New Mexico June 22, 2016
This Haunting Road Trip Through New Mexico Ghost Towns Is One You Won’t Forget
Ghost towns are scattered across our state, the byproduct of New Mexico’s mining and railroad history. There are so many that you’re usually near at least one abandoned town. However, several of these deserted places are clustered in close proximity, in the southwestern portion of New Mexico. If you fancy a road trip back in time, drive around this loop of seven ghost towns.
Directions are shown on this
Google Map. The trip covers 574 miles and takes 11 hours and 27 minutes without stops. Break up your drive with an overnight stay in Silver City or bring your tent and spend the night in the Gila National Forest.
Our loop begins and ends in Engle because it’s so close to Truth or Consequences – you’re going to want a soak in one of the town’s hot springs after all that driving!
The remains of Engle lie 16 miles east of Truth or Consequences. This railroad town was established in 1879. For a time, it prospered as a cattle town and the population surged during the construction of Elephant Butte Dam. There are a few people left here, but the post office shuttered its doors years ago and Engle is now essentially a ghost town.
2. Lake Valley
Lake Valley was once a silver-mining town, centered around the Bridal Chamber Mine. Fate dealt the town a double whammy when the silver panic of 1893 was followed by a saloon fire in 1895. The latter was believed to be an act of arson. Flames destroyed the commercial structures in about 30 minutes. Lake Valley clung on until 1974, when the death of the last resident officially turned this place into a ghost town.
Shakespeare was once called Mexican Springs and it was a tough place to call home. Rumor had it that the penalty for killing someone was that you had to dig their grave. The earth here was probably dry and unyielding but with rules like that, it’s hardly surprising that the town ran out of residents!
People came to Mexican Springs with dreams of finding silver. There was also talk of diamonds under nearby Lee’s Peak, but that turned out to be a hoax.
Colonel William G. Boyle altered the town’s name to Shakespeare in 1879.
Tours only happen twice a month. While it would certainly be neat to see inside these buildings, if your plans don’t line up with tour dates, you can still get a feel for this ghost town from the other side of the fence.
For information about taking a tour of Shakespeare, click
4. Pinos Altos
Although the current population of Pinos Altos is 198 according the last census, the town bills itself as “a mining ghost town that still thrives.”
In 1860, a group of unsuccessful 49ers found gold in Bear Creek. The discovery brought prospectors to Pinos Altos in droves.
Nowadays, the town still looks like it belongs in the Wild West. Although you’re unlikely to stumble upon a genuine gunslinger, you can score a good meal at the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House.
At the end of the 19th century, Mogollon was a mining town with a rough reputation. Silver was abundant in the area, which led to a population boom. After mining operations ended in the 1970s, Mogollon declined.
A few people continue to live here and a handful of small businesses remain open. After strolling around the town, head up Graveyard Gulch. That’ll allow you to see more relics from Mogollon’s mining days. The hike concludes at the town's graveyard.
Kelly is a true ghost town, without a single resident. Most of what remains is equipment from the Kelly Mine. The most impressive of these structures is the headframe, which stands 121 feet high. It's unsettling to remember that 30 miles of tunnels snake beneath your feet (although they're now blocked off).
During the 1880s, Chloride was a busy mining town. But even then, life here had its challenges. Apache Indian attacks were an ongoing threat – the town’s founder, a man by the name of Harry Pye, was slaughtered during one assault. In the end, it was the silver panic that reduced Chloride’s population. Today it is a pseudo ghost town with a handful of full-time residents.
Are you game for this creepy yet cool drive through New Mexico’s ghost towns?