Friday, July 3, 2009

Lake Valley NM, a ghost town of interesting history


Lake Valley sits on Highway 27, South of another mining town called Hillsboro. From the humble conditions Lake Valley finds itself today, it is hard to imagine that it had such a colorful past! Prior to the turn of the century, Lake Valley was a booming mining town! Silver was first found in Lake Valley in 1878, but it wasn't until 1882 that the big discovery was made. That was the year The Bridal Chamber was discovered! Silver ore found just 40 feet from the surface, ore so pure that it was cut from the mine and sent directly to the mint in Denver. 99.9% pure!
A single piece of ore was displayed at the World Exposition held in Denver in 1882, it was valued at $7,000 at a time when silver was selling for about a dollar an ounce!

In 1884 the railroad was extended to Lake Valley and it became the typical boom town with plenty of saloons open around the clock!

This stone building was first a school, then a saloon and later a general store and gas station. The main street business district burned to the ground in 1895. Story goes that the fire was started behind one of the many saloons by an inebriated patron. Once the fire started, there was no stopping the inferno from engulfing the entire business district! All that remains are the foundations of the buildings and pieces of twisted melted glass.

If you click on this picture of the sign, it will become full sized and you can read it.

This building is the final schoolhouse. It is adobe and built in 1904. This land is now all managed and protected by BLM (Bureau of Land Management.) The lady you see on the steps is a workamper like Chuck and I are. She and her husband volunteered for a year and they get a month off sometime during that year. She was like a walking talking history book, very knowledgable and interesting!

The schoolhouse shot from the back of the room, notice there are 3 styles of school desks.

mmmmmmmmmm, I fell in love with the old wood stove. There were 2 in this building! The beautiful old organ was recently brought back to the school. As former residents and/or relatives of former residents realise that the BLM is caretaking the land, people are bringing back items that used to belong to homes in the town.

As you look from the front to the back of the school house, you realize how large it is. The other 1/2 is now the museum where the above mentioned items usually end up after being brought back. I also mentioned the 3 styles of school desks. The earliest styles were from the first silver boom. After silver devalued and the town almost went bust, WWII started and maganese ore was discovered and mined. Then again the town almost went bust when the Korean War started. So the town had 3 booms and each time new school desks were bought!

This is called Lizard Mountain and it's easy to see why!

There were several bottle dumps around the walking tour. I was fascinated by all the lavender glass everywhere. You are not allowed to collect anything from Lake Valley. It is held in "arrested decay" for posterity.

I loved this old building with it's washing machine sitting outside!

A lot of the buildings had been patched and repaired with many kinds of materials. The houses became a patchwork !
We took about 2 hours to walk around Lake Valley and I took over 100 photos. It was hard to narrow it down to these few! The next set will be of a beautiful old 1935 Plymouth that we found rusting gracefully in the sun there!
After Chuck and I left Lake Valley we headed to Hatch NM, the chili capitol of the world. It was pretty amazing to see how green everything was there compared to the stark, parched browns of Truth or Consequences! We found a great little Mexican restaurant called The Pepper Patch.
It was started by 2 sisters who came to Hatch from Mexico many years ago to pick peppers. They stayed, became citizens and opened this great little restaurant. Cash only but nothing on the menu was over ten bucks! Then we headed home, exhausted from our adventure! I hope you enjoyed it too!

1 comment:

  1. My Grandparents ranch was not very far from Lake Valley. Used to have a dance, bring a dish supper once a month at schoolhouse. Went to school there when I was 5.


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