Monday, October 20, 2014

Lake Valley Ghost Town, New Mexico

My state map shows ghost town with a little icon in the shape of a building.  I set off one day to visit three of them that were grouped in a general area.  One of them was reviewed as the best of New Mexico in a southwestern publication.  All three were described as mining towns. 
As I approached the first one, Hillsboro, it didn’t look like a mining town from the 1800s.  There were some abandoned buildings, but didn’t look old enough.  Other buildings and homes were occupied.  I stopped when I saw a building on a hill constructed of stone.  I took a few photos and then I heard someone tell me I could come up and take more photos. 
The building had been an old power station for the town, but he had purchased it and made a unique home.  We talked about the town and he told me that after it had been declared a ghost town, people started moving in.  
I was in search of a real ghost town, buildings from the 1800s and totally deserted.  I decided to go on to the town that was described as the best ghost town in New Mexico – Lake Valley.  It was just a few miles further down the road and it was a very scenic drive, a very pretty day. 
Lake Valley did turn out to be a ghost town, with no current residents except for the caretakers, a couple who lived in their RV in back of the schoolhouse.  They had been there for over three years, taking care of the place and telling visitors about the town’s history.  There had been a lucrative silver mine here, complete with a railroad.  Unfortunately, there was a massive fire in 1895 and most of the town burned.  During the first half of the 20th century, there was manganese ore mined in the area.  The last of the residents left in 1994, he had lived there 90 years.
This was definitely a ghost town – a few of the buildings were still standing and in good condition because they had been maintained.  Another few were either caved in or on the way to caving in.  The ones that looked like they would cave in next had signs posted that they were private property – Keep Out!  When I questioned the caretaker about them, she said that the state could not find paperwork on them to find out who actually owns them.  It seems that the families believe they are still owned by the respective families, but the State could not find any paperwork to back up their claims.  Therefore, the State will not improve the properties, since they may not belong to the State.  Unfortunately, since no one is maintaining them, they will fall in one day and some of the history will be lost. 
Back in some bushes are the remains of a 1935 Plymouth.  The wheels are gone, as are the windows and the body is just sitting on the desert floor.  The engine was somehow taken out of the car and is sitting on the dirt right next to the car.  The caretaker said that no one knew who it belonged to or how it got there, but it just appeared one day.
The schoolhouse is a huge building that has been maintained well.  There’s a museum on one end a in an area where they had community meetings, and the schoolhouse is on the other end.  The schoolhouse still has an old piano and piano stool, as well as all the desks.  An old wood stove sat at each end of the building.
            This was what I expected when I wanted to see a ghost town.  I’m looking forward to seeing more here and in Arizona.

1 comment:

  1. Still having exciting adventures I see. Enjoyed the post.