On a slightly chilly day we headed off along one of the New Mexico ghost town trails.
Following a meandering road that climbed into the mountains our first stop was the General Store in Winston, where, after hot coffee and apple cider and successfully resisting the lure of a roaring log stove we continued on to Chloride.
Chloride http://www.pioneerstoremuseum.com/index.html is at the end of the road, almost, a 4WD forest road continues on high into the Gila Wilderness.
In the mid 1870’s, Harry Pye, an Englishman passing through the area with an army mule train found some promising ‘rocks’. When they were assayed they were found to have a high silver content. Experienced prospectors refused to go the area with Pye as it was a favourite hunting area of the Warm Springs Apache, eventually Pye met two men recently arrived from Kansas and in 1879 they returned with him to his secret canyon.
They only managed to dig about 10 feet into the mountain, before they were attacked by Vittorio and his band of warriors and Pye was killed. Holding out until dark the two men managed to make their way across the mountains to the present day town of Hillsboro where they told about the fight and the silver in the secret canyon. Almost overnight a tent city sprung up and Chloride was born.
Chloride became a bustling town with 3 general stores, eight saloons, two butcher shops, a newsstand, an assay office, a lumber yard, a confectionary store, boarding houses, a livery yard, a stagecoach line and a post office. There was no church and no jail, although there was a hanging tree.
No-one was ever actually hung but if cowboys or miners got to rowdy they were dunked in a water trough and then chained to the tree until they saw ‘the error of their ways’.
In 1896 when the price of silver fell to rock bottom the town practically died overnight. The General Store hung on until 1923 when the doors and windows were boarded up and closed.
The intention was that the young son of the owner could get an education and the store could be re-opened when the town had a resurgence.
Over 70 years later after clearing out accumulated bat, bird and mouse droppings the store was found to contain its original stock. Among many interesting items the store boasts are the latest in kitchen stoves;
Along with the latest fashions and a beautifully decorated safe.
And everything you could possibly need for your horse and buggy.
Chloride’s a really interesting place to visit, some buildings have been restored by the current owners and a small RV park sits behind the General Store and Saloon. Quite a few buildings are still privately owned and not open to the public. There is no charge to visit Chloride, but donations are appreciated and go towards building renovation.
From Chloride we followed the road back through Cuchillo which has several ruins and a pretty white church.
Our last stop was Monticello where just through the town the road turned to dirt so we turned round and headed back.
The historic plaza in Monticello.
Well it was either that or follow FR 139 to wherever it ends up, looked interesting though, maybe another day.
Have fun, we are!