Survey of Logging and Railroad Campsites: Russia and Marcia
Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico, 2004
by Linda S. Cole, FS Archaeologist
Construction of the Alamogordo and Sacramento Railroad from Alamogordo to Cloudcroft in 1898–1899 immediately allowed for lumber operations to begin in the 9,000-foot-high Sacramento Mountains of southern New Mexico. El Pasoans and other regional residents and tourists soon discovered an alternate use of the mountains as an escape from the desert heat via the tourist cars on the trains. High Rolls and Cloudcroft became tourist destinations, but the trains that took the tourists also delivered logs to Alamogordo. Russia and Marcia were isolated, semipermanent logging, sawmill, and railroad camps south of Cloudcroft. Russia’s heyday lasted from 1903 to 1907. Marcia was a logging headquarters beginning in 1921 through to the 1940s, with repair facilities for trains located there as well. By 1942, railroad logging operations ceased in the Sacramento Mountains.
PIT volunteers helped FS archaeologists use Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies to survey and record major structural features at the different sites. The data were compiled and analyzed with GIS through a process called “geo-referencing” and compared to historical aerial photography. We also conducted interviews with some local area old-timers to personalize and round out our snapshot in time. The combination of field survey, comparison of our survey results with the historical record, and the oral histories provide an excellent account of life in the mountains and mining boom towns around the turn of the century. Thank you to all of the PIT volunteers for helping to preserve this important chapter in our nation’s history.