You’ve Never Seen Anything Like The Santa Rita Mine In New Mexico That Swallowed An Entire Town

The town of Santa Rita was once about 15 miles down the road from Silver City. Originally, it was nothing save a fort with a church. Once additional buildings were constructed around the complex, the community became known as Santa Rita del Cobre. In the first half of the 20th century, the population of this town surged to 6,000 people. Today it’s gone. Swallowed up by this massive copper mine in New Mexico. Where once there was a town, now there’s only the gaping maw of an open-pit copper mine.

You’ll find the mine referred to as the Santa Rita Mine, the Santa Rita del Cobre Mine, and also the Chino Mine. This one hole in the ground has more monikers than a character in a Russian novel. Thankfully, the new owners (Freeport-McMoRan) that bought the mine in 2007 didn’t feel obliged to slap their name on it as well. However, they did reopen the mine in 2011.

Today, holes in the fencing allow you to take unobstructed photographs of the pit. Informational plaques at the pull off provide details about the mine.

This video provides an aerial perspective of the mine today. It’s a sight like no other. See for yourself.

Even in 1927, the scale of this mine was daunting yet impressive. In the vintage video below, footage of the mine begins at 1:38 minutes.

Had you ever heard this fascinating story about New Mexico? After you have stopped to view this giant mining pit, consider exploring more of the state’s history by visiting some of New Mexico’s mining towns.

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Address: Chino Mine, NM 88041, USA
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Massive Copper Mine In New Mexico

April 23, 2020

What are the most well known mines in New Mexico?

Mining in New Mexico has been prevalent throughout the state's history. From the rush of the prospectors in the 19th century to the prominent mines and quarries of today, there is no denying that mining has played an important role in New Mexico. Today, people often think of the state's famous turquoise mines. Turquoise is well-loved in the state and often considered one of the state's main symbols. You can even take a turquoise trail to follow the history and significance of the mineral. Its beauty and historical significance make it a well-known part of mining in New Mexico today.

What are the oldest mines in New Mexico?

Mining has occurred through pretty much all of the history of New Mexico. The Chino Mine is the third oldest, still active open-pit copper mine in the entire world. It was founded in 1910, but there is evidence of mining in the area from long before that. For example, in Madrid, NM, there is evidence of historic mining from the 1850s. That area is the oldest coal mining area in the entire state. Some of the mines are still active, many - especially those that formed during the gold or silver rushes - have long since closed. Check out these photos of abandoned mines in New Mexico to see some.

What is New Mexico known for?

Along with mining, there are many other aspects of New Mexico that define the state. The copper and turquoise are just a couple of symbols of the Land of Enchantment. Others include things like having the best chile in the world, beautiful pueblos, a vast and deep history, stunning landscapes, and so much more. People tend to think of UFOs when they think of New Mexico, thanks to places like Roswell. There are famous photographs taken of the state's popular hot air balloon festivals as they drift over the beautiful scenery.