1967 to October,1968. This included Sargent Sam Tenorio who was killed in Vietnam and was from Incino. He had a wife and children and I have always wondered how life turned out for them. If anyone knows I would appreciate knowing.
Mr. Maudlin, my name is Marty Rivera, I was born in the village of Encino, NM. Both sides of my Family were from Encino, the Blas Garcias’,
the Jose Riveras’ are my grandparents. The Garcia’s had the store in the forth picture in the blog, the store was known as “Garcia & Sons Mercantile”, the door to the right in the photo was the front entrance to the home, and next to it was, “The U & I Bar”. The house and bar are no longer standing. The Sergeant you mention in your post was very well known to our families and to the village. Sam Tenorio was not married, but was engaged at the time of his death. His siblings are still very much alive, as is his mother. I see them periodically, I was just at his grave two months ago. He and his father are buried side by side, his Dad was also a veteran of WWII. His youngest sister is married to my cousin. I was just turning a teen when Sgt. Sam Tenorio was killed, he used to go deer hunting with my Grandpa Rivera, my Dad and uncles. I remember being out there in the north of Encino and amazed at how this young man out walked all of my kinfolk. He made a mark in my life that I feel indebted to keep his memory alive by making sure of his impact in so many lives. So not to take anything away from you and what you did, thank you just know that we have been truly blessed by Our Men and Women in Uniform. They are why we can do what we do. Sincerely, Marty Rivera, an Encino born Son and Damn sure proud of that!
I can be reached at email@example.com or 575 437 7520 if anyone reading my comment has any information about SamTenorios family. Thanks
Thank you for the history. I just drove thru Encino for the first time and loved the old Adobe buildings.
My grandparents were Albert and Hallie Williams. They ran the Williams Mercantile and she was an artist. She painted the murals on the gym walls. They also had a ranch south of Negra just west of Encino. I visited there many times growing up, and remember going to the Methodist Church. I have some memories of the mercantile from the 60’s but I was very young. My mother Carrie Lindsey has some pieces of plaster with the mural on them. She also has some pictures of the paintings. I don’t know if there anything left of the murals.
I just moved to Encino a couple weeks ago! I bought a lot on the west end of town to rebuild, restore, customize, and eventually run a Air BnB artist retreat out of…this article is so Key, helpful in just knowing a little more about this hidden gem I now call home
It was nice to hear that someone will be moving to this wonderful little town. I foresee a reawakening for Encino, and more people wanting to be there as it slowly grows back to it’s heyday! A well advertised B&B is a perfect spot on this long road.
I would have loved to see a sign up the road a few months ago as I traveled thru that advertised a nice B&B that catered to artists. May I suggest a “family style” art colony B&B? you never see children entertained this way in this kind of setting….
My very good luck to you, and as I ramble thru again, I will look for any progress in your endeavors!
you will love Halloween there ! I went to Elementary there. Tom and Fanny were the admin for the schools when I was there. My family was the majority of the school having 5 of us attending in the late 70’s. The people are still down to earth. I don’t live there but visit when I can. My mom had a restaurant there while we were in school and it was super busy all the time.
Are you still living here? I’m considering buying some land there. Do they have electricity and water? Contact me at Leslie Ames in Tyler, Texas on Facebook
We just drove through Encino today and I want return and explore more. How is the b&b project going?
Hey Rachel, we were driving thru this town and wanted to know the history and literally had the same idea you did. Can I ask how’s it going there with the artist retreat? How amazing!
I’m enjoying reading all these comments about this town and all the amazing stories. What a rich history and such a privilege to keep it alive and create new history!
My daughter and I are the return leg of a cross country loop visiting colleges back east and had the fortune to drive through Encino not 4 hours ago. It struck me how at some point it was a thriving little town. I just spent some time googling what I could and truly hope to make it back from the Bay Area of California some day to find it revitalized. Best wishes to Encino, New Mexico
I drive through this town sometimes and it’s just a modern day ghost town. Wish I could see places like this in their Hay Day. Population has gone down to 82. I’ve never stopped their. Vaughn has nice gas stations. I don’t know if there’s any businesses there now. Hard to see that town ever thriving again.
This posting is a request for information–in about early February of this year a house fire is supposed to have occurred in Encino New Mexico and a resident of Encino lost his life. His name was Richard Sandoval. I have searched obituaries in many papers in that area and I am not able to find any information regarding this event. If you have any information could you contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lorenzo P Davalos, the name Richard Sandoval actually rings a bell in connection with Encino. Let me see if I can look into it a bit. In the meantime, I have some posts on Encino at the
City of Dust Facebook page and a comment there might also get some information.
And I apologize for the delay in responding. I’m afraid your comment got past me for a bit. JM
I drive through Encino on Hwy 285 when I drive to Albequerque from Roswell a few times a year. If I make a stop in the area it’s always in Vaughn. That’s the case for alot of motorist traveling Hwy 285. I’m always up for stopping for some good food in small towns but I have never seen anything advertised along the highway. In the good ole days before tgere ever was a Motorola brick phone. Small town stops like that had some appeal as a stopping point to stretch the legs and let kids burn off some pent up energy from a long road trip full of “Are we there yets” these days all kids need is a charged up smart phone and they good to go. Encino is just a small representation of what’s happening to alot of small towns/villages across the USA. I think Encino would be a good place to host a homesteading workshop.
Shane, what you say is certainly the truth. There was a restaurant in Encino that was trying to make a go of it recently, The Encino Firehouse and Mercantile. They filled the inside of the restaurant with local photos and memorabilia, and I heard the food was great. I was always hoping to pay a visit, but it never worked out. Now, sadly, I guess I won’t get the chance as they couldn’t make a go of it in the long run. Such a common tale, unfortunately. But I do like Penny’s Diner in Vaughn!
Here’s the remaining evidence: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47024-d10335829-Reviews-The_Encino_Firehouse_Mercantile_and_Deli-Encino_New_Mexico.html
Safe travels! John
Lorenzo P Davalos, the name Richard Sandoval actually rings a bell in connection with Encino. Let me see if I can look into it a bit. In the meantime, I have some posts on Encino at the City of Dust Facebook page (e.g., https://www.facebook.com/cityofdustnm/posts/905975806217656) and a comment there might also get some information.
And I apologize for the delay in responding. I’m afraid your comment got past me for a bit. JM
My Grandparents lived there until 1967 or 68, I would go in the summer with my mom and brother and visit them, I remember going and watching movies at the Fire Station. I love reading about the people memories of living there!! Would love going back again.
I passed through this very quaint town on Veterans Day 2021. I stopped to relieve my dogs at the city main building and library. I met a wonderful gentleman named Timothy who runs the library and was kind enough to let me inside. I learned a little bit about the history of his decision to move to Encino and found this town although seemingly disappearing very quaint.
RC Dillon was my great grandfather and yes the RC Dillon Company building is still there but by the looks of it not for much longer! The store front faces south however on the west side of the building underneath the RC Dillon Company lettering that is very faded it is easier to see Atlas Tires. The building is south of HWY 60 at the NW Corner of Main and Railroad. Email me for a picture.
Eric Achen, thank you very much for your comment! It’s great to hear from RC Dillon’s great-grandson! Since I wrote that piece I actually did manage to track down the RC Dillon Company building and get some photos. I should probably update the post! The building was indeed in somewhat rough condition. But I was really happy to finally find it, and just where you described! However, I’d still love to get your photo, and, if you like, I can send you the three or four I took, as well.
I’m not able to contact you directly through the comment form, but I can be emailed at: jmhouse(at)cityofdust(dot)(com).
Thanks again! JM
My Great-Grandparents homestead was 11 miles East of Encino on Hwy 60. They had 25 sections of land, 5 sections for them and 5 sections for each child. The closest town was Encino and I have been there many times as a child. I remember Gov. Dillion and the store that we used to frequent. There was a large stuffed buffalo head hanging on the wall, that just facinated me. I remember the post office where I would go with my Grandmother to pick up the mail. My Grandfather and my Dad built a Shamrock gas station on the East side of town, then later added a cafe. The last time I was there it was still standing and used for storage. The Ferguson home was right next door to the West and a large warehouse type building to the East. I remember a large machine that a crop was ran thru, probably beans. There used to be a large house to the East of that on the North side of the Hwy, where my Uncle Woody lived. My Grandparents are all buried in the Encino Cemetary.