Whether you believe in ghosts or not, ghost towns are fun.
We headed out to Chloride, a two-hour-plus drive from Las Cruces on a fine spring day without any wind in the forecast. As soon as we turned off the freeway in Truth or Consequences and onto U.S. Highway 52 the sights got exciting. I discovered a great old-time truck in a dirt lot in Cuchillo and have subsequently turned the photo into a cool linoleum cut card for my ever-growing print collection.
Outside Winston, we stopped for a strong cup of latte at the food truck on the right (open Thursdays through Sundays). Their tacos are supposedly great, too, but we weren’t hungry for lunch yet.
Finally, we arrived in Chloride. People who have been in Las Cruces long enough (since before 2006) will recognize the Grafton Cabin that stood Downtown for over 25 years before making room for the roundabout. The cabin was then moved to Chloride and is part of the museum today.
Ah, yes, the museum: What a treasure trove this is! Quite literally a time capsule of the early days of the 20th century, boarded up in the 20s and reopened in 1979. It stayed in pristine condition – except for dust and critters. The new owners, the Edmunds took it upon themselves to turn it into a museum. Three and a half years later, they were done with cleaning and stabilizing the wooden structure and opened the doors to the public. And the curious visitor gets to step into a pioneer store like 100 years ago. This is not only for history buffs; everyone will find something here to pique their interest. As a textile engineer, I was intrigued by the little handheld tool that measures how much fabric is left on a dock without unrolling it. Ingenious!
My husband and I spent a long time exploring while our host, the daughter of the Edmunds, patiently answered all our questions. What a treat! We both agreed this should be a state park. It is so unique.
Next door to it is the Monte Cristo Gift Shop and Gallery where local (Sierra County) artists exhibit and sell their works. It’s another house with a colorful past, from schoolhouse to saloon and dance hall. Both are open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
What I found most fascinating were all the bits and pieces of historic facts that you won’t find in any history book. For example: The town of Chloride offered any single woman who was willing to live there a piece of land for free. They must have been desperate out there. But it was – and still is – off the beaten path. And yet, in its heyday the town counted more than 3,000 inhabitants.
Going with the times, Chloride can now offer cabins for vacationers, five full hook-up RV spots, and as soon as the pandemic is over the Chloride Bank Café will hopefully open again as well. For hikes, just step out the backyard, or drive the dirt road through town and go as far as your vehicle can handle. There are rolling hills all around, a hiker’s paradise. And with an altitude of over 6,000 feet, it’s noticeably cooler than in Las Cruces here. We know we will be back soon.
For information you can go the pioneerstoremuseum.com and start discovering the past. For a fun day all you need is a tank full of gas and some time.
Enjoy your day!
Of German origin, Gabriele Teich has called Las Cruces her home for more than 20 years – and loved every minute of it, hiking the mountains in the immediate surrounding area and all over this beautiful state.