(Columbus, New Mexico)
Do you know where the last place in mainland America that was attacked by a foreign nation?
In the early morning hours of March 16, 1916 Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa and 500 men raided the tiny border town of Columbus, New Mexico and killed 18 Americans - the first invasion of the United States since the War of 1812. General John "Black Jack" Pershing was sent with 10,000 soldiers to bring Villa back to American soil but after 11 months the "Punitive Expedition" came home empty-handed. Apparently harboring no ill will, when a 60-acre park was created in 1959 it was given the name of the infamous invader.
Pancho Villa State Park features a short and easy nature trail that highlights area cacti. The botanical garden is outstanding with more than 30 different species of desert plants, including ocotillo, yucca and agave, mesquite, purple cholla, snowball cactus, polka dot cactus, barrel cactus, staghorn cholla and jubilee trees. Also in the park is a one-mile exercise loop trail.
Park trails pass through the remains of Camp Furlong, which Pershing used to launch his counter-invasion. the park has also acquired several exposition-era vehicles, many of which made their first appearance in war in the pursuit of villa, including the airplane. Inexperienced truck drivers were known to yell "whoa" rather than apply the brakes in a mis-guided attempt to stop their vehicle. One 1915 Dodge was sprayed with gunfire in the Villa attack.
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