Schoolhouse in White Oaks


     Let's for a moment assume that all this mumbo jumbo about man having a dual nature - good and evil - is true. For every yin there's a yang, for every up a down, and so on. Now, let's say that that same idea could be applied to a town - and why not? A town is just a settlement of people, each of whom themselves posesses a good and a dark side, so why not, by extension, the community they create?


  • COUNTY:  Lincoln
  • LOCATION:  12 miles northeast of Carrizozo on NM 349
  • POST OFFICE:  1880-1954
  • NAME ORIGIN:  Named for White Oaks Spring nearby
  • RATING: Three ghostsThree ghosts
  • GNIS Info & Map

         Taken this way, the history of White Oaks makes a little more sense. It helps explain why, in a town with an opera house, three churches, drama clubs, a newspaper, literary societies and a beautiful brick schoolhouse (pictured above), drunkenness, killings and visits from Billy the Kid and other desperados were common, especially in the early years. And if the darker side of a town could somehow manifest itself physically, that must surely explain the debaucherous suburb, appropriately named Hogtown, that grew up outside White Oaks. White Oaks had the churches and drama clubs; Hogtown had the saloons and whorehouses.

         Continuing our theme, let's say that in the 1890s, a railroad is being built nearby, and the good side of White Oaks sees in it an opportunity to connect with the outside world, but the bad side sees only a chance to make money. So unfortunately, the bad side holds out for a tremendous sum for right-of-way rights and the railroad bypasses White Oaks and goes to Carrizozo instead, and White Oaks (and Hogtown with it) peters out.

         Does this mean that the evil side of White Oaks won out?  Maybe, but only temporarily, because the good side is clearly in evidence now. Just visit once and you'll be convinced this is one of the most stately and beautiful places in New Mexico. Not one but two elegant Victorian mansions, the wonderful school building, and a solemn and ultimately very touching graveyard named Cedarvale are some of the high points. Goodness has come to White Oaks to stay.


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

A gravestone reaches upward
in the Cedarvale Cemetery.

Evening descends on Cedarvale.