New Mexico Nature September 21, 2017
by Brandie Erisman This Stunning New Mexico Park Was Once a Dump But Now You Will Want to Visit Again and Again
In the early days of Silver City, stormwater runoff surged down Main Street and carved a big ditch. For years the ditch was used as a trash heap and sewer. In the 1970s, slated to be paved over for parking, the citizens decided they wanted to preserve the area. Today the “Big Ditch” is a beautiful greenway.
The Big Ditch in Silver City is a remarkable green space.
The Big Ditch is a combination walking trail and park. You can explore the tree-lined path but it's also a good place to enjoy a cup of coffee or read a book.
The path is more than just a walk.
Along the trail you'll find the Silver City Visitor's Center and a re-creation of the cabin where Billy the Kid grew up. Sometimes there is live music or other events on the path too. A footbridge leads to the city's historic downtown.
A series of floods created the Big Ditch.
The Big Ditch was formed in 1895 when a flash flood devastated the original downtown. The flood also left a ditch 55 feet lower than the original street level. More floods through downtown followed.
For decades, the ditch was a nuisance.
To deal with the floodwaters down the main street, business owners began using their backdoors as entrances. The ditch, now "out back" became a handy dump and an open sewer.
Citizens united to preserve the area.
In the 1970s, slated to be paved over for parking, the citizens decided they wanted to preserve the area. The ditch's renewal is an example of turning an eyesore into an asset.
Signs along the trail highlight area history.
Have you ever noticed that old Silver City has high sidewalks? This sign talks about the person responsible, a woman named Elizabeth Warren. As a general contractor, she oversaw the shoring up of the sidewalks and buildings against the floods.
The walkway is next to historic downtown.
As well as creating the Big Ditch Park, the city also preserved the historic downtown. The original Warren House can be seen from the path. It was one of the few structures to survive the floods.
A mural tells the story of the Big Ditch.
High school students and community members worked to create this work of art that shows how the flood changed the city. More than 2,000 people helped make tiles for the mural.
The park is easy to reach.
You can find the Big Ditch Park and trail at 108 East Broadway Street, in Silver City. Park at the city visitor center or along adjacent streets.
What do you think of this story? Do you know of other places in New Mexico that have gone from trash to treasure?
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