When I’m travelling I love to see things that are off the beaten path. On my most recent trip to New Mexico I visited a real, live (dead?) ghost town!
My trip was in March of 2019. This was my first time visiting a ghost town. The plan was to drive from where we were staying in Truth or Consequences to Winston, NM, which is just outside of Chloride. We stopped here to use the bathroom and get cold water.
I highly recommend stopping at the Winston General Store before heading to Chloride. Chloride is only 6 minutes away, but you really should use the restroom in Winston. The accommodations in Chloride are…. rustic. (“Spider-y” is a word I would use.) There’s a little rest area in the middle of Chloride, but it’s a step up from a port-a-potty. There is no running water, not even a sink to wash your hands! The bathrooms at the Winston General Store are some of the nicest public restrooms I’ve ever seen, and I pee a lot. You’ll also want to stock up on snacks and beverages while you’re there, because you won’t find any in Chloride.
Once we arrived to town were promptly greeted by this chicken, who I fondly referred to as the Mayor. We were told that we could take the chicken home with us if we wanted, because she didn’t belong to anyone in particular. (We didn’t oblige.)
The first place you’ll need to stop is the Monte Cristo gift shop, where you can buy tickets to the museum. The gift shop is directly across Wall St. from the parking lot. The building was constructed in 1880 and served as a saloon and dance hall until 1884, when it became the town’s schoolhouse. Now it is the gift shop where you can buy some beautiful art & crafts made by local artisans.
You definitely want to visit the museum while you’re in town. The building was a general store from when it was built in 1880 to 1923. Then it was boarded up until it was renovated to be used as the town’s museum. You can see all of things that were left behind when the store was abandoned, some more interesting than others.
We met Don & Dona Edmund, the official curators of the museum and keepers of the town’s history. Dona was with us the whole time we were in the museum and graciously answered all of our questions about its contents and everything in town. She also pointed out some of the more interesting things we shouldn’t miss, such as the safe from the old bank and a missing (presumed dead) miner’s tools.
My actual nightmare was also there, in the form of this child-sized doll. It was made by the REAL Pioneer Woman, Cassie Hobbs. Mrs. Hobbs was one of the original inhabitants of the town; there’s an entire section of the museum dedicated to the things she made. Don and Dona have plans to make a museum in her old workshop, the Doodle Dum, dedicated solely to her life and handiwork.
There is a “Hanging Tree” in the middle of Wall Street. As far as I can tell , no people were ever hanged from the hanging tree. According to the book, people who got too drunk and rowdy were chained to the tree until they sobered up.
We also saw Harry Pye’s cabin, which holds a few more interesting artifacts from the town. Harry Pye was the first person to discover silver ore in the mountains nearby.
This is a dog friendly town, so I got to pet a few friendly dogs while we were walking around, including this lovely spaniel from Missouri.
While you’re out and about in Chloride, please remember that there are still a few residents in town. Don’t take photos of people or their houses. They live in the middle of nowhere for a reason. I made an exception to this rule for this satellite dish on someone’s outhouse.
Cassie also showed us the old bank, which was turned into a restaurant but has since closed due to a lack of business. She was going to have a yard sale this summer so we got first dibs on all of their good stuff!
While you’re in town I recommend buying the book about Chloride, The Stories They Told Us by Donald Edmund, which you can find in the gift shop. Don and his wife Dona moved to Chloride in the 1970’s after wandering through it during a road trip through the American southwest. They have dedicated themselves to the preservation and upkeep of the town ever since. Don wrote this book after interviewing any of the old timers they could find. He formed and maintained friendships with these people, some of whom are eulogized in the book. I pretty much polished off the book on my two flights home a few days later. It’s an interesting read with lots of stories from the original townspeople about, to name a few, travelling to the area from west Texas by covered wagon, death by skunk bite, and even a plane crash and recovery. If you’re interested in nearby Gila National Forest. it mentions some interesting locations you might find nearby within the park.
Speaking of nearby locations.. we looked for the town’s cemetery but could not find it! You can pick up a map in the gift shop, and our hosts gave us directions to the cemetery. We ended up going up a steep, treacherous hill, where I had a panic attack and told my brother that I was going to get out and walk down if he didn’t turn around. If it’s up there, it is not worth seeing, unless you are in an off-road vehicle.
This was definitely a great place to stop with lots of interesting things to see and do! Just remember to take water, and of course, BRING CASH. There’s no internet in the town and thus, no credit card processing.
If you’d like to read about my entire 2019 trip to New Mexico, check out these posts:
- La Paloma Hot Springs, Truth or Consequences, NM
- I Went to the Desert & All I Bought Was ROCKS
- ABQ Zoo
- Riverbend Hot Springs, Truth or Consequences, NM
- Chloride (that’s this one)