Searching for a new preservation project in 1998, HSR purchased a building in Las Cruces built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the winter of 1937-38 to serve as its education center. The Civilian Conservation Corps Camp BR-39N Schoolhouse is now listed on the State Register of Cultural Properties and will be considered in the near future for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Because of our belief that a well-educated and involved public is the best protection of our cultural heritage, most HSR endeavors interweave preservation, research, and public education. HSR archaeologists have captured the imaginations of youngsters in the public schools by recreating images of the excavated past. Teachers in 28 different New Mexico schools, using a curriculum designed by HSR, report that their elementary school students are more interested in learning basic math and science concepts when presented within the context of archaeology. And high school and college students find their cultural awareness challenged when confronted with current historic preservation issues taught in curriculum developed by HSR.
The delight of discovery has been shared not only with the young but also with the young at heart. Involvement and training of volunteers is central to HSR's philosophy as an educational organization. Over the years various research projects have educated the interested public. Volunteers with metal-detectors helped to find the 900-acre Hembrillo Battlefield, site of a great conflict in the Victorio War and now recognized as one of the premiere historical sites on White Sands Missile Range.
Other volunteers excavated the Oliver Lee ranch house in Dog Canyon near Alamogordo. Their efforts provided valuable information that facilitated the transformation from a dilapidated structure into a hstoric gem by the New Mexico Parks and Recreation Division.
Still more volunteers investigated the burned remains of Alexander McSween House in Lincoln, gaining a greater empathy with those under siege by the Dolan faction during the July 1878 conflagration known as the Lincoln County War. HSR archaeologists and Civil War buffs dug through sand dunes to identify and preserve the lost Fort Fillmore cemetery, outside Mesilla. The Cañada Alamosa Project is a current example of HSR's preservation efforts through archaeological research and public education.
Born in an act of imagination and faith, HSR has not only survived but established deep roots in New Mexico. In 1994, in recognition of its distinguished contributions to Southwestern archaeology, HSR received a Heritage Preservation Award from the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division.
As colleagues and comrades talk of retirement, the spirit that stirred our founders continues to inspire us. Fueled by equal parts of ingenuity, faith, and perseverance, energized by volunteers and fortified by community support, HSR is looking forward to the years ahead as it continues to passionately embrace its role in understanding, interpreting, and preserving the past while teaching others about our shared history.