The author’s latest book looks at the deserted towns of New Mexico

March 26—Editor’s Note:

On the fourth Sunday of every month, Journal Arts editor Adrian Gomez tells the stories behind some of the hidden gems you can see across the state in “Gimme Five.”

Donna Blake Birchell is no stranger to the wild roads of New Mexico.

The New Mexico-based author gets out on the road more than most.

The prolific writer delves into deserted towns in her latest book, “New Mexico Ghost Towns.”

She says that with all the books she’s written, a lot of research overlaps and is often the seed planted for another adventure.

“My actual trips to many sites to photograph the ruins took about a year. I like to give the reader my perspective on the sites, what they will encounter, the road conditions and perhaps some of the hazards to avoid “, she said. said. “I also hope that readers will use this book as a guide for day trips and camping trips. As I am known to get lost in my travels, I have also included contact details for each ghost town featured – it can save them a headache down the road.”

Blake Birchell says that while researching this book, she visited some of the busiest ghost towns in the state along the Turquoise Trail and loved the history and vibe they represent.

She says that as someone who acquired a love for history, old buildings, and exploring New Mexico from her father, “New Mexico Ghost Towns” was a natural progression for her.

“At the time, I hadn’t realized there were over 400 ghost towns in the state, so a moment of panic set in as I wondered how I was going to fit them all into this little book,” she says. “To narrow it down, I decided to include those that were the most tangible, that could be visited easily, and that still had ruins for readers to explore. Some of the mining towns in the northeast of the state are more difficult to visit without a high-clearance vehicle, since these are old mining or logging roads, so the reader can plan their trips around the type of vehicle they will be using.

“There are over 80 ghost towns featured in this book and I’ve tried to add a wide range and variety of towns, from the well-known like Madrid to more obscure towns like Cedarvale.”

She was surprised to see how many ghost towns still exist in New Mexico.

“Although some of them have unfortunately been vandalized, there is still so much to see and explore in the state,” she says. “Discovering these treasures for yourself is a wonderful way to teach history to your children so they can catch the story bug and keep this legacy alive for future generations.”

Blake Birchell took the time to highlight five ghost towns people should see. Here are a few that stood out:

1. Chloride — A 200-year-old “hanging tree” and the “Chloride National Forest” greet visitors upon entering the town of Chloride.

“A bit of humor since no one has ever been hung from a tree and the forest is basically a weather-beaten tree,” says Blake Birchell. “Don and Dona Edmund took a wrong turn on their way to the Gila Wilderness to experience this wonderfully preserved town straight out of the Wild West. the Apache mining district.”

Visitors will be able to see the restored Pioneer Store/Museum.

“You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the 1870s as you step through the wooden threshold,” she says. “Amazingly, all items in the store are original to the building and were found abandoned by the Edmunds.”

Drive the New Mexico 52 and visit two other ghost towns mentioned in the book, Cuchillo and Winston, following a narrow, winding two-lane road to adventure with Chloride as the prize at the end.

2. Kelly – Blake Birchell says the steel, kit-ordered headframe of the Kelly mine, which was designed by Alexandre G. Eiffel – yes, the designer of the Eiffel Tower – stands proudly 121 feet in the air and still watches over a 1,000-foot-deep Tri-Bullion mine shaft.

“The views from this location over the valley below are breathtaking,” she says. “At its height in 1884, there were banks, saloons, churches and merchants for the miners to enjoy and frequent, as the population was around 3,000. The mines produced silver , lead and zinc and provided a good livelihood for those willing to work the hazardous conditions to obtain the ore.

By 1942 the mine had closed and the miners’ houses were moved to nearby Magdalena, and the last person moved in 1947.

“Today there are two residents, and I heard the town of Kelly is up for sale – now is your chance to own a big piece of New Mexico’s mining history,” says- she.

3. Lincoln – Technically not a ghost town since they have a year-round population, Lincoln is one of the best preserved Old West-era towns in the state.

“Once dubbed the ‘most dangerous street in America’ by President Rutherford B. Hayes due to Lincoln County’s bloody war, you can still walk the same paths as Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and John Tunstall” , she says. “You can feel the past, soak up the history and be part of the future at Lincoln.”

4. Cedarvale – Cedarvale’s soil and climate are perfect for growing pinto beans and this crop was in high demand during World War I and World War II to feed American troops in Europe.

“Located on the windswept plains in the middle of New Mexico, Cedarvale is home to a school building built by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and still has remnants of the lessons written on the blackboards to spark your imagination,” says- she. “Warnings to watch out for rattlesnakes are spray painted on the ruins as the reptiles also like to call the area home.”

5. Elizabethtown – In the shadow of Mount Baldy, Elizabethtown, also known as E-Town, began as a great place to house gold and copper miners. The city quickly became New Mexico’s first incorporated city with a population of 7,000.

“E-Town could boast of being the premier county seat of Colfax and a mining boom town,” she says. “The town was also home to one of the first serial killers in the New Mexico Territory, whom community members such as Clay Allison and Davy Crockett (nephew of the notorious frontier) sued to end his rule. Today Elizabethtown is a dot on the map and easily missed I was told if you see the cattle guard on the left side of the road to the Red River looking like a dragon you are gone too far.”

In line

Donna Blake Birchell’s book “New Mexico Ghost Towns” is available at arcadiapublishing.com or historypress.net and in local bookstores.

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