The old Cloverdale store waits at the end of the road

CLOVERDALE

      I hated gym class. Every school day for five years, my ectomorphic frame was subjected to various forms of state-approved torture and abuse, all in the interest of preparing my body for the rigors it would face in the "real world." About the only "real" things I walked away with were a gash in my knee from falling off the trampoline and the bad memory of a shower-room incident involving my naked body and a wet towel. I'll spare you the details.

QUICK STATS

  • COUNTY:  Hidalgo
  • LOCATION:  Approximately 35 miles south of Animas on NM 338 and C1
  • POST OFFICE:  1912-1943
  • NAME ORIGIN:  Named for clover in the fields of the property
  • RATING: Three ghostsThree ghosts
  • GNIS Info & Map

     Fortunately, human nature being what it is, even horrible experiences like gym class can be made tolerable with a little imagination. When "leap frog" was the sport du jour, our butt would "accidentally" get kicked when our buddy was the frog and we were the frogee. When it was time for football, we discovered that pointing down the field to random spots and yelling "There, over there!" can really throw a quarterback off. And, as everyone knows, failure to complete the obstacle course in the requisite amount of time means having to wear your underwear backwards for the rest of the day.

     With the rope climb, however, we hit a snag. What to do to make climbing a rope interesting?  The joy of getting to the top wasn't enough. The rope had to become a means to an end. There had to be a reward for reaching the zenith.

     That's when we developed the idea of leaving notes to each other at the top of the rope, inside the tile ceiling. I would write something, usually "Are you eating with anyone for lunch?," climb the rope with the note in my teeth, then pull the paper out at the top and leave it inside the tile roof. After shimmying down, another friend would climb up, retrieve it, bring it down in his teeth, then answer the question. Okay, it wasn't a communications system that would give AT&T anything to worry about, but at least we got a payoff for our efforts.

     Consider County Road 1 from Animas the rope, and Cloverdale the payoff. County Road 1 goes on for quite some time, but there's a definite reward at the end: an old building, once the store of the diverse community of Cloverdale. It's a beautiful structure, visible from miles away. Built in 1918, it is now used by a local ranch as a place to store hay.

     Cloverdale began around 1889, when the Victor Land and Cattle Company purchased the nearby Cloverdale Ranch. Other ranches sprang up, and the community became known as Cloverdale. While it existed, Cloverdale's post office was the southernmost one in New Mexico. The town had a population of about two hundred people.

     Of course, the old Cloverdale store is more than a building, it's a note from those who have gone before. But if you're not real big on metaphors, never fear: there are real notes along the way to Cloverdale. Someone with a great sense of humor has made sure you have a good time on your drive from Animas to Cloverdale. Trust me, you'll enjoy it.  What exactly am I talking about?  Sorry, you'll have to climb the rope and find out for yourself.

     Oh, and if you don't make it there and back in three hours...well, I think we both know what the punishment will be.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS

(click on the thumbnail image to see a larger picture)


County Roads 1 and 2 end up
in Cloverdale, once the
site of the southernmost
post office in New Mexico.


The old Cloverdale store
now stores hay.


A cow suspiciously watching my
journey gives new meaning
to the words
"Cattle Guard."