Santa Rita

Jose M. Salas


By Cheryl Smith Kemp

On July 25, 1944, with 160 hours of B-24 Liberator tail-gunner training under his belt, but no combat-flying experience, Jose M. Salas was picked to fill in with a crew for a flight from a United States base near Torretta, Italy, to Linz Austria.

“It was a very rough mission. We had a lot of enemy planes hit us,” recalled Salas, who was still a teenager at the time. “There was about 50 or so airplanes shot down that day. … I had six fighters shooting at my tail.”

Elena Escobar Tafoya


By Katie Woody

On the side of a mountainous bluff in Grant County, N.M., a nun kneels in prayer every day, wholly vigilant and never wavering. From dawn until dusk, she can be seen with her head bowed, hands clasped in silent meditation. The Kneeling Nun, however, isn’t a faithful woman, but a large rock formation that casts its gaze across the Santa Rita pit mine.

William Raymond Wood


By Rosa Imelda Flores

William Wood was "born in space," his reference to the little mining town of Santa Rita, which was in the hilly terrain of southwestern New Mexico.

Santa Rita was excavated for the valuable copper ore lying under it until it was completely destroyed, Wood explains. And today, only "space" remains; the open-pit mine dominates.

"The mine gobbled down the town," Wood said.