CLIMATE: See Roswell
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Year long
Highlonesome was never more
than a little store with one gas pump. It was owned by Bill McCombs
who was a brother in law to Bob Crosby the worlds famous steer
roper who had a ranch near by. Most of the area ranchers got
their mail delivered to Highlonesome and it was the meeting place
for that corner of theworld. Bill McCombs had two daughters and
two sons. Strawberry was the eldest and finally bought the BobCrosby
ranch at Highlonesome; Bill Jr. who ran the Diamond A Ranch Co; Iola, who still lives in Roswell and Barbara who now lives back
east. Somewhere. Highlonesome became no more in about 1942 when
Bill built a new home in Kenna and moved his family closer to
High Lonesome started out on what was the main road to Roswell from Clovis way back when. At Kenne you would turn due south for a distance of about 35 milesand when you could see the rail road mountains you would turn back west for another 50 miles or so to Elkins and then turn back a little south and west to crossthe Pecos river and there you were in Roswell.Nothing left there now except the rail road mountains. They are worth looking at. When you see them they will need no introduction. You will know that you havearrived at the rail road mountains and pretty close to Highlonesome. Some of the families in the area back in the 40's were Bob Crosby, Bill McCombs, Mr. Vessels, Jones, Berryhills, McDowell, Lloyd Mooney..and a lot more. Submitted by: Samuel W McWhorter
I was born and raised in NM and remember Highlonesome . We were on our way to Roswell this morning Sept. 1st, 2013, and stopped at Haystack mountain recreation area,which is where Highlonesome was located. We pulled through a cattle guard on to the old road and I was telling my wife about the station that was there at one time. We went about 20 yards and there set the foundation of the station. So there still is something there. We left there and went on down to Acme and Frazier NM. At Acme we found old bricks with company names and towns engraved in them,also was lucky enough to find an old brick chisel. Frazier still has old school building and cemetery.
High Lonesome is a name that has shown up many times in New Mexico. The name has been applied to several ranches, some hills and a lot of windmills. The first use of High Lonesome in New Mexico is believed to be the High Lonesome Ranch in Lea County.
In northeastern Chaves County, some 25 miles northeast of Roswell on U.S. 70, is a high point on the western edge of the Llano Estacado known as High Lonesome. It is at the top of the Caprock Escarpment and overlooks the Pecos Valley.
High Lonesome is indeed a lonesome place now, but for decades from the 1920s through the 1940s, it was a thriving roadside business where the proprietors also raised a fine family. Communications towers and maybe a jackrabbit or two are the only occupants of the place now. Like so many rural landmarks, High Lonesome now exists only in memory.
Otis Shields originally owned the High Lonesome area; he leased it to Tom Finch, who put in a filling station. Finch finally bought the place on Jan. 29th, 1928, and sold it the next day to Thomas Reed Murrell and his wife Juanita Sims Murrell.
High Lonesome as acquired by the Murrells was a five-room house, which included the store, two bedrooms, kitchen, living room and two screened porches. There were cisterns on the back porch and in the back yard. Other features were a garage, a shed, a barn for the chickens and milk cows, and a Delco light plant powered by a gasoline generator. All of this was on the north side of the highway, but there were three tourist cabins on the south side. They called their place High Lonesome Service Station.
The history of High Lonesome is tied closely to Acme, NM which was about five miles west of High Lonesome. In 1906, the Acme Gypsum Cement Company built a mill where they produced plaster and cement blocks. Indeed, part of the High Lonesome building was made of the Acme blocks. Acme at times had as many as 100 residents, and it had both a post office and a school. (The old rock schoolhouse still stands on the north side of the highway slowly deteriorating with time) *The mason that built the school also built many rock houses in Roswell which are to this day occupied and have a noticeable star incorporated into the construction.
In 1929, there was a problem securing a permanent postmaster in Acme following the tenure of Henry Olthoff, with Otis Shields serving as acting postmaster from July 6 to Oct. 7, 1929. According to New Mexico postal historian Jim White of Farmington, Reed Murrell became the postmaster of Acme on Oct. 7, 1929. A point that none of the Acme historians mentioned is the Murrell moved the Acme post from Old Acme to New Acme that is, five miles up the road to High Lonesome. Exactly when this move was made has not been determined, but believed to be sometime in 1929.
Unfortunately Reed died suddenly on Aug. 5th, 1935 leaving Juanita with a three year old son and expecting another child. Juanita's brother, Howard Sims, came to live at High Lonesome to help care for the children and operate the business until he was drafted into the Army in 1941. He was deployed to the Philippines where he died at Bataan.
Juanita's records show that she was very involved in the cattle business after the Great Depression with herds sometimes numbering as many as 250 cattle from 1938 through about 1948.
Juanita's son Tom recalls life at High Lonesome as mostly uneventful. During the Dust Bowl years, Okies and others fleeing the drought stopped at High Lonesome to get water for their car radiators and have flats fixed.
On other occasions, caravans of Gypsies came by in wagons pulled by horses and mules. They would camp across the road from High Lonesome, butcher chickens to cook, and eventually make their way into the store. Reed kept a close eye on the Gypsies, not only because it was his store but also because he was a special deputy appointed by Sheriff John Peck.
*Most of this information was provided by Tom Murrell, my Dad.
Courtesy Reed Murrell
Courtesy Reed Murrell