Friday, March 27, 2015

Lordsburg, New Mexico

March 23-30, 2015:

We travel route 80 east from Bisbee through Douglas then continue northeast through wide open ranch lands.  The roadsides and hills were carpeted thickly with beautiful yellow flowers sprinkled with deep purple flowers and poppies.  I stopped at the Geronimo surrender Monument along the route, amazing to think what occurred on this very spot a few generations ago.

Brilliant yellow flowers along the highway for miles

Geronimo surrender Monument

As I left the monument just after two motorcyclists, running down the road at 50 MPH, I collided with what must have been an entire hive of honey bees, the windshield was covered with dead smashed bees, could hardly see out, especially when I put on the wipers.  I had to stop and use the windshield washer for a while and the whole front of the RV was slimed.  I was wondering though how it would be to ride a motorcycle through that ?

I then crossed over the border into New Mexico, and got on route 10 east.  Actually I first backtracked two miles on 10 west one exit to take a look at the ghost town of Steins.  It is one of the most original intact ghost towns in the west, but unfortunately is closed presently under somewhat spooky circumstances involving the murder of the owner.  I was able to take a few photos from outside the fence.

Steins is closed again

A few old walls standing with a warning sign to keep out

Even the outhouse was locked

It was then back east on route 10 to Lordsburg, NM.  We decided to stay at the Pilot Truck stop because we haven't ever done that before, it has a store, food, gas and is right off the highway and is free.  The price you pay is that you are exposed to the noise of the Southern Pacific Railroad and the constant truck stop activity.  It's kinda nice having the Pilot store with all kinds of coffee blends, muffins, donuts and danish or the attached Arby's across the parking lot.  This truck stop camping is not so bad !

I see beauty in the fuel lanes at night

Lordsburg started as Southern Pacific railroad work camp and the railroad continues strong today.  There are two versions on the origin of the town name.  The more accepted one is of a Tucson businessman, Dr. Charles Lord, who owned a wholesale distributing company. He shipped supplies to the unnamed railroad work camp and they started calling the spot Lord which latter changed to Lordsburg. The other version is that the name derives from railroad supervisor Delbert Lord who decided to locate the town exactly halfway between Tucson, AZ and El Paso, TX.  

Lordsburg was a popular spot in days past when the highway went right through town.  There are amazing photos in the museum to prove it. There is a route 66 look and feel to it, but since the interstate now diverts traffic around the downtown, people don't come here anymore.  The old main street is somewhat of a ghost town.  The action has now shifted to the newer end of town next to the interstate exit.  The biggest thing is now is the Border Patrol headquarters with its razor wire fence.  If you cross the railroad tracks to the "wrong side", you are in a poverty area. The good side is just low income for the most part.  In the 1920's it had one of the first airstrips in Arizona, Lindberg landed here on his celebratory cross country flight after flying to Paris.

La Fiesta is now closed

So is this old Motel

Across the tracks, the El Charro survives with a great
western mural scene on the right

Beautiful brickwork on this building with a renovation permit
on the front door, hope it gets saved

The traffic through town is light these days

No one comes to the Coachlight Inn anymore, but a few small
stores and offices remain

Rico's restaurant is closed

Nice tile work on the old Hotel Hidalgo

There are three attractions in Lordsburg; the Library, the Museum and the Shakespeare ghost town. 

We then do our usual visitor center visit to get the latest New Mexico brochures.  Then a ride to the town cemetery, near the ghost town of Shakespeare.  I know it's a little strange to visit a cemetery, but they can be very interesting.  This one is mostly hispanic and the graves are very colorfully decorated.

Lordsburg Cemetery

Next we take the adjacent dirt road to the Shakespeare ghost town where you come to a closed gate with a very threatening warning sign.  You can see a few of the old buildings from the entrance road, but not much.  It's weird to me that a place like this, that is really the only attraction in town, is only open two Saturdays a month and the only way to see it is by a guided tour.

Many warnings and rules at Shakespeare Ghost town

Large sizable buildings do remain

The The Lordsburg Hildalgo Library is a beautiful Aztec-Pueblo style gem of a building built by the WPA in 1936 with beautiful wood beamed ceilings.  It is obviously a lovingly volunteer run operation with a decent collection of books  for a town this size.

Nice architecture

A very clean well maintained Library

Nice ceilings and lighting

The Lordsburg-Hildalgo County Museum has a photography room with a ton of old Lordsburg and local area photos.  They were quite an eye opener to see, downtown Lordsburg had such a busy vibrant downtown full of shops, hotels, restaurants, bars and the train station in the past.  It's so sad to see it now. If the people from that era could return and see it again they would die a second death. There was also a interesting Prisoner of War room about the POW's, mostly Germans and Italians who were held captive at the Lordsburg POW camp. They mostly worked on local farms and actually were treated very well.  There is also a military room, a local cowboy Hall of Fame room, a mining room and lots of donated artifacts.

Twinkles is checking out the Windmill

The Hotel Hidalgo was great hotel complex

It was booming in the 1930's

Next stop is Las Cruces, New Mexico;

Twinkles and Slick

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