Ten federal agents waiting at the railway museum are demanding that the train continue onto its last stop in Campo and be cleared through customs before anybody can get off, period. Otherwise, says the voice over the walkie-talkie, "a couple hundred people will be in big trouble." A frustrated conductor argues for a bit and then gives in.
Until 1940, Campo was the center for Customs and Border Patrol. To avoid U.S. “line-riders,” smugglers came to the store in darkness. They traded “gold, silver, whiskey, you name it,” says Challberg, for manufactured goods. Luman’s arrest, for rustling cattle across the border, shows that the Gaskills sometimes worked the night shift in Mexico.
The Gaskills prospered in Campo. They opened a two-story hotel August 16, 1875, and their wood-frame general store, built over Campo Creek,also served as an Army telegraph office, town meeting hall, post office, and tavern. They even held dances, where locals did the quadrille and the Virginia reel under a sign demanding, “No profanity or spitting in here.”
"Well, anybody -- this happened when they were on their other place -- who will walk out to the mailbox bare-ass naked with the schoolkids going by on the bus.... And a couple of them rode up and down the road on a motorcycle bare-ass naked. They run around naked and go to an old tree they've got out there on their property or up on a big rock and they chant, 'I am God, I am God.'
The 18-wheeler was on its way to pick up a load of sand at the rail depot on state Route 94, a couple of miles east of the intersection of Buckman Springs Road and 94. Though the truck was involved only indirectly in the collision, the incident brought to a head the growing frustration among Campo and Lake Morena residents with the increasing presence of sand trucks on Buckman Springs Road.
After it crested, the fire started "running pretty hard" east along the ridgeline. "We were coming along holding it with engines," Scully says, "and we were actually being very successful until right around that area there where the scraper is. It had a little bit of wind coming this way [northeast], and it just drove it right across. The engines couldn't stop it."
"They couldn't give a flying flip about the community. The roads coming in here can't really even support Campo Hills. The main travel route in and out of here is Buckman Springs Road." Buckman Springs Road, ten miles long and two lanes wide, is the most direct route from Campo to Interstate 8. "When I leave, if it's during normal daylight hours, I go out to La Posta Road [parallel to Buckman Springs, but four miles east] because I can't stand going up and down Buckman anymore."
Debbie says she'll hold it all for me till I come back. When I do, three hours later, they still have my food. They heat it up, and I get into one of the most social hours I've had for yonkers, with everybody coming in for their Friday night take-homes. Fred, back from working on the roads out here; Craig, who's with Campo Fire and Rescue; and a psychologist on the run from city life, Dr. Hobi. She's waiting for her deep-fried chicken breast bucket. "I'm a vegetarian," she says. "But tonight I'm going to pig out and watch trash TV. I do this once in six months."
The Campo Minutemen are a small group made up primarily of retired veterans who work in cooperation with the Border Patrol to prevent illegal immigrants and drug runners from entering the United States. With the aid of night-vision binoculars, electronic sensors, and off-road vehicles, the Minutemen act as an extra set of eyes and ears. Most of them carry or at least own firearms.