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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.
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.