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The Montezuma Castle...along the Santa Fe Trail
If you drive north on Hot Springs Blvd. in Las Vegas 5 miles to Montezuma, a tiny village at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the imposing view of the Montezuma Castle set up on the hill above the town looms ahead.
In 1841, the Mexican government granted a Mr. Donaldson the land on which this castle would later sit. It was an inviting area because of the hot springs. In 1846, the land and hot springs was bought by the US Army. In 1862, the army sold the hot springs to OH Woodworth and in 1879, the Santa Fe Railway bought the land.
A company was formed in 1880 by the railway in order to build a castle to be used as a resort. Tracks were run to the castle in 1882. There were beautiful landscaped grounds and gardens with elaborate fountains. Unfortunately, the resort burned to the ground two years later.
Undeterred, the Santa Fe Railway contracted with architects to build an even more elaborate structure but only four months after it opened, another fire burned much of the upper part of the building. It was again rebuilt in 1886 and named "The Phoenix". However, it was never financially successful and was closed in 1890s.
After this point the castle was bought and used at various times by the YMCA, by the Southern Baptist Convention, by the Montezuma Baptist College, and until 1972, by the Catholic Church for a Jesuit seminary for the training of priests from Mexico.
In 1982, the property was sold again, this time to Armand Hammer. Prince Charles of England, then President of the United World Colleges, persuaded Armand Hammer to set up a UWC campus in the U.S.
The United World College system was founded after World War II with the purpose of countering nationalism. It was hoped that by bringing together 16 to 19 year old students from many countries, mutual understanding among those from different national religious, cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds would help to foster peace. Today Queen Noir of Jordan is the current head of the United World College system.
The Campus is open for tours at certain scheduled times conducted by the students.
You may also soak in the natural hot springs in Montezuma located on the campus but available to visitors subject the rules of the college.
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