[tmt_info =””]From Hatch, take NM Rte. 26 west/south. Expect a somewhat boring drive until you reach the Rte. 27 turnoff. The final destination for the day is Silver City, which you could reach by taking I-25 north to NM Rte. 152. While the interstate would be faster, Rte. 152 will still slow you down.[/tmt_info]
This is how the scenery starts. You’ll see a few small hills in the distance, and that’s about it.
Within the first five miles, I had already stopped 5 times to take pictures. At one of those stops, I found several horses and a couple of donkeys nibbling on grass at the side of the road. As I approached the fence, they approached me.
One horse in particular was especially interested in being photographed.
When the road took a turn to the north, it eventually crossed under some high-voltage power lines. Power poles in a city are almost always ugly, but somehow out here, they seem majestic, as they line up to infinity.
As the terrain becomes more mountainous, you’ll come across the closest thing to a tourist attraction in this area: the Lake Valley Ghost Town. Outside the gates to the town, an old Conoco gas sign still swings in the breeze, although the pumps are gone.
Aside from the old gas station (seen from another angle above), all the old houses and stores in Lake Valley are behind a gate. And believe it or not, this ghost town closes at 4 p.m.! Since I arrived around 4:30, all I could do is shoot a few photos from the parking area.
[tmt_info =””]The Bureau of Land Management now watches over Lake Valley, and a resident caretaker lives on-site, just in case you’re thinking of hopping the gate after hours.[/tmt_info]
[tmt_info =””]At its biggest, Lake Valley was home to about 4,000 people, 12 saloons, a couple of newspapers, and a school. That schoolhouse has now been restored, and houses a small museum.[/tmt_info]
Monument Peak and Lizard Rock rise above one old homestead.
From the parking area, you can see the town’s old church and a couple of homes, but it’s just not the same as exploring them up-close.
[tmt_info =””]Lake Valley boomed in the 1880’s, while the town’s silver mine produced a generous amount of ore. The silver vein lining the walls of the Bridal Chamber Mine was so large, miners had to saw the ore into chunks to remove it. Several websites (including the always helpful ghosttowns.com) report one chunk of silver from the mine, valued at $7,000, was displayed at the Denver Exposition in 1882. And at 1882 prices, you can bet that was one big chunk of silver.[/tmt_info]
As you leave Lake Valley, there are a few more curves in the pavement, as you begin to head into the hills.
I made one final stop on Rte. 27, at this arroyo (dry wash).
Note: This trip was first published in 2006.