Known for the desirable mining towns, in the early 1800’s New Mexico had families flocking to this new state. Longing to find treasures like silvers and golds, this state also has many farming communities that seem to fall silent all at once with no explanation. This made many towns “ghost towns”. Not only did the towns up and die, the straight up vanished. Over the years many people have come up with theories of how this happened, and what exactly happened. Today, there are over 400 ghost towns in the state. Many only have a few foundations and occasionally a piece of equipment left behind. Here are a few of the must see Ghost Towns in New Mexico.
This town was founded by William H. Cline who moved his family from Missouri around 1851-1852. The first building was built on top of an old Indian mound which is why it got its name. It has been said that the reason the town died out so quickly was because they were not able to keep their water supply running due to lack of funds. Also, when the railroad came through in 1881, the train tracks ran right next to the main street where most businesses were located. When the trains went by, business dropped off dramatically. After the last resident died, the town slowly fell apart until today you can still visit some of the buildings.
The Cerrillos Mining Company began operations in 1870. They mined silver ore and lead ore. The company eventually became one of the largest producers of both metals in the world. By 1880, the population reached 1,500 residents. However, after the Panic of 1893 hit, the mine closed down and never reopened again. A fire destroyed much of the town in 1912. There is now little evidence remaining of this once thriving community. Visit this community or lack of, to see the remains of what once was a booming area.
In 1871, Madrid was established as a stop along the Santa Fe Trail. The town grew rapidly during the late 19th century. At its peak, Madrid boasted three hotels, two churches, four saloons, six general stores, five blacksmith shops, ten restaurants, and several other small businesses. One of these businesses was the Madera Mine, which operated between 1902 and 1914. During World War I, the mines shut down and the town’s economy collapsed. The post office closed in 1927, but the school continued operating until 1943. Most of the original structures remain standing today. You will be amazed by the size and beauty of the ruins.
One of the oldest communities in New Mexico, Golden was settled in 1776. Gold was discovered here in 1848 and within 10 years, the population increased from 100 to 2,000. Unfortunately, the discovery of gold caused many miners to flock into the area. Soon, the town boomed and flourished. But, just like Elizabethtown, the boom ended abruptly. Like many others before them, the mines dried up and the town faded away. Nowadays, visitors can explore the remnants of the town including homes, schools, cemeteries, and even the church!
Located near the Rio Grande River, Lake Valley was originally called “Rio de los Peces”. Settled in 1850, the village thrived until about 1900. With the arrival of railroads, the number of settlers decreased significantly. Eventually, the entire settlement disappeared. Only a handful of houses and barns remained intact. Some of the stone walls surrounding the site date back to the 1700s.
Known as one of the largest ghost towns in New Mexico, this city has many remains, yet all people are gone. The city almost feels like it is ready to be used again but no one is showing up to stay long term. Cuervo was one of the many railroad towns. It benefited from its locations as it ran along Route 66. Once the interstate was constructed, it led people right through the town leaving the town simply empty.
No matter what brings you to New Mexico, weather it’s the authentic food, diverse culture, or even the ghost towns, you will not be dissapointed. This state brings nothing but beauty, adventure, and even a little bit of hidden history and mystery. We hope to see you soon in one of the many ghost towns here in New Mexico
Featured Image Credit: By Nick Fox