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The history surrounding Magdalena is rich with Old West Legends, Dusty Cattle Drives, Pioneer families, Main Street Shoot-outs, Fiery Ranchers and Grimy-faced Miners. This history just adds to the many area attractions.
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 Lady on the Mountain" is a rock formation on Magdalena Peak overlooking Magdalena. Spanish soldiers saw the face of a woman on the west face of the peak. A priest with them was reminded of a similar peak in Spain called "La Sierra de Maria Magdalena", so he called the New Mexico one "La Sierra de Magdalena". The natural pass to the south of the peak became known as Magdalena Gap, and when a town grew up it received the same name.
Magdalena has recently been trying to transform itself into an art center and cultural destination. The opening of at least a dozen art galleries, a woolery, the renovation of the Bank West Building and the Magdalena Hall Hotel have all made their mark on this mountain village. Several rock and mineral shops have been around since the mining boom days. The ghost town of Kelly and two important festivals, the Lady Magdalena Art Walk and the Old Timers Reunion and Rodeo, bring tourists to the area.
The Very Large Array is located close to the community.
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.
28 Miles west of Socorro on US Route 60
Magdalena is 28 miles west of Socorro on US Route 60