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December 2023

Questa  •  Red River  •  Cerro  •  Costilla  •  Amalia  •  Lama  •  San Cristobal

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5 years in review; McCall’s favorite stories

Questa del Rio News’ recap of the best stories of the past five years, under the leadership of Editor Lou McCall.

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1. Proposed Highway Improvements at Questa Light, By Priscilla Shannon-Gutierrez, April 2018
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YOq0Ibtb8OxJFP4GEwF_zE_Lt6BtCxlT/view?usp=sharing_eil_m&ts=6440a260

This was the first of our popular April Fools stories, a tradition we continued for the first five years of publication. People still talk about the shock of this article, appearing on our front page in our third month of publication!

2. Courtesy Photo Christopher Columbus signature, c. 1493

2. Of Columbus, Crypto-Jews and El Río Colorado, Parts 1 & 2
By Priscilla Shannon-Gutierrez, December 2018/January 2019,
https://questanews.com/december-2018-pdf/ https://questanews.com/january-2019-pdf/

In our first months of publication, we were contacted by a history writer in Santa Fe, Priscilla Shannon-Gutierrez, editor of the Old Santa Fe Trail newsletter. She loved our paper and asked if she could submit stories about local history in our area. We love our history so of course we said, “Absolutely!” We are so impressed with everything that Priscilla has written for us and this two-part series is one of the most memorable pieces we have published. Part 1 in our December 2018 edition was a cliffhanger and our readers couldn’t wait for our January issue to read Part 2! Many of our readers did not know that Christopher Columbus is now widely believed to be of Jewish origin and his trip to the New World was a search for the Holy Land. The author did a lot of research and offered evidence that most of the crew that came over on the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria were also Jews. Those who stayed settled in the Caribbean, mostly in Mexico, mixed with Indigenous peoples and eventually integrated into Catholic culture. Strong links to their Hebraic traditions survived. Some of these conversos, as they came to be known, eventually settled in Taos County, N.M. and Costilla County, Colo., where much of this series is focused.

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3. Questa Mine Series, Parts 1-5, By Martha Shepp and many others, March-July 2022, https://questanews.com/questa-and-the-questa-mine-part-1/

The Questa Mine has shaped the identity of this community. Martha Shepp embarked on the task of sharing its history with our readers. It turned out to be an ambitious project. Thank you, Martha and everyone who helped with this 5-part series.


The landscape around Questa, Red River, and Taos, like many parts of the west, is marked by a cultural history of mining. When hiking, even in what are now protected Wilderness areas, it’s not uncommon to come across remnants of prospecting pits, mine shafts, or old mining equipment from early in the previous century.

For a long time, the “Moly” Mine WAS Questa. Its other cultural, economic, and social aspects became pale background figures. The mine is in the timeline of Questa, for sure, in a big way. It grew to become the largest mine in the Rio Grande watershed and has over 100 years intertwined with Questa history. By 1926, it had become the second largest producer of molybdenum in the world (after the Climax mine in central Colorado): An amazing legacy!

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4. #Black Lives Matter in New Mexico, By Caroline Yezer, July 2020,
https://questanews.com/july-2020-pdf/

The Black Lives Matter movement sparked questions of racial justice and inequities that were felt around the world by all peoples. In New Mexico and in Taos County, the historical landscape of injustice centered around colonization by the Spanish.

“…only by publicly acknowledging the past and making restitution for injustices can societies overcome those legacies of violence in the future. Coming to terms with our past and making amends for it builds more peaceful and resilient societies. Are the diverse people of northern New Mexico ready to discuss our past discriminations and their legacies in the present?”

Dr. Caroline Yezer was a professor of Cultural Anthropology and moved to Taos County and is now pursuing her passion for pottery. Her doctoral studies included research on indigenous peoples, human rights, the war on drugs, and social movements.

5. Photo by Douglas Carr Cunningham

5. Questa and Beyond: Airstreaming, By Vanette Harris, September 2019,
https://questanews.com/september-2019-pdf/


What if you retired, sold the home you had lived in for 42 years, got rid of most of your stuff and opted for a simpler lifestyle with freedom to live affordably. Liberation! Vanette Harris shares her story of how she and her husband David became full-time Air-streamers who spend half their year in Questa.

6. Photo by Lita Mead

6. Cerro’s Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918, By Deborah Archuleta-Moreno, September 2020,
https://questanews.com/september-2020-pdf/

When the COVID pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, most of us had never seen anything like it. Our grandparents may have been alive to witness the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic which devastated populations all around the world. Nowhere in our area was harder hit than the community of Cerro. History writer Deborah Archuleta-Moreno, who grew up in Cerro, heard stories from her family and dug deep into the history of the 1918 flu outbreak and its local ramifications.

7. Photo by Carrie Leven

7. Esther Garcia, The passing of a legend, By Carrie Leven, February 2020
https://questanews.com/february-2020-pdf/


Esther Garcia, lifelong resident of Questa and forceful advocate for the things she believed in, passed away on Jan. 5, 2020, leaving an historic legacy. “She was quite a lady,” said her brother Max Ortega, former longtime fire chief for Questa. “She is going to leave a big hole in our hearts and our community.”

This story about Esther Garcia was reprinted with permission from Remarkable Women of Taos, 2012, a book by Nighthawk Press. Although we did not author this article, the entire February 2020 edition was a tribute to the memory of Esther Garcia. The community of Questa and surrounding areas have much to thank this truly remarkable lady.

8. Tyler Smith and Katy Swan

8. The Legend of the Lone Moose, By Katy Swan, November 2022
https://questanews.com/the-legend-of-the-lone-moose/

This story broke in Questa and was featured on network news, both in New Mexico and in Albuquerque. Locals Tyler Smith and Katy Swan could hardly believe their eyes, or their camera, when they spotted a solitary moose along Highway 522. The story went viral and was taken down from social media after local hunting groups got serious about killing it. There are a lot of layers to this story and readers are affected on many levels. It begs the wider question, is climate destruction causing disorientation in wildlife and their natural patterns?

9. Photo by Brandon Gonzales

9. Questa Cheer goes to London, By Lou McCall, September 2019
https://questanews.com/september-2019-pdf/

Of all the outstanding athletic achievements of the Questa Schools, it is the Questa High cheerleaders who have put Questa on the sports map. By 2019 Coach Kathy Gonzales had been leading the team to victory for 15 years, she herself was an award-winning cheerleader at Questa High. She set a tradition that is being continued by current coaches Maria Medina and Angel Medina, who brought the team to another state championship in 2023. In July of 2019, five members of Questa Cheer were voted the best in the country to join the All American Team. On December 26, members of Questa Cheer left for London to perform in the New Year’s Day Parade with the All American team. What an amazing experience for our home team!

10. Photo by Daniel Hutchison. Dr. John Newhall ‘Bud’ Wilson

10. Living a Life of Adventure and Service: Bud Wilson, By Daniel Hutchison, July 2021
https://questanews.com/july-2021-pdf/

By now, many of our readers have heard about the death of Dr. John Newhall “Bud” Wilson, whose life of adventure and service made this world and especially our local communities a better place. Read about his life here and his obituary on page 26 of this issue. ​​

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11. Costilla-Amalia Reunion brings families back to their roots, By Sara Martinez, July 2019
https://questanews.com/july-2019-pdf/ AND follow up article: It rained, the love shined! By Sara Martinez, August 2019 https://questanews.com/august-2019-pdf/

The popular Families of Costilla and Amalia, New Mexico Facebook group grew to over 2100 members, who decided it was time to celebrate with a regional reunion. The two communities, along with sister communities of Jaroso and Garcia, Colo., came together for a truly memorable occasion.

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12. The Clothing Industry And Environmental Sustainability, By Jonathan Hutchison,
April 2022, https://questanews.com/the-clothing-industry-and-environmental-sustainability/

Who knew that fast fashion had such a devastating impact on our environment? What began as a simple question about how much brand new clothing ends up in landfills turned into a multi-part series and a multi-faceted view of what “lookin’ good” has come to mean. Join Jonathan Hutchison (who admitted that fashion was the last thing he was interested in) on a journey of discovery behind the magic curtain of the fashion industry.

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13. Bataan Prisoner of War Valdemar DeHerrera turns 99, By Celina Rael Trujillo, November 2018
https://questanews.com/november-2018-pdf/

Costilla native, Valdemar DeHerrera is a national treasure, beloved by fellow veterans, friends, family and community, right here in Taos County. He is now 102 years old and spends winters with his daughter in Southern New Mexico. His story during WWII, is that of a true hero. We love you Valdemar!

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