The Criswell Range and Bell Mountain as seen in winter (mirrored). © 2007 - 2012
© 2007 - 2012
© 2007 - 2012
© 2007 - 2012

Latest Criswell News

PieTown, NM - September 22, 2007: COG Summer News Update
By: Criswell Owners Group

It was a busy summer here in Pietown and out on the Criswell too. In addition to starting and completing our first cabin construction project and spending 2 or 3 days a week on surveys, construction and grading projects on the Criswell, COG has also been busy improving our maps and our cabin design techniques.

As if that wasn't enough to keep us occupied, getting the kinks worked out of manufacturing, working out prices and devising some way to deliver cabin kits to isolated parts of the Criswell all required our time and attention too. In addition, we knew -- as some of you noticed -- that our new site still needed finishing touches as well. Finally, there was planning for the Pie Festival and the COG annual meeting to keep us entertained when we got bored.

Trying to keep up with all those projects at once explains why our site has been quiet for the past few weeks. Simply put, we've been busy either starting or putting out fires elsewhere!

We're pleased to say COG made solid progress on all those fronts over the past 90 days. In fact, if you look around a bit, you'll find some of the results here on our site. For starters we published the summer issue of Cattleguard Newsletter here yesterday. While there will be an update added in a few days, the basic newsletter is done. The same newsletter will go out in the mail for what we hope is the very last time next week. For those who want a printed copy of Cattleguard, we also posted a printable Adobe PDF version in our PDF Gallery.

In addition to publishing Cattleguard early here, we also managed to work out pricing for the Criswell Cabin kits and now know exactly how to compute expansion costs and add-on prices as well. You'll find updated base prices and construction costs in our shopping cart pages. If you hadn't guessed, the prices listed there originally represented 'SWAG's (Scientific Wild Ass Guesses) by our webmaster who was ready to build and test our shopping cart weeks before we were ready to give him prices. That's why the prices he used to build and test our shopping cart seemed high to many visitors. We hadn't had the time to work out "real" prices when he was building the cart. The prices in our cart now are more realistic than his 'guestimates'. You'll like them better too.

We also added a new feature to our site that got overlooked in our initial planning. You'll find we now have a new Guest Book where members, visitors and friends can post kudos, compliments, stories and feedback. We invite you to use it to share your Criswell stories with us and with other members too. You can also feel free to leave messages "on the wall" there to friends and acquaintences you've lost track of.

The Guest Book is designed to let visitors reply to the posts of others and it groups related messages together so everyone can follow the conversation. It also includes lots of other useful features that our tech-savvy webmaster insisted on. So, with luck it should let members post freely while helping us keep out viagra vendors, spammers and porn merchants too. It is reported to be 95% effective in allowing friendly posts to appear immediately while preventing spammers from posting junk on sites like ours. Time will tell, we suppose. To be honest, those risks hadn't even occurred to us. So, we're glad to have someone managing our web effort who is wise enough to help us avoid such issues from the beginning.

On other fronts, we're pleased to say we now have a custom-built trailer designed from the ground up to let us deliver complete cabin kits out to the Criswell in just one or two trips. That should lower the costs of cabin delivery quite a bit over the long term. Since we've already sold several cabin kits to Criswell landowners, that specially designed trailer will soon be getting lots of testing in the real world of the Criswell.

After months of work, study, struggle and lots of trial and error, we're proud to say we've managed to hone our mapping abilities to a fine edge. As a result, we are now able to locate and isolate the corners of any Criswell parcel and provide usable road and topographic maps for any property in less than an hour rather than the many hours required earlier. We won't bore you with the details of how much time, energy and money we invested to get to this point. We'll just say there were many times over the months when we wondered if we'd ever figure out how to do it. But the good news is we can now pinpoint the corners of any Criswell parcel within a couple of feet without ever leaving our office. Armed with that information, it's now relatively easy to drive out to the Criswell and find and mark the corners of a property.

On the roads and driveways front, we've kept both our grader and dozer scraping and plowing away this summer as we tackled road improvements, driveways and lot-leveling projects for a number of Criswell landowners. We've gotten better with these tools; and were disappointed to have to leave them parked on several days during New Mexico's August - September rainy season. Next spring we hope to be able to keep our "power tools" operating at least 80%-90% of the time. So if you expect to need grading work done around your parcel next year, it would be a good idea to email or call us soon.

And then there was the Pie Festival...

We planned weeks ahead for Pie Festival Weekend. In fact, we were already placing ads in local media featuring the first Criswell Cabin by late July. To help us out with providing information, our webmaster even created a special CD-based copy of our site that would run on a laptop without the need for a telephone line and delivered it to us on the morning the Pie Festival started. On Saturday and Sunday we welcomed 40 - 50 individuals and couples as visitors to our Pietown model cabin. We answered a seemingly endless stream of questions about cabin and construction costs, add-ons, options and other related topics. Although we'd have loved to see 100 visitors or more, when we considered the Pie Festival itself was much smaller than in past years due both to a lack of Pietown volunteers, a fall in the number of vendors participating, etc. we were very pleased with the results we saw. The impact of fuel prices on New Mexicans' ability to travel and attend such events has been felt statewide this summer. As it turns out, we've had several cabin sales since the event that can be directly attributed to Pie Festival showings and there are still several other potential sales pending. So, we'd say our model cabin showings during the Pie Festival have very satisfactory results already!

That's all the news that's fit to print from the Contiental Divide. For more details and other stories, be sure to read the Cattleguard too!

PieTown, NM - June 18, 2007: COG Launches New Web Site
By: Criswell Owners Group

After months of struggling with our old web site, which as you may have noticed had some significant limitations, Criswell Owners Group decided in May, that it was time to throw out both the baby and the bathwater and hire a professional web designer to help us replace our old site. Our top priorities were that we be able to replace our old site and get a new and much more powerful one up and running on the web ASAP. For this high-priority project we picked Greg Platt, a 40 year computer pro from Socorro who has been designing and building state-of-the-art sites for 15 years. Though based in Socorro, Greg and his oddly-named Web Witchcraft Publishing (Their motto is "We make magic happen on the web!"), is also designer and webmaster for several other powerful and impressive sites across New Mexico and around the world.

After describing what we needed done, we asked Greg if he could do the work, and were pleased to hear him confidently say, "Yes!" At that point, realizing our former webmaster had sometimes taken months to complete what we thought were relatively simple changes, we asked, "How soon?" His answer was 30 days. That's when we explained we really needed to have our new site up and running in a week! In the end, we "met in the middle" and Greg promised that if we'd write the content he'd do his professional best to get our new site up and running within 10 days!

And so, the race was on...

Little did we realize exactly how much work we had committed ourselves and Greg to do in such a short timeframe. But it is day 10 now and -- believe it or not -- we're putting the finishing touches on the new web site. We're still working on the last few pages of copy here, and Greg is adding pages and features furiously -- nearly as fast as we can finish the copy and send it to him. So, with luck, another day of work, and some cooperation from the Almighty, it appears we may actually be up and running with our new site on day 11!

If you're reading this article, we made it and you're seeing the finished results!

If you happen to have an urgent web project of your own, Mr. Platt can be reached by phone at 575-838-0907. You can also contact him by email at In addition to our site, Greg is designer and webmaster of Steppin' Out New Mexico's site (, Western Motel's site (, Gair Linhart's and many other state-of-the-art sites as well. He probably has a few magic tricks left up his sleeve!

PieTown, NM - June 18, 2007: Criswell Cabin Construction Test Near Completion...
By: Criswell Owners Group

As if redesigning and rebuilding our whole web site in less than 2 weeks wasn't enough to keep us busier than a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest, the COG home office has also been involved in another high-visibility project for the past few weeks... namely, the construction of the very first Criswell Cabin on location near our office in PieTown. Our goal with this project has been not only to demonstrate the feasibility of the cabin-kit itself; but also to determine whether one unaided individual could assemble the cabin alone.

This Cabin was sort of an accident. It was designed and built because the building where the Pie Town Post Office is located, is old and difficult to keep in repair. The contract with the U.S. Post Office extends into 2012, so it seems pertinent that the building will have to be rebuilt.

Though Pie Town does not have any rules or ordinances that dictate a theme for buildings, the property owners would like to keep this building in its same style. The interim plan was to build a temporary building that could be removed easily after the existing Post Office building was rebuilt.

Some unexpected legal and financial problems got in the way of that grand endeavor; and the decision was made to enlarge the Post Office space and make some repairs instead.

In the meantime, construction of this new building was already under way. So the plan then was changed to see if this building could be built in small enough sections to be put on a small pick up truck and transported to the very remote Criswell.

A few small adjustments were made. The lumber was cut to size, packaged in small kits, loaded on a small Toyota pick up and driven a few hundred feet down the road to where the building was put together.

The idea was to find out if one old man could build a cabin like this out on The Criswell.

The answer turned out to be NO.

But, we did determine that two people could do it very easily if they have the right ladders and tools.

Many Criswell property owners have asked if they could get cabins to their property. Up until now, for the most part, the answer had been only if they can get a road built for deliveries of materials.

However, by constructing this building we have demonstrated that if you can get a four wheel-drive truck to your property, you can put a cabin on your property too.

The Criswell Owners Group has made arrangements for cabin kits to be built and packaged in Pie town and delivered to any accessible site.

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© 2007 - 2012

© 2007 - 2012
© 2007 - 2012