|Mining camps of the old west were generally
all male affairs. To attract the fairer sex, some ingenuity had to be
applied. In the early days of Chloride, a seat on the city council
was offered to the father of the first newborn child "if it is known who
he is". Such was life in New Mexico mining towns of the 1880s.
Chloride made its start with the discovery of silver by Harry Pye in 1879. Eventually the mother load was found. Unfortunately it was the beginning of the end for Pye who was killed by Apaches a few months later. Despite Pye's misfortune his find got the attention of other area miners who returned in 1881. While still facing further Indian attacks, they managed to hang on and establish the town.
Once established Chloride grew quickly. Within six months it could boast of eight saloons, three merchandise stores and three restaurants. It also claimed a stop on the Pioneer Stage Line that gave access to the rail depot at Engle, 50 miles to the southeast. At its peak, Chloride's population was something on the order of 3000 inhabitants.
|Chloride's population declined rapidly after
the 1893 devaluation of silver, but as with all living ghost towns, it was
never totally abandoned. Reputed to have hit a low of four people in the
1940s, the town today is still called home by some dozen residents and at
least thirty original buildings still remain. The main restoration effort
is being lead by Edmund family and a small group of volunteers. The most notable example of this work is
the Pioneer Store Museum. When the building was first reopened after being
closed for over seventy years, it was found to contain all of the original
fixtures, furnishings and merchandise, along with piles of original town
documents and photographs. Due to an ongoing restoration and cataloging
effort today's visitor can view the artifacts and the store much as it was
in the old mining days.
Next door to the museum sits the old Monte Cristo saloon and Dance Hall. Fully restored after 50 years it now houses the Monte Cristo Gift Shop and Co-op Gallery featuring the work of local artists.
|Just behind the museum sits a small RV park
and the original cabin of Mr. Pye, now converted to a cozy vacation rental
with all the modern conveniences.
The latest restoration project "The Bank" can be seen as a work in progress. The building was originally built to be a bank but the deal fell through at the last moment. Of course the only reasonable option at that point was to convert it into a saloon which retained the name "The Bank".
|The town site is located some 38 miles northwest of T or C. From I-25 take Exit 83 (NM-181/US-85) towards Cuchillo / Monticello. Turn left onto NM-181/US-85. Turn left onto NM-52. At approximately 27 miles you'll reach the town of Winston. Turn left onto Chloride road with a slight right to CR-C007 after 0.8 miles. Another 0.8 miles will bring you into town.|
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