Ghost Towns in New Mexico

They are ghost towns now. But in the late 1800s, each had a moment of glory that blazed and died like a sudden flame. Most were mining towns, where men lusted after the earth’s riches – gold, silver, turquoise, copper, lead and coal. A few were farming communities that flourished for a time and mysteriously fell silent. Literally hundreds of towns not only died, they vanished.

By some estimates, New Mexico is home to more than 400 ghost towns – most are nothing more than a few foundations and some occasional mining equipment.

But traces of many linger on, haunting ties to days that used to be. They molder into oblivion, their shells of buildings like specters against the sky, these towns that witnessed some of America’s most romantic and rapacious history.

And if you listen, you can hear the names of fabled mines whispered on the wind: Bridal Chamber, Confidence, Little Hell, Calamity Jane, Hardscrabble, Mystic Lode, North Homestake, Little Fanny, Spanish Bar. If you look, you can read the names of legendary people written in the dust: Johnny Ringo, Russian, Bill, Toppy Johnson, Roy Bean, Butch Cassidy, Madame Varnish, Black jack Ketchum, Mangas Coloradas, Billy the Kid, James Cooney.

More than a score of these towns have enough life in spite of the ravages of vandals and weather to be interesting to the special breed of human whose eyes light up at the mention of them.  Quite a few towns have a number of inhabitants. Please respect their privacy. Many are on private property.

Find a Ghost Town to visit on our interactive Trail Map

Ancho (24 miles north of Carrizozo, Located west of the Lincoln National Forest 2 miles east of U.S. highway 54.)

“...In 1906, the Ancho Brick Plant supplied several tons of bricks which were shipped by railway to San Francisco to help rebuild the city after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.”

With the arrival of the railway in 1901 and the discovery of gypsum and clay, the Ancho Brick Plant was established and began producing bricks. The plant eventually grew to 16 kilns. In 1906, the Ancho Brick Plant supplied several tons of bricks which were shipped by railway to San Francisco to help rebuild the city after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. When Highway 54 was paved and rerouted two miles to the west of town, the brick plant closed its doors for good in 1921. That was a fatal blow to Ancho's economy. The town then began its slow decline. In 1955, the Ancho School closed its doors. Four years after in 1959 the train station closed, and in 1969, Ancho's Post Office shut its doors. Today the remaining local residents have restored many of Ancho's remaining pioneer buildings including the school and train station.

Getting there

Head south from Socorro on I 25, take the exit at San Antonio and head east on NM 380. At Carrizozo turn left onto NM 54, go 21.9 miles and turn right onto Co Rd 462. Ancho will be just ahead appx 3 miles.

Images Courtesy of John Mulhouse and City of Dust Blog

Cerrillos (about 28 miles south of Santa Fe on State Road 14)

“...Gold mining in the area surrounding Cerrillos is best described as hardscrabble”

The lore of the Cerrillos hills is rich with legends of mines, being worked there for a thousand year. Turquoise has religious significance to many Indian people, nearby Mount Chalchihuitl is known to have contained a great lode of the precious gemstone and stone tools found there seem to testify to the truth of the legends.  

Gold mining in the area surrounding Cerrillos is best described as hardscrabble until the big strike of 1879, when hard rock miners from Colorado struck a big lode. Cerrillos then became the center of the mining industry in the area that included Golden and Madrid, and encompassed gold, silver, copper, turquoise, lead and coal.

There are several shops and galleries, a post office, health center, premier riding stables and the Cerrillos Hills State Park with five miles of hiking trails. The Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum contains hundreds of artifacts from the American Old West and the Cerrillos Mining District.

Getting There

From Santa Fe follow the Turquoise Trail Hwy. 14 approximately 12 miles south of the NM Interstate 25 and Hwy. 14 Intersection. Make a right turn into Cerrillos Village.

From Albuquerque follow the Turquoise Trail Hwy. 14 approximately 31 miles North of the NM Interstate 40 and Hwy. 14 Intersection. Make a left turn into Cerrillos Village

Search Results

Chloride (five miles southwest of Winston off State Road 52)

“...The name "Chloride" was finally selected, after the high-grade silver ore found there”

The history of Chloride reads like the script for a bad western – silver strike, population boom, Apache raids, salvation by the militia, cattle versus sheep, tar and feathering, even bear attacks.

An Englishman named Harry Pye was delivering freight for the U.S. Army from Hillsboro to Camp Ojo Caliente in 1879 when he discovered silver in the canyon where Chloride is now located. After completing his freighting contract, he and two others returned to the area in 1881 and staked a claim.

The name "Chloride" was finally selected, after the high-grade silver ore found there. It became the center for all mining activity in the area, known as the Apache Mining District.

During the 1880s, Chloride had 100 homes, 1,000-2,000 people, eight saloons, three general stores, restaurants, butcher shops, a candy store, a lawyer's office, a doctor, boarding houses, an assay office, a stage line, a Chinese laundry and a hotel. 

Chloride and the surrounding area began to decline with the silver panic of 1893, when the country went on the gold standard and silver prices dropped about 90 percent. Today, about 27 of Chloride’s original buildings are still standing, including the Pioneer Store, which now serves as a museum. Main Street is lined with false front structures, as well as adobe buildings, some restored and some suffering the effects of time.

There are two cemeteries and the 200- year-old oak "Hanging Tree" tree still stands in the middle of Wall Street. About 20 residents, many of who are descedants of the original founders, occupy the town.

Getting There

Chloride is approximately 40 scenic miles west of Truth or Consequences.

When northbound on I-25, take Exit 83. Turn left on NM 181, then left on NM 52. Follow signs to Winston, then turn left to Chloride, two miles south west of Winston on all weather hard surface road.

When southbound on I-25, take Exit 89. Turn left on NM 181, then right on NM 52 and follow directions as above.

For more information and images please visit the links to the right.

Colfax (about 15 miles northeast of Cimarron on US 64)

“...Dawson is dead and gone, but Colfax, however clings to mortality.”

Colfax may be said to have ridden to prosperity on the coattails of Dawson in the late 1890s, when Dawson mushroomed as a coal boomtown. Dawson is dead and gone, but Colfax, however clings to mortality. It came into being on a spur of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway and once had a hotel and a number of other buildings, which can still be seen.

Colfax is another one of those towns that was highly promoted and short on delivery. The railroads and land promoters promised great farming, close to transportation (read the railroad) and mineral deposits in the early 1900's. Coal mining was nearby at Dawson and Cimarron was not far away. A post office was opened in 1908 and closed in 1921. A short life for a town near the turn of the century.

Getting There

Colfax is appx 12 miles northeast of Cimarron or 30 miles southwest of Raton on Nm Highway 64.

For more information and images please visit the link to the right.

Images Courtesy of Mike Sinnwell

Dawson (17 miles east of Cimarron on US 64 and A38)

“...On October 22, 1913, an explosion in the mine killed 263 miners plus two rescuers. ”

In 1901 the Dawson coal mine opened and a railroad was constructed from Dawson to Tucumcari and the town was born. The Phelps Dodge Company bought the mine in 1906 and increased development. Dawson went on to have its own newspaper, a theater, hotel, modern homes, hospital, baseball park, golf course, bowling alley and more. Dawson's high school basketball and football teams went on to win many awards.  On October 22, 1913, an explosion in the mine killed 263 miners plus two rescuers. Less than 10 years later, another explosion killed 120 men. Surprisingly though, the town didn't die, but rather went on until the mine was closed down in 1950. When the mine closed, Phelps Dodge sold the whole town, buildings and all, to be carried off to other locations. Today, the cemetery is about all that remains.

Getting There

Dawson is located about 17 miles northeast of Cimarron, New Mexico.

For more information and images please visit the link to the right.

Images Courtesy of Mike Sinnwell

Duran (54 miles southwest of Santa Rosa on NM 54)

“...Duran is not a true ghost town. It still has residents--probably around 35, in fact--but two of its most interesting buildings are long-abandoned.”

In February 1902, the El Paso & Northeastern Railroad finished the “Arrow Route,” a stretch of track between El Paso and Santa Rosa, where a connection to Leadbelly’s Rock Island Line awaited. Blas and Espiridón Durán, two brothers, owned wells in central New Mexico which could provide water to railroad work crews. So, the railroad built repair shops and even a wooden roundhouse in what became Duran. The railroad also turned the town into an important supply point for area ranches virtually overnight. Duran’s population probably peaked shortly afterward at 300 or so.

But the railroad eventually moved its operations south to Carrizozo and the roundhouse came down in 1921. Yet Duran remained important to ranchers and, when two-lane U.S. Highway 54 came right through the heart of town in the 1930’s, the increased flow of north-south traffic gave Duran another boost. This lasted until the 1960’s, when I-25 was constructed about 60 miles west, strangling U.S. 54 of travelers.

Duran is not a true ghost town. It still has residents--probably around 35, in fact--but two of its most interesting buildings are long-abandoned. One, shown above, is a two-story building made of buff-colored sandstone marbled with white. This was a general store and hotel. Badly faded lettering above the doors reads: “dry goods furniture hardware grocery & feed’s”. It’s still a beautiful building whose quaint façade belies a sinister and surprising history.

Getting There

From Tucumcari drive shouthwest on NM Highway 54. Duran will be appx 54 miles ahead and the highway runs right through town. From Albuquerque go east on Interstate 40 to Clines Corner's, exit onto south NM 285 in Encino turn right on NM 3 south. Go 14 miles to Duran.

There is a fascinating article regarding the history of Duran on the City of Dust blog written by John Mulhouse. Please click on the link to the right to learn more about this unique piece of New Mexico's history. The sinister history of the general store is explained there.

Images Courtesy of John Mulhouse's City of Dust Blog

Elizabethtown (five miles north of Eagle Nest on State Road 38)

“...Elizabethtown was the first incorporated town in New Mexico”

Elizabethtown began in 1866 with the founding of area gold mines and the Mystic Copper Mine. It was New Mexico's first incorporated town. Founded by the commander of Fort Union (north of Las Vegas, New Mexico), Captain William H. Moore, and named for his daughter, Elizabeth Catherine Moore. Nicknamed "E-Town," the town grew to over 7000 residents at its height of prosperity in 1870, and it was designated the first seat of the newly formed Colfax County. In 1872 there were only about 100 residents left as the mines dwindled, and the county seat was moved to Cimarron. The town revived somewhat when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad passed nearby in the early 1890s, making mining feasible once again. The village was also part of the Colfax County War. A fire took most of the town in 1903, and the town mostly died out by 1917 with the decline in the mines.

Not much is left of Elizabethtown – just a few stone walls of the old Mutz Hotel.

Getting There

It is located just off New Mexico State Road 38, between the communities of Eagle Nest and Red River. It is just east of the Carson National Forest.

Engle (17 miles east of Truth or Consequences on NM51)

“... In 1945 the US Government made the land east of Engle into what is now White Sands Missile Range for the purpose of testing the Atomic Bomb. ”

Once a small yet busy railroad stop, this historic living ghost town is now home to the headquarters of Ted Turner’s Armandaris ranch, a church,  a handful of houses and sits on the Northern Access Road to Spaceport America.

Engle began in 1879 as a stop on the Atchison Topeka Santa Fe Railroad where it was a crucial shipping point for miners and prospectors and served as a water stop.   It thrived for a few years as a setting off point and supply base for miners and prospectors.  It housed hotels, a general store and saloons.  When mining dried up in the area circa 1883 the town saw a decline until ranchers to the east began driving cattles across the plains in 1896, sometimes as many as 17,000 head of cattle.  At that time the railroad stop became an important point for shipping cattle and it was a popular place for cowboys to rest and enjoy some recreation at the saloons.    Shortly after the turn of the century nearby ranches suffered from overgrazing and drought, which in turn dried up the towns commerce.  However the building of the nearby Elephant Butte Dam between 1911 and 1916 saw a big revival with the towns population peaking at around 500.

From 1920, with construction of the dam well completed, the town once again struggled to survive and by the late 1920’s the population was just 75.  In 1930 a road was graded from Tularosa to Engle, briefly raising hopes of some kind of revival, however in 1945 the US Government made the land east of Engle into what is now White Sands Missile Range for the purpose of testing the Atomic Bomb.  This effectively left Engle at the end of a road that didn’t really lead anywhere.  By 1955 the Post Office was closed and now just a few structures remain.  One of those is an adobe schoolhouse, now used as a church that was constructed in 1909.

Today Engle is the headquarters of Ted Turner’s Armandaris Ranch and sometimes Bison can be seen nearby.  It also is one of the few places you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the historic Jornada del Muerto and is set to get a lot busier when spaceflight operations commence from Spaceport America.  The road from Truth or Consequences was paved in 2007 in preparation for construction at the spaceport.

Getting There

IMPORTANT: The nearest gas, food and accommodation services are located approximately 17 miles from Engle in either Truth or Consequences or Elephant Butte.  The road beyond Engle from Spaceport America towards I-25 to the South is unpaved and should only be attempted by 4WD vehicles.

Golden (10 miles south of Madrid & 15 miles north of Tijeras on NM 14)

“...Officially formed in 1879, Golden was selected as the center of the new gold-mining district and soon grew to support several saloons, businesses, a school, and even a stock exchange. In 1880, the post office was opened.”

Golden was inhabited by Native Americans and Spaniards long before American settlers came to the area. However, it began to boom when gold was discovered in 1825. Years before the California and Colorado gold rushes, the site of Golden became the first gold rush west of the Mississippi River.

Placer gold was first discovered on Tuerto Creek on the southwest side of the Ortiz Mountains and in the late 1820s two small mining camps, El Real de San Francisco and Placer del Tuerto, developed as a result of the mineral finds. The area remained quiet for decades until several large companies began to put money into the mines, bringing in numerous workers, and followed by many individual prospectors. It was shortly after these mining camps were formed that the San Francisco Catholic Church was built around 1830.

Just south of Tuerto, a new town called Golden was being formed, which soon absorbed both El Real de San Francisco and Placer del Tuerto. Officially formed in 1879, Golden was selected as the center of the new gold-mining district and soon grew to support several saloons, businesses, a school, and even a stock exchange. In 1880, the post office was opened.

But mining continued on a small scale until about 1892 and ranching continued to be a mainstay of the economy. In 1918 the Golden General Merchandise Store opened, which is the only business in town that continues to operate today. It is now referred to by the locals as Henderson General Store, giving credit to its owner.

By 1928, the population was so reduced that the post office closed and Golden officially became a ghost town. For years afterwards, its many abandoned buildings remained, tumbling down between its few remaining occupied structures. During this time, vandalism also took its toll on the town and its remaining structures, but a few crumbling ruins still provide excellent photo opportunities. Golden's most photographed building is the San Francisco Catholic Church, which was restored by historian and author, Fray Angelico Chavez, in 1960, while he was the padre of the St Joseph Church in Los Cerrillos. Across the highway, west of the church, are the ruins of another large structure, as well as mining remnants.

Getting There

Driving south From Santa Fe take the Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway through Cerrillos, Madrid and on the Golden. The Southern end of the byway stops in Tijeras at US 40.

Visit the Turquoise Trail Website

Hagan (East of I-25, beyond the San Felipe Casino north of Albuquerque and down a dirt county road heading towards Madrid)

“ the early 1930s the miners hit a layer of shale which soon widened, eventually choking off coal production. By 1933 the railroad, never profitable, ceased operation and was dismantled, and in 1939 the Hagan Mine closed down.”

In 1902 The New Mexico Fuel and Iron Company was established to develop coal mines in the locality. The name Hagan was chosen for the site in 1904, named after a local official of the AT&SF Railroad, no doubt to encourage the extension of a railroad spur to serve the mines. Initially, coal was hauled by wagon to the railroad main line at San Felipe. Work on the spur was begun in 1908 but was suspended within months, stalling development of the community of about 60 residents for a decade.

In 1919 a “gentleman entrepreneur,” Dr. Jean (or John) Justin DePraslin of New Orleans convinced investors to put up nearly $450,000 to develop the Hagan Coal Mine, including housing, mine buildings and a power plant. A further £300,000 was raised for a new railroad, the Rio Grande Eastern, and the line was completed in May 1924. As well as the coal, the railroad hauled brick and tile from a brick factory adjacent to the ruins of Tonque Pueblo, a few miles north of the town.

DePraslin developed Hagan as an ambitiously planned community intended for 500 residents. Over 100 adobe structures were built by adobero Abenicio Salazar of Bernalillo with a team of 100 laborers and 60 masons over a period of three years, in the pueblo revival style which was popular at the time. The town was well supplied with electricity and running water. Water was piped from a spring 2 miles away, to a reservoir above the town. The general store was a two-storey structure which housed a bank, post office, barber shop and pool hall as well as the general mercantile. An eight-grade school was set up to serve 70 pupils.

The town grew from 1924 to 1930 and the population peaked at about 200 people, mostly Italian and Slavic miners from the coalfields of Raton and Dawson, and local Hispanics from Madrid and Los Cerrillos. But in the early 1930s the miners hit a layer of shale which soon widened, eventually choking off coal production. By 1933 the railroad, never profitable, ceased operation and was dismantled, and in 1939 the Hagan Mine closed down.

Getting There

Only the foundations and a few brick walls of the power plant, general store, reservoir, and a few smaller buildings remain. The site is visible from Indian Service Road 844/Madera Road which follows the railroad grade from San Felipe, but the ruins are on private land owned by the Diamond Tail Ranch and are usually not open to the public except by occasional organized tours.

Call the Diamond Tail ranch for information regarding access to Hagan.

Hanover / Fierro (8 miles north of Bayard on NM 356)

“...The area was first mined and discovered by a German immigrant in 1841. ”

Mining was mainly Zinc and the big business was the Emerald Zinc mine built during World War one.  Copper mining also took place here. Much of the mining shut down for good in the 1970's. Many residence and buildings scattered throughout the trees and lining the Hanover creek bed. It is difficult to tell when you have left Hanover and reached Fierro.

In it's heyday Fierro boasted a movie theater, a variety store, and a pool hall. The pool room was owned by Sheriff Mack Minton who claimed he knew Billie the Kid. He also resented the fact that people called Billie a hero. In the 1920's a fire destroy much of the town.

Getting There

Hanover and Fierro are located just east of Sliver City. Get there by taking NM 180 north from Deming and turn right onto 356 in Bayard.

For more information and images please visit the links to the right.

Hillsboro (18 miles west of I-25 take exit 63 onto NM 152)

“...Today, Hillsboro is a well-known community of artists, writers and ranchers.”

Hillsboro was founded in April,1877, when two prospectors discovered a series of gold deposits on the east side of the Black Range Mountains along Percha Creek. Dave Stitzel and Daniel Dugan staked out the Opportunity and Ready Pay mines. A tent city quickly filled with over 300 miners, store owners, adventuresome women and children. As the area grew more settled, adobe and wooden structures began to replace the tents. By 1880 the town had four saloons, four grocery stores and a post office. Today, Hillsboro is a well-known community of artists, writers and ranchers. The community hosts the always popular Apple Festival, Christmas in the Foothills, community Christmas party and monthly music events.

Getting There

Hillsboro is appx 32 miles west of Truth or Concequences on NM 152.

Images Courtesy of Mike Sinnwell.

Search Results

Kelly (South of Magdalena off of US 60, ask locally for directions)

“...The town of Kelly New Mexico, which thrived here, was more than a mining boomtown.... it was home to it's thousands of citizens.”

The name Kelly came from Patrick H. Kelley who held a few of the claims. By 1884, Kelly Township was established with banks, churches, saloons, a clinic, and several mercantile stores, while Magdalena was established 3 miles north as the AT & SF Railway terminus to haul away the preciousores from these mines. The last residents of Kelly departed in 1947, and most of their homes were painstakingly hauled down to Magdalena.

The Kelly Mine headframe still proudly stands today as the sentinel of New Mexico's famous mining heritage. This headframe was erected in 1906 by Gustav Billing owner, being purchased from the Traylor Engineering Company of New York, which acquired this headframe in kit form from the Carnegie Steel Works of Passaic New Jersey after it was designed by Alexander G. Eiffel to be the state-of-the-art technology of that era. It stands today as a lasting monument to the men who toiled and sacrificed their brave lives for the prosperity of an emerging nation, towering 121 feet over the Tri-Bullion Shaft which drops nearly 1,000 feet down into a maze of over 30 miles of tunnels, all now closed, silent as the grave.

Getting There

Directions to find Kelly are somewhat sketchy. Please inquire locally for directions to find the town. The image below is a view from Kelly looking north towards Magdalena which lies on US 60, 28 miles west of Socorro.

Kelly -panorama -toward -magdalena

Lake Valley (17 miles south of Hillsboro on State Road 27)

“...Lake Valley became an important railhead and prospered until the silver panic of 1893”

Two and one-half million ounces of Silver came from lake Valley’s fabled Bridal Chamber mine. John Leavitt, a blacksmith who discovered the Bridal Chamber, was unable to work the claim he had leased from the Sierra Grande Company and turned it back in for several thousand dollars. Lake Valley became an important railhead and prospered until the silver panic of 1893. Two or three houses and a few other buildings remain today.

This town had the usual assortment of Blacksmiths, boarding houses, general stores and even a church. Of course, like many other towns the saloons dominated the main street. Based on the number of bottles left behind there may have been a few bootleggers in the area during the prohibition.

The Post Office closed in 1954 and the last resident passed away in 1974.

Getting There

Lake Valley is on NM 27, between Nutt and Hillsboro.  It is in Sierra County.

For more information and images please visit the links to the right.

Lincoln (57 miles west of Roswell and just south of the Lincoln National Forest)

“...The most widely visited state historic site in New Mexico is part of a community frozen in time ”

Originally called Las Placitas del Rio Bonito by the Spanish families who settled it in the 1850s, the name of the community was changed to Lincoln when Lincoln County was created in January 16, 1869. Lincoln county was founded by five cultures. First discovered and lived on by Natives, discovered again by Conquistadores, settled by Mexicans, then re-established by Anglo-Americans. It was named after Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln was at the center of the Lincoln County War, 1876-1879, and is the historical home of Billy the Kid. The village holds an annual festival in August featuring an open-air enactment of The Last Escape of Billy the Kid.

Getting there

From Ruidoso, take Hwy 48 North for 18 miles. At Capitan, turn right on Hwy 380 East for 12 miles

Images Courtesy of Mike Sinnwell

Loma Parda (30 miles, give or take north of Las Vegas)

“...Loma Parda became the town where soldiers could go for wild nights. Saloons, gambling, dance halls and women of ill repute put Loma Parda on the map”

Now essentially a ghost town, Loma Parda was forever changed when Fort Union moved into the neighborhood.

Loma Parda became the town where soldiers could go for wild nights. Saloons, gambling, dance halls and women of ill repute put Loma Parda on the map; especially if you were a soldier bored with your isolated existence at Fort Union. When a soldier went AWOL, it was half expected that he was still at Loma Parda either passed out or just too drunk to know where he was. Not all drunken debauchery was on account of the soldiers though; cowboys and teamsters from the Santa Fe Trail engaged in their share of the mayhem.

It was in the streets of Loma Parda that a cowboy on horseback grabbed a lady in the street, pulled her across the saddle in front of him, and rode his horse right into the saloon where he demanded that the bartender serve drinks to everybody. Then, when his horse would not drink, he pulled his revolver and shot the horse through the head. He retrieved the lady and left his dead horse on the saloon floor.

Loma Parda had a reputation it would never live down. It has a fair number of rock walls still standing, and is considered a ghost town, even though it is still occupied by a few souls. Once a vibrant community tucked down in this magnificent river valley, it was a place where legends were made.

When the importance of Fort Union began to fade, so did Loma Parda. The post once lasted until 1900, or nine years after the fort was abandoned. A few families kept farming in the area, but by World War II it had been abandoned entirely. The only bridge into town washed away in 1948 and has never been replaced. A footbridge now provides access to the town.

Shadowy figures have been seen roaming about the town ruins at dusk by tourists and locals. The stories here vary. Many say that the old townsite is haunted by the spirits of prostitutes who come down from Cafion de Las Pelones. Other reports claim that the ghosts are lost souls who lost their lives in the town sometime during its violent past.

Getting There

Driving north from Las Vegas on NM highway 518 to Mora at 26 miles turn right onto New Mexico 161. Go appx 14 mile and turn left and cross the cattle guard there will not be a sign. Loma Parda will be about 1.4 miles ahead. Check locally for road conditions. There are no services so be sure to have a full tank of gas and food and water.

Madrid (27 miles southwest of Santa Fe on State Road 14)

“...In the 1920s and 30s, Madrid was as famous for its Christmas lights”

Although Madrid still likes to consider itself a ghost town, it represents a unique example of resurrection. In the 1920s and 30s, Madrid was as famous for its Christmas lights as for its coal, and airlines used to reroute traffic during the holidays to show passengers the sight. Coal became important in the 1880s, but when the demand for coal diminished after World War II, long forlorn rows of identical company houses stood empty. In the 1970s, the sound of hammers could be heard throughout the town and now, Madrid is a creative community with more than 40 shops and galleries, several restaurants, a spa and museum.

Getting There

Madrid is loacted one hour north of Albuquerque and 30 minutes south of Santa Fe on the Historic Turquois Trail Scenic Byway, Highway 14.

Search Results

Magdalena (28 Miles west of Socorro on US Route 60)

Magdalena was known as the "Trails End" for the railroad/spur line which was built in 1885 from Socorro to Magdalena to transport the cattle, sheep wool, timber and ore. Thousands of cattle and sheep were driven into town (cowboy style) from the west, using the historic "Stock Driveway", aka "Hoof Highway." The original historic stockyards are still intact.

This historic Stock Driveway was used annually, from 1885 through 1916 when the driveway was officially designated by law through the signing of the "Grazing Homestead Act" and was continually in use through 1971.

The 125 mile driveway extended west to Datil, New Mexico then forked south toward Horse Springs and Reserve, New Mexico, while the other fork led to Springerville, Arizona.

The drive was 5 to 10 miles wide and covered 200 square miles. The peak trailing year, 1919, saw 150,000 sheep and 21,000 cattle pass the point around Ten Mile Hill.

The Civilian Conservation Corp., fenced the driveway in 1930, and drilled a well about every ten miles.

During the drives cowboys moved about 10 miles a day, and herders moved sheep about 5 miles a day, allowing them to graze as they went. Chuck wagons and relays of horses followed behind. Trailing gave way to trucking, and the last portion of the driveway was officially closed in November of 1971.

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene the "Lady on the Mountain" gazes down from the Magdalena Peak today as she has for centuries, keeping a watchful eye over her town.

Kelly Ghost Town

The "Ghost Town of Kelly," located just minutes from Magdalena, was in its day home to close to 3,000 people, with shops, doctors, saloons, churches, hotels and schools. Mining bought prosperity to the area in the early 1880's, but when the ore played out this town was slowly vacated, leaving a small whitewashed church, crumbling foundations, remnants of mine works and a cemetery.

With a visitor's pass you can still visit the Kelly Mine and just by chance you may come across a resident ghost.

Getting There

Magdalena is 28 miles west of Socorro on US Route 60

Visit Magdalena's Chamber of Commerce Webiste

Mogollon (nine miles east of Alma on State Road 78)

“...Today, Mogollon is home to a very few seasonal residents and a couple of business”

For nearly 60 years after the great gold strike of 1878, Mogollon had a reputation as one of the most wide-open towns in the West. Butch Cassidy and his crowd once headquartered there, and gunmen, claim jumpers and gamblers kept things lively. Not even Victorio and Geronimo, nor the troops sent in by the governor, could tame Mogollon. An estimated $19.5 million in gold silver and copper came from Mogollon’s mines. By 1909, Mogollon had a population of about 2,000 people who supported five saloons, two restaurants, four merchandise stores, two hotels and several brothels located in two infamous red light districts. It also boasted the Midway Theatre, a bakery, a photographer, a couple of doctors, and various other retail businesses. Today, Mogollon is home to a very few seasonal residents and a couple of business, but filled with historic buildings of the once rich mining camp that made millions during its hey days, survived numerous floods and fires, but still hangs on today despite its isolated location.

Getting There

Mogollon is appx 75 miles northwest of Silver City NM off of US 180. The town itself is a two hour drive north of Silver City surrounded by the Gila National Forest and Gila Wilderness. Make sure to get directions locally before heading out.

Monticello (25 miles NW of Truth or Consequences )

“...If you do not believe in ghosts, then what remains of the original school house might cause you to believe otherwise. ”

Located along New Mexico Highway 142, Monticello was originally named Canada Alamosa Spanish for "Canyon of the Cottonwoods" and was first settled by ranchers and farmers in 1856.  The town was renamed in 1881 by its first postmaster, John Sullivan, of Monticello, N.Y.

What stands in Monticello is mere of shell of its former glory days.  More than 1,000 families once lived in Monticello Canyon, which contains both Monticello and Placita, during its peak. Today, there are fewer than 100 families.  Some of the town's original buildings, including the old WPA school house and San Ignacio Catholic Church, still remain.

If you do not believe in ghosts, then what remains of the original school house might cause you to believe otherwise.  All that remains is the exterior walls and foundations.  Where students once sat and learned general arithmetic, trees and weeds now grow in their place.  Rumors circulate about the cause of the building’s demise, but the most commonly believed is that the school had burned down after a student's experiment exploded in chemistry class.

Down on the main town square still stands the town’s original church, which was first built in 1869 and served as John Sullivan's home.  The doors are usually left open for visitors to pop in and take a peak,  and Mass is still celebrated.  People say that on days when the Church is empty and quiet, you might be able to witness the "Monticello Light", a mysterious ball of light that once followed a local resident home.

Getting There

Please note that all properties of these two historic communities are private and there are no services in the area, so be sure to fill your tank with gas before venturing in.

Montoya (Just west of Tucumcari on Old Route 66)

“...Primarily serving the cattle ranches of the area, an old store, built of solid stone, carried goods and supplies for the villagers.”

The town of Montoya, in Quay County, was born as a loading point for the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1902. Primarily serving the cattle ranches of the area, an old store, built of solid stone, carried goods and supplies for the villagers. Still standing the test of time is the Sylvan R. and Maria Ignacia Hendren house affectionately called "Casa Alta". Though innocently mistaken for an old stone store, "Casa Alta" was a four room house built in the early 1900's. Other houses built by this pioneering couple are at the nearby Hendren Ranch. Surrounding this old building are relics of a time long past—houses and ranch buildings of an earlier cattle trade.

When Route 66 pushed through, more services were made available to those early travelers, including Richardson’s Store and Sinclair Station. Opening in 1925, this old store continued to do business until the mid 1970s when its owner passed away. During the Mother Road's heyday, it was a popular stopping point. Visitors can still see what remains of this old mercantile beyond a chain link fence, where the vintage gas pumps stand regally, speaking of better times.

Getting There

Montoya is Located just west of Tucumcari on the original Route 66. Inquire locally for directions.

Organ (14.5 miles NE of Las Cruces)

“...In the 1930s the mines in the area became inundated with water and were no longer feasible for use and with the onset of the Great Depression, mining operations ceased. ”

The once initial mining camp of Organ was officially established as a community back in 1883, though there had been mining activity since the late 1840s. The town's greatest population was around eighteen hundred at the turn of the century.   At that time, Organ had seven saloons, a Catholic church, a two-teacher schoolhouse, two smelters, two general stores and a tunnel jail that was originally a powder magazine. In the 1930s the mines in the area became inundated with water and were no longer feasible for use and with the onset of the Great Depression, mining operations ceased.  However, with the opening of White Sands Missile Range and the testing of the Nuclear Bomb in 1945, Organ began to thrive again as a community providing homes and leisure services to military personnel and government contractors.

Getting There

Organ is now a modern day community on U.S. Highway 70, with many of its residents presently employed at the White Sands Missile Base.  The few remaining landmarks of Old Organ have been engulfed by the present town.  As of the 2010 census, its population was 323.

Images Courtesy of John Mulhouse and City of Dust Blog

Pie Town (84 Miles west of Socorro on US Route 60)

“...The Pie Town Annual Pie Festival includes a pie-baking contest, games and races, music, food, and arts and crafts. Annually the second Saturday in September.”

Pie Town is located along U.S. Highway 60 in Catron County. Its name comes from an early bakery for making dried-apple pies that was established by Clyde Norman in the early 1920s. Pie Town is the location of a "Pie Festival" on the second Saturday of each September. Pie Town is also located immediately north of the Gila National Forest and not very far west of the Plains of San Augustin, the location of the Very Large Array radio telescope, which is also located along U.S. 60.

Another way to get to Pie Town is by way of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. For cyclists, equestrians, motorcyclists, and hikers, Pie Town provides a number of services including lodging, supplies and unique flavors of pie on request. In June 2007, three residents of Pie Town, Nita Larronde, Don Kearney, and Kathy Knapp, were awarded the Curry Trail Angel Award by the Adventure Cycling Association in recognition for their kindness and generosity.

The area of Pie Town is rich in relics of the Native Americans. Many Anasazi and Acoma pottery shards have been found in the area, along with grinding slicks, an ancient axe head, and petrified wood. Some fossilized bones have been found on the ground. The ruins of Native American communities, which consist of one to a few dozen structures are found here.

The Pie Town Annual Pie Festival includes a pie-baking contest, games and races, music, food, and arts and crafts.


Getting there

Pie Town is located along U.S. 60, about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Albuquerque, N.M., and about 235 miles (378 km) east of Phoenix, Arizona.

Visit the Pie Town page on this website

Pinos Altos (8.5 miles north of Silver City)

“...The town began in 1860 when three frustrated 49ers, Thomas Birch, Colonel Snively and another guy named Hicks, stopped to take a drink in Bear Creek and discovered gold.”

Historic Pinos Altos (Spanish for 'tall pines') is a very old mining town; it was Grant County's first county seat. The town site is located along the Continental Divide at an elevation of 7,000 feet in the southern end of the Pinos Altos Mountains of the Gila National Forest. 

The town began in 1860 when three frustrated 49ers, Thomas Birch, Colonel Snively and another guy named Hicks, stopped to take a drink in Bear Creek and discovered gold. Word spread like wildfire, soon there were over 700 men prospecting in the area. There were conflicts between the miners and the Indians.

Pinos Altos' history includes the Apache War of September 22, 1861, where Cochise joined the 400 strong Chiricahua Apaches under Mangas Coloradas to drive away miners from their traditional homeland. Captain Thomas Marston, Arizona Scout, and many others on both sides died in this battle.

Roy Bean operated a mercantile here in the 1860s before moving to West Texas to gain fame as Judge Roy Bean "The Law West of the Pecos."

The area surrounding Pinos Altos has a rich history of ranching where some of the largest ranches in the country once were located not far from town.  Take a drive and you'll see evidence of ranching all around: windmills, stock tanks, and corrals. The cowboys, though, often work far from the road. When you see one, you're seeing someone with one foot in the past, the other in the present and completely steeped in the traditions that helped settle the West.

Today, P.A. (as it is known by locals) has a charming main street that feels like an old western movie set. Many of the old buildings date back to the 1800s and have been restored with original memorabilia and artifacts. It has a population of 300.

While in town, visitors can walk through the pages of downtown history at historical sites and museum tours; enjoy great food and entertainment; try their hand at gold panning; or simply delight in the beautiful mountain views of the Gila National Forest

Getting There

Pinos Altos in 8.5 miles north of Silver City on NM 15.

For more information please visit the links to the right.

Opera House Image Courtesy of John Mulhouse and City of Dust Blog

Shakespeare (about three miles south of Lordsburg)

“...The rich silver mined out very rapidly but then the rumor began to circulate that diamonds had been discovered on Lee's Peak west of town. ”

Now off the beaten track and privately owned, Shakespeare had a tenuous beginning as Mexican Springs in the 1850s as a stop on the Butterfield Overland Stage line. In 1870, prospectors discovered samples of very rich silver ore in the surrounding hills and they went hunting for financing to develop their new mines. Some of them interested a group of financiers connected with William Ralston, President of the Bank of California. A company was formed and the town was named in Ralston's honor. The town grew rapidly and newspapers as far away as San Diego carried stories about the promising new camp. The population boomed to 3000 people with independent miners flocking in to try to get a piece of the action. The company had some hired fighting men on their payroll to keep these independent miners off. The rich silver mined out very rapidly but then the rumor began to circulate that diamonds had been discovered on Lee's Peak west of town. The Hired Fighting men stayed on the payroll, the stages kept running, and the town boomed until sometime in 1872 when the diamond swindle was revealed as a hoax all over the country. Most people left town for fear of being implicated in the crooked work and the town almost emptied of people. In 1879 Colonel William G. Boyle got hold of most of the good claims and renamed the town Shakespeare to eliminate memories of the earlier swindles. With financing coming from St. Louis this time he started the Shakespeare Gold and Silver Mining and Milling Company and the town enjoyed a second boom. The railroad missed Shakespeare by about 3 miles and the beginning of the new railroad town of Lordsburg was the death knell for Shakespeare. The depression of 1893 caused the mines to close and most people moved away to find jobs elsewhere. In 1935 Frank and Rita Hill purchased the town and buildings for a ranch. Shakespeare was declared a National Historic Site in 1970. The ghost town is privately owned and can only be toured one weekend during each month or by appointment. Several times a year, living history re-enactments are held at the historic site.

Getting There

Shakespeare is 2 1/2 miles south and west of Lordsburg on NM Hwy 494 from Lordsburg.

To get to Shakespeare from Lordsburg take the Main Street exit (EXIT 22) from I-10 and turn South. Follow the signs 2 1/2 MILES on NM Hwy. 494 to reach the Town of Shakespeare.

For more information please visit the websites to the right.

White Oaks Three miles north of Carrizozo on US Hwy 54

“...With its brothels and casino’s, Billy the Kid thought of White Oaks as a resort”

Three miles north of Carrizozo on US Hwy 54 is the turn-off to the “ghost town” of White Oaks. White Oaks is not your typical flat-roofed adobe New Mexico historical experience.  It's more cowboy/frontier than adobe Disneyland. There were no Conquistadores bringing the word of God to the native population. It was a frontier wild west cattle community right up until gold was discovered... an almost pure vein going down into Baxter Mountain; then everything changed.

White Oaks became "eastern influenced" with about as many lawyers as miners.  Homes were built with pitched (instead of flat) roofs. The Hoyle House - which still exists today - is a Victorian with a "widow's walk" on the roof.  The second largest city in New Mexico, it was surpassed only by Santa Fe. White Oaks died when the local fathers tried to sell the right of way to the expanding railroad (they said, "No, thank you.") and the gold was mined out.  It was one of Billy the Kid's favorite places; but gold made White Oaks, and no gold and no railroad broke it.

Today, visitors may explore several historic buildings, the Cedarvale cemetery, and the historic No Scum Allowed Saloon, recently named one of American Cowboy Magazine's "Best Cowboy Bars in the West." 

Getting there

From Ruidoso, take Hwy 48 North toward Alto. Drive almost 10 miles to NM 37, turn left. Drive 14 miles to US380, turn right. Drive 8 miles, turn right on US 54. Drive 3 miles, turn right on county road 349. Drive 8 miles, turn right on Pine St (County road A044).

Image Courtesy of Mike Sinnwell

Download the Ghost Towns Map

“...Here's a handy printable map for finding the Ghost Towns on this page”

Click on the image below to download a printable PDF map of the Ghost Towns featured on this page. Note: The Map will open in a new window. To download the map right click and save to your computer. The map is 15.3 Mb.

New Ghost Towns Map 2014 Revised