Owner selling New Mexico town outside historic frontier Army base
A town near a decommissioned New Mexico military post where troops once fought Apaches and where Buffalo Soldiers and Navajo code talkers were based is up for sale.
The 18-acre plot in Fort Wingate, N.M., about 130 miles west of Albuquerque, was put on the market with an $11 million asking price earlier this month, says a listing by Mark Price of Realty One Group Concierge.
The facility was originally an Army post established in 1868 as part of a treaty with the Navajo, and it served as a military base until 1912.
The anonymous seller’s family purchased the town in 1946, and the current owner serves as landlord, fire chief and police chief, Price told the New York Post. He has lived there his entire life, Price said.
“He has never been outside the lines of the town, and the family wants to spend the rest of (their) time traveling,” Price added.
The town is located off historic Route 66. It features RV lots with 80 hookups, 27 residential units that are “100% occupied” and an original trading post that includes a cafe, post office and gas station.
Film studios have approached the seller about turning the town into a movie set, Price told the Post. The new buyer would decide whether to allow the residents to remain, but the ideal buyer would want to take over the business and rentals, he said.
The former military base, next to reservations of the Navajo Nation and the Zuni Tribe, is now part of the Fort Wingate Historic District, which has more than 400 ruins that can be traced to those tribes, according to a National Park Service webpage.
Four years after the ill-fated 1864 relocation of the Navajo to the Bosque Redondo Reservation in a 400-mile journey called the Long Walk, the U.S. government allowed them to return and established the base, the NPS webpage says.
The soldiers there policed the reservation, and Navajo scouts operating out of the installation helped the military fight the Apaches, some of whom were incarcerated at the post.
In the 1870s and 1890s, Black soldiers of the 9th Cavalry and 25th Infantry Regiment, known as Buffalo Soldiers, were stationed at Fort Wingate.
Also in the late 19th century, it was home to two future generals.
Douglas MacArthur lived there as an infant when his father was an infantry commander there in the 1880s. A decade later, it was home to John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, who would go on to command the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe in World War I.
“This post is a S.O.B. and no question — tumbled down, old quarters,” Pershing wrote as a lieutenant posted there in late 1890, his second time, said an article in the New Mexico Historical Review. “The winters are severe — It is always bleak and the surrounding country is barren absolutely.”
After it was decommissioned in 1912, the site continued to serve a variety of military purposes until its ultimate closure in 1993.
It stored munitions during the world wars and became for a time the largest such facility in the world after 1918, the New Mexico Geological Society said in a published history from the 1960s.
It was also where the first Navajo code talkers reported for service with the U.S. Marines during World War II.
The town’s location near the historic sites, tribal lands and protected federal lands, including Cibola National Forest, make the property unique, Price said.
“Sitting down with the owners and hearing about the Buffalo Soldiers and the Navajo code talkers ... is what made me take on this project,” he said.