Wednesday – October 9, 2013
Chloride, New Mexico
We awoke to a blustery, windy morning here at the Elephant Butte Lake State Park in Elephant Butte, New Mexico. This is our last day here and we will visit a ghost town in Chloride.
Chloride is located 42 miles northwest of our campground. The journey to the ghost town takes the visitor on NM-52, a two-lane paved, somewhat bumpy road. Steep hills and a winding road are encountered along the way, with several 25-mph curves and one 10-mph curve. The road crosses over several dry riverbeds that show the deep gorges that flash floods have exacted on the surrounding terrain over time. During the hot summer months, the water evaporates and strong winds create mini-sand dunes on the road where it crosses over the dry riverbed. The county then employs front-end loaders to clear the sand from the road.
Chloride was founded in 1880 after Englishman Henry Pye discovered silver ore nearby. Despite Indian attacks (Pye was killed by Apaches a few months after filing his claim), the town grew to 3,000 people. It had 9 saloons, 3 general stores, restaurants, butcher shops, candy store, lawyer, doctor, Chinese laundry, 2 hotels, livery stable, smelter, and sawmill. There were 12 producing mines and nearly 500 prospector holes in and around Chloride. The silver panic of 1893 wiped out the town, but many original structures still stand, along with the town’s two cemeteries. The old Pioneer Store is now a museum. The "Hanging Tree" on Wall Street is 200 or more years old. About 11 people now live in Chloride.
As ghost towns go, we were kind of disappointed with Chloride. We were expecting to see an abandoned town with the remains of structures from the 1880’s, and instead found a few refurbished buildings nestled among a small town with inhabitants. I guess we have been spoiled by the ghost town we had visited in Bannack, Montana in September 2012.
We continued our tour of the area with a visit to Monticello. This town was founded by ranchers and farmers in 1856. The town was built in a square to protect its residents from attack by the Apache Indians. Visitors can view the remains of the old adobe town walls in the town’s historic plaza.
We completed our 124-mile journey and returned to our campground to make preparations for our next adventure.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.