Van Patten Mining Camp / Resort
Dona Ana Co., New Mexico
Van Patten Mountain Camp / Resort with Boyd Sanatorium - 1900
I would like to thank the original photographer who took these
wonderful color photos. I was given these photos through email from
various people and compiled them without the knowledge of, nor the
permission of the original photographer.
If the original photographer would kindly contact me, I would enjoy to
list him or her as the "Photo Credit" deserves (and get rid of this
disclaimer). I apologize for any copywrite infringement and do not
wish to be "sued" as I do all of this for free and for the enjoyment and
education of various "V.P." families throughout the country.
Disclaimer: Absolutely NO small print here !!!
Major Eugene Van Patten was an impressive man who lead a pretty interesting life.
A former Confederate soldier who served under General Stonewall Jackson, Col.
Van Patten married a half-Spanish / half-Piro Indian woman in 1865, and in 1872
they settled in Las Cruces, New Mexico. In the late 1800's, Col. Van Patten began
construction of the Van Patten Mountain Camp, a remote resort nestled deep within
the rocky heart of the Organ Mountain range.
A stageline from Las Cruces, 17 miles away, would carry the guests by stagecoach
along the rocky path up to the hotel itself. The stagecoach or wagon would then
return to the livery until needed. Milk cows, chickens, and a vegetable garden were
maintained in this location as well, to provide the fresh milk, eggs, and vegetables for
the hotel's dining room. In early 1900's, guests arrived at the hotel by automobile as
well as by horse and wagon.
The site of the resort is tucked into the rocky peaks at an elevation of 6,000 feet
(which is 2000 feet higher than Las Cruces). In it's heyday, the luxurious resort
boasted 2 stories and 14 rooms, dining and recreational facilities, and a gazebo that
functioned as a bandstand. The hotel was constructed of native rock and a mud
based plaster. Many famous people, such Pat Garret and Pancho Villa, stayed at the
Van Patten Mountain Camp. The mostly-intact building with the raised wraparound
terrace was the dining/entertainment hall, and the crumbling maze of walls behind it
are what's left of the rooms themselves.
A number of native Indians lived and worked at the resort. They tended the livery
and path, hand-carried buckets of water from the spring up to the hotel attached to
long poles balanced on their shoulders, and sometimes they even performed dances
for the amusement of the guests. In 1906, a unit of 18 rooms was added onto the
In 1915, Col. Van Patten came into financial difficulties. The hotel was closed, and
the resort sold to Dr. Nathan Boyd, a native of Illinois who had studied medicine in
San Francisco and practiced in Australia. The Van Patten Mountain Camp was not
destined for another lifetime as a recreational resort; Dr. Boyd had other plans for
the area, as a tuberculosis sanatorium.
In the early 1900's, Dr. Boyd was involved in a court case that would eventually
deplete his funds; the sanatorium was sold to a Dr. T.C. Sexton from Las Cruces in
the 1920's. It was intermittently run as a sanatorium and resort for several more
years. Nathan Boyd's son, Earl, bought the place back in the early 1930's and moved
onto the land, living in the Caretaker's house. In 1940, while Earl Boyd was away
serving in the military, the remote structures were subjected to heavily damaging
vandalism and looting by unknown parties. The place has been vacant ever since,
despite changing hands one more time before being acquired by the Bureau of Land
Management in 1988.