This week’s featured Southwest book is Outlaws & Outcasts: The Lost Cemetery of Las Vegas, New Mexico, by Ellen S. Rippel:
Outlaws and Outcasts. They lay undisturbed and forgotten for almost a century--until a backhoe driver digging for gravel made a gruesome discovery. A hastily-assembled group of students, guided by an intellectually curious professor, had only one week to document the unearthing of the large, 19th century graveyard. Who was buried in those unmarked graves? What had they done to be cast out from society?
Filled with stories of early outlaws and fascinating historical insights, Outlaws and Outcasts chronicles a spellbinding and little-known saga from New Mexico. For those who love history, archaeology, or quirky stories from the Land of Enchantment, this book is an intriguing summary of what occurred in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1972. Outlaws and Outcasts: The Lost Cemetery of Las Vegas, New Mexico recounts the accidental unearthing of graves in a gravel pit. Included in the narrative are examinations of historical burial practices and customs, and a search through the scarce literature on events specific to the existence of the cemetery.
|A coffin handle, pictured in the book|
Review: This is a well-written and enjoyable account of an unusual piece of New Mexico history. In many ways, it raises more questions than it answers, as we have no way to know for sure who the dead are or why they were buried there. But pondering the question is great fun. The lively anecdotes and fascinating facts about burial practices, archaeology techniques, and local customs add to the charm. Whether you enjoy Southwest history, spooky tales, quirky facts, or just good storytelling, this book does the job. Black-and-white photos of some of the uncovered objects make the stories that much more real.