Chloride got its start in the late 1870s by accident. Harry Pye, a mule skinner, was hauling freight through the area for the U.S. Army when he found some "float" that he thought might be silver ore in a creek bed. He had the rocks assayed and found they were rich in chloride of silver. Pye kept his find a secret until his Army freighting contract expired in 1879. With two companions, he returned to Chloride Canyon, built a cabin and staked a claim. Within a few months the Pye party was attacked by Apache Indians and Pye was killed.

The word got out that there was a rich silver strike and by 1880 miners had flocked in and a tent city sprang up. Land for a town site was withdrawn from the public domain and surveyed into lots, blocks, parcels and streets. Chloride (after the type of ore found there) had been selected as the name for the new city.

By late 1881, Chloride had eight saloons (another was added in 1884 when the bank failed and instead became a saloon), two mercantile stores, butcher shop, a hotel, boarding house, assay offices, livery stables, a candy store, drug store, law office, a Chinese laundry and a millinery store. Also the U.S. Government had established a Post Office in the Pioneer Store. In 1882, the Pioneer Stage Line ran into Chloride and a newspaper, called The Black Range, was established by Mr. Beckett. The newspaper was printed in the upstairs of the Pioneer Store. It was reported that the new city had at least one, and probably more, brothels. The town grew quickly to about 3000 hard drinking, hard working, hard rock miners. Because of the scarcity of women in town, the "city fathers" offered a free building lot to any single women who chose Chloride as a place to live. The same report states that a building lot would be awarded to the father of the first child born in Chloride, provided he could prove he was the father!

Chloride died as fast as it had grown when the Silver Crash of the mid 1890s occurred. By the start of the new century (1900) the population was only about 100 and continued to decline. Chloride has become a quiet little village, a haven for its retired residents, and a source of pleasure for its interested visitors. Approximately 30 of the original 300 plus buildings remain today in various stages of disrepair, from derelicts to restored beauties.
Attractions along Wall Street (the main street) are the Pioneer Store, now a museum as an authentic 1880s mercantile, and the Monte Cristo Saloon & Dance Hall, now a gift shop and gallery featuring local artists. Other facilities for tourists/visitors include a rest area with picnic tables, the Apache Kid RV Park with full hookups and the Pye Cabin, restored as a vacation rental.

Chloride is just 40 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences via Hwy 52. The museum and the gallery are open daily from 10am to 4pm. For more information contact 575-743-2736 or montecristogallery@windstream.net

Region:
SouthWest
Phone:
575-743-2736
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