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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chloride New Mexico

March 30 2011

Finally we were up and about to see Chloride, New Mexico. Chloride, an old ghost town west of Truth or Consequenses, or T or C, as the locals say, was about to fall down when Las Cruces residents Don and Donna Edmund happened to see Chloride back in 1977 and decided to buy up a couple of properties starting a process of rehablitation and revival of the old mining town.

We arrived on a warm spring afternoon on March 29.  We were welcomed by the Edmunds and also got to know a work-kamping couple from Wisconsin. The place is unbelievably quiet and serene and my immediate reaction was: I could stay here for ever! 

But let’s get back to when it really started, shall we?

Chloride got its start in the late 1870s by accident. Harry Pye, a mule skinner was hauling freight through the area for the U.S.-Army, when he discovered som promising “float” of  silver. He had the rock assayed and found that it was rich in chloride of silver. Pye kept his find a secret until his army contract expired I 1879. He returned with two companions to Chloride Canyon and staked a claim. Within a few months the Pye party was attacked by Indians and Pye was killed.

The word got out that there was a rich silver strike and by 1880 Miners had flocked in and a tent City sprang up. The tent city evolved into permanent buildings and the town was named Chloride after the type of silver ore that was found there.

Only one year later, in 1881, Chloride boasted eight saloons, three mercantile stores, two butcher shops, a hotel, a boarding house, an assay office, livery stables, a candy store, a drug store, a law office, a Chinese laundry and a millinery store.

As with most boom towns of the west the town aquired a a rather rowdy reputation. Heavy drinking, bar fights and brawls made living too hard for some residents, mostly with families. These residents moved a couple of miles down the valley and started the town of Winston.

The former Monte Christo Saloon and dance hall, today serving as a gift shop, still features the result of what probably started as a bar brawl, as one of its windows out front bears the mark of a stray bullet, cracking the glas.

In 1881 the Pioneer Stage Line ran into Chloride, and the U.S. Government established a post office. In 1882 a newspaper, called the Black Range, was established by Mr. Beckett. It is also reported that the new city had at least one, if not several, brothels. The population grew to 3000 during its heyday. Because of the scarcity of women in town the “city fathers” offered a free building site to single women who chose Chloride as a place to live.

The same report states that a building site would be provided to the father of the first born child in Chloride, if it could be learned who the father was!!

Only ten years after, Chloride started on its decline. When the U.S. government selected gold as the monetary standard, Silver-mining towns all over the West began an immediate decline because the price of silver dropped so low, it wasn’t worth hauling out.

By 1900 Chloride had become a quiet little village, a haven for its retired residents and later,  thanks to the Edmunds, an interesting place to visit. 


For more infos visit:
www.pioneerstoremuseum.com and don't forget to call the Edmunds ahead of time, as there is only a limited capacity in the RV-Park.

Wall Street, Chloride with Monte Christo Dance Hall and Pioneer Store Museum
Pioneer  Store Museum was boarded up with all its contents when the owners left town. The entire inventory can still be seen
The old Monte Christo Dance Hall has been converted into a very nice gift shop

This house came from the old mining town of Grafton which does not exist anymore. But before it came to Chloride it was sitting in Las Cruces where it was supposed to mark the city's Centennial Celebration, but then was badly neglected.

It will become an interpretation center for all the old mining towns in the area many of which have long since disappeared.



If you want to visit Chloride, take Hwy 52 from I-25 west of Truth or Consequences. Chloride is 2 miles beyond the town of Winston. The Edmunds run a Mini RV-Park (5 sites) with full hook-ups. They also rent out a cabin to you.

This town is brim full of history and you would want to hear it all from the Edmunds.

1 comment:

  1. A few pics inside the Pioneer Store Museum when we were there.....

    https://picasaweb.google.com/stargeezerguy/83THELITTLEWESTERNTOWNATTHEENDOFTHEROAD

    BLOG FOR THAT DAY
    http://thebayfieldbunch.com/2009/09/blog-decisions-little-western-ghost.html

    ReplyDelete

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