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.
54 miles southwest of Santa Rosa on NM 54
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 below 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 (http://cityofdust.blogspot.com/)