After arriving in Elephant Butte New Mexico Monday the weather just didn’t cooperate as far as doing much of anything for a couple days. But ya know,, that was ok because after dry camping the 7 days prior to our arrival we had things like laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning to do so it didn’t really bother us. And we still squeezed in a few short walks.
Except it really wasn’t nice!! Wind gusts of 60mph,, hail and cooler temperatures than we have been accustomed to. But it all passed by Tuesday and is on a warming trend again.
We did have a chance to visit one of the local golf courses Sierra del Rio
http://www.sierradelriogolf.com/ . It’s located just a short ways from our campground in the Turtleback Mountain Resort. http://www.turtlebackmountainresort.com/. I think Diane and I both agree we will play this course while we are here. And it’s probably the nicest course we have played in over a year. So we deserve it LOL!!
While at the course we popped into there restaurant and a nice lunch while overlooking the course.
But Thursday rolled around and the sun was shinning and we had enough of the sitting around so we packed up the jeep and headed out for a road trip towards the Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway.
So we filled up with fuel in Truth or Consequences and drove through Williamsburg and on out highway187 until we reached Caballo and then jumped on hwy 152.
152 was pretty straight and boring until we got closer to Hillsboro. The it started twisting it’s way up the Mimbres mountains.
Hillsboro was founded in the 1870’s after gold and silver were discovered in the surrounding Black Range. The town developed into an important mining and ranching center, and served as the Sierra County seat from 1884 to 1939. It was the site of several renowned trails, and is said to have had the last operating stage line in the United States.
We are told the town is now filled with well known community of writers, artists, ranchers and miners. And I guess they have high quality musicals events throughout the year. And I’m sure after driving through that everyone knows everyone.
There are a few very old buildings however.
After Hillsboro we kept going on 152 until we reached Kingston.
At the height of its silver mining boom the population of Kingston topped 7,000, outstripping Albuquerque by at least 1,000 people. The town was founded in 1882 after a rich lode of silver ore was discovered by miner Jack Sheddon. Soon many mines dotted the area, including the Iron King Mine, after which Kingston was named.
Kingston became a thriving metropolis almost overnight and soon offered all of the trappings of civilization and culture. Numerous hotels played host to the likes of Mark Twain, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Black Jack Ketchum, and Billy the Kid. Stage lines served all major routes, and the town supported 23 saloons (some advertising fresh oysters 24 hours a day), 14 grocery and general stores, a brewery, three newspapers, and an Opera House where the Lillian Russell Troupe once performed.
Amazing but true, it all ended as quickly as it had begun. The silver panic of 1893 and the establishment of the new gold standard dropped silver prices 90 percent. With the mines playing out and profits becoming losses, the town began to fold. Most residents left, tearing down buildings for materials to be used elsewhere, and the Percha Bank, once home to 7 million dollars in silver mined in the area, closed its building and moved offices to neighboring Hillsboro to support the gold mines there.
Today there are only a few buildings remaining from those glory days of over a century ago. The old Assay Office has been renovated as a private residence. The Victorio Hotel, which partially burned in the 30’s, is also now a private residence. The Black Range Lodge, open as a Bed & Breakfast, was constructed from the ruins of what was once Pretty Sam’s Casino across the street. The Percha Bank building served for years as a Post Office and later a storage area for mining equipment. Today it stands as the only fully intact original building in the town, complete with its ornate lobby and teller windows and classic old-west bank vault, once home to so much wealth.
After Kingston the real fun began!! From Kingston to the Emory Pass you gain 3000ft in altitude in 9 miles. And at the top it is a little over 8000ft. Let me say,,,, I was really missing the bike on this road!!
It was great getting into some green again. And the view were fantastic. I think we both could have sat out lawn chairs and spent some serious time just taking in the views. But after about a hour we headed back down.
http://www.nmts.org/rides/emoryPass.htm .. I would highly recommend this road if your anyplace near it on a scooter.
We drove back down the mountain until we reached Hillsboro again then we headed south on highway 27 about 18 miles until we reached Lake Valley.
Lake Valley New Mexico was named for ancient lakebeds nearby. Founded in 1878 with the discovery of
silver in the area, the town moved twice before settling at its present site when the Bridal Chamber Mine was discovered in 1882. The subterranean mine produced 2.5 million ounces of silver ore so pure it was shipped unsmelted to the U.S. Mint. A stage stop and railhead, Lake Valley grew to 4,000 people, with saloons, churches, newspapers, a school, stores, and hotels to serve them. Like the area’s other gold and silver boomtowns, the devastating silver panic of 1893 wiped out the town, while a fire destroyed Main Street in 1895.
Lake Valley is a true ghost town (the last permanent residents left in 1994). Walking tours of Lake Valley are available from 9-4 every day except Tuesday and Wednesday, courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management. The site includes a chapel, several old homes, the cemetery, and the old schoolhouse (dating from 1904).
We probably spent a good 1 ½ hours touring the ghost town. The museum was pretty good as well. There are caretakers that live on site in a RV behind the museum. A little to remote for us for any length of time anyway.
After Lake Valley we headed back towards home but first we wanted to take a short side trip to Caballo State Park to check out the campground.
The lake looked nice and it was obvious that the campground is popular. Especially if you’re a fisherman.
By that time it was after 5 and was time to call it a day. Once home we had a good dinner of venison and a salad and kicked back for some tv.