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Ghost towns


Native American, Spanish and Anglo settlers have been in this part of New Mexico for hundreds of years and, from rugged rock walls to abandoned mining equipment, evidence of their presence continues to dot the landscape.

A number of ghost towns can be found in the southwest corner of the state . Two of the most popular are Mogollon, NM, and the Shakespeare ghost town near Lordsburg, NM.

Part ghost town and part quiet retreat, Mogollon (pronounced "muggy - own") is a historic jewel perched in the Mogollon Mountains of southern Catron County, just north of Grant County.

Formed as a mining camp and later as a mining community, Mogollon's hills still bear witness to the heavy work of hard-rock mining underground: Mine shafts, rails for mine trains, sluices, abandoned buildings and the ruins of head frames still dot the landscape. Never attempt to enter mine ruins, shafts, buildings or other properties.

In Mogollon itself, historic buildings are still predominant along the half-mile stretch of Highway 159 that serves as the main — in fact, only — street. A small community museum is available at times, and offers an even better glimpse of the mining technology and perils of Mogollon's early days.

The pace of life in Mogollon today reflects its remoteness: A seasonal B&B and restaurant are available at times, but it is best to plan ahead when visiting the area. Gasoline is available in Glenwood, and a full tank is recommended if you contemplate traveling north of Mogollon on unpaved Highway 159 into the Gila Wilderness.

The Shakespeare ghost town has been placed on the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance's list of most Endangered Places. It is one of eleven significant historic resources in New Mexico to be so recognized and one of only three in the southern part of the State.

Shakespeare had several names throughout its up-and-down life, and only acquired its present one in 1879 at the beginning of its second mining boom. It is located alongside a small but reliable spring, which throughout the years has attracted people. Native American who ground mesquite beans left their metates scattered about, probably a few Spaniards stopped by, and then some of the Forty-niners who were taking the southern route to the gold fields of California, watered their stock at this little spring. About 1856 a building was built here by the Army, evidently to serve as a relay station on the Army Mail line between Fort Thorn on the Rio Grande and Fort Buchanan, south of Tucson.

The historic buildings at Shakespeare are showing more deterioration from age and weather damage. The disastrous fire in April of 1997 caused the loss of three buildings. Two of these have already been rebuilt but reconstruction of the General Merchandise will require major funding from some source. This recognition by the New Mexico Preservation Alliance may help to bring this funding to the old town.

Credits: Shakespeare information courtesy official Shakespeare Ghost Town web site.