The Bibos Appendix I

The Impact of the Frontier On a Jewish Family: The Bibos
by Floyd S. Fierman

Originally published in print by the Southwest Jewish Archives, Fall 1988.

Nathan Bibo and the Railroad
[This article by Nathan Bibo was written on the back of an old stove brochure. The date, derived from Nathan Bibo's calculations, was 1922. The catalogue advertises Orbon Stoves "Good as Gold."]

As far as I can recollect, it was in February 1878. From a Concord coach which was driven up to in front of my home in Bernalillo, alighted a number of gentlemen, I think about five of them, who hurriedly enter into my store, then located on the spot now occupied by the Mallet family. Among them was Mr. A. A. Robinson, then the Chief Engineer, and Lewis Kingman, the Chief Surveyor of the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fd Railroad, which was then appro Trinidad, Colo.

On the many surveys down the Rio Grande, and passing Bernalillo, I met both of these gentlemen quite often, and more so, because I had the U. S. Government Agency, and also the Agency for Numah Raymond of Las Cruces, who took the contract to carry the U. S. mail from Santa Fé, N. M. to El Paso, Texas. Besides I happened to be the Postmaster of Bernalillo.

The station was located on the West Side of the main road in Bernalillo, and the premises covered a large part of the land now known as the La Salle ranch. While the traveling public found there fair accomodation and also fair meals, I kept open house, at my own home for the many friends I had, and also for the many distinguished people who were anxious to have a square meal and a good room to pass a night on their travels by coach or carriage, and have their team taken care of, to complete their journey. - -

Mr. Kingman was in his best years a very conservative quiet gentleman. He made quite a number of surveys, competing with the Denver and Rio Grande who also made 2-3 surveys down the river, posting Bernalitto. Of course,. Mr. Kingman was a very conservative man, and I don't think that any of his survey staff would know "his business."

In the many chats I had with him I found him to be a man of high culture and expressing his ideas in a most logical unassuming way. Mr. Robinson seemed then about 35 years old, and while a very young looking man of preposessing appearance. He was business from toe to top, and quick in his ways of expressing himself, or determining his plans. -

He was of a most refined appearance and represented the American type of a man of the world - full of pep and energy.

That February afternoon when they with their party arrived, Don Francisco Perea, Exdelegate to Congress, was sent for, and they entered into a private consultation with him. It was about 5 p.m., when they all left for up-town, to visit old Don José Leandro Perea. - What happened there, Francisco Perea told me excitedly later on. But the fact is, that the whole delegation returned within 45 minutes after they had left my place, and while Mr. Robinson never spoke a word, I could see on his pale face and also on the expressions of contempt uttered by some of the party that they must have met a most unexpected and unpleasant disappointment.

All I could find out at that time, that some planned calculations, or propositions had been shattered.

Immediately after their return to my place, their coach was ordered to proceed to Albuquerque. What had happened that memorable February afternoon, was the setback for the town of Bernalillo and the making of the new town of Albuquerque. Col. Francisco Perea told me after they had left, that the town of Bernalillo had been designated as the Main Division point on the A. T. and S. F. R. line -and that a construction of a transcontinental line, due West from Bernalillo had been contemplated, and that he had seen all the maps, also location of a Railroad bridge Y2 mile above Bernalillo, and that construction of the line West would be pushed ahead, at same time, as the R.R. down towards El Paso. Colonel Perea told me that his uncle José Leandro Perea had placed an impossible price on the land, required by the Chief Engineer for division purposes.

As a matter of fact some of the land on the upper road for which $425. was asked is not worth more than $2-3 - up to date. The appearance of Bernalillo today represents about the scenes which I would have seen in 1878. Forty four years have elapsed and one of the best located towns in the picturesque valley below the Sandia Mountain Range, was kept to decay - by the selfish and iron will of a powerful potentate of those days. -

To-day every crumbling abode is plastered up again into a habitable abode, to shelter the many new-comers. Along Main Street particularly is the present business section. Rooms are put in shape for business and large show-windows are already replacing the decaying abode front from before.

The Porter Bros. of West Virginia, owners also of the Saw Mill in Albuquerque are preparing ground for a very extensive plant. Their Saw Mill at Bernalillo will it seems rival some of their largest in the U. S. The nearby timber of the Jemez Valley mountains will furnish an almost inexhaustible supply. All kinds of other industries will be the result.

The old proposed R.R. of 1878 will be built in 1923, on the branch to the timber line - and be pushed towards the rich coal fields of Western Sandoval County as soon as practicable thereafter. So the dreams and projects of those gentlemen who left so disappointed that memorable February afternoon will be realized so many years after and I have to thank providence and the Almighty who permitted me to live to my old age of 79 years and bestow upon me the good memory to give you this little fine story of what happened then.


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