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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.
Five miles southwest of Winston off State Road 52
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.
Images Courtesy of Mike Sinnwell