Hillsboro, New Mexico

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Sierra County, New Mexico
Ghost Towns

Black Range Moutains, New Mexico


Hillsboro General Store

Saloon & Brothel

From Boom to Bust

a city. The year is 1877 Dave Stitzel, Daniel Dugan and Joe Yeankee have just been assayed to reveal an amazingly rich lode. The hills around the Percha Creek are touched by the magic of gold and a boom town is born. The Black Range mining range is about 125 miles long, and not more than twelve miles across at its widest point. The range follows the east slope of the Continental Divide and may be said to begin at Cook's Peak, for it's lead mines. Running north from Cook's Peak the great fault up at Tierra Blanca, and a little further north on Percha Creeks, where it carries gold, silver, and copper with a manganese base. Even though the magic of gold brought on the population boom, the silver mining in Kingston, Gold Dust, Hillsboro, Andrews, Terra Blanca, Lake Valley maintained the boom in the Black Range until the demonetization of silver was the death of these boom towns in the late 1890's.

Famous mines of the Kingston group are the Grey Eagle mine on the South Percha, the Virginia and the Comstock on the North Percha, and the Bullion, the Superior, the Comstock, the Brush Heap, and the Lady Franklin on Old Kentuck Mountain. Eastward on an offshoot lies the town of Hillsboro, with the placers of Animas Peak near by, and nine miles southeast of the main range on a volcanic butte is Lake Valley with the empty but once celebrated Bridal Chamber of silver ore. The Black Range mining district ends near Fairview and Chloride. All these mines have brought millions to their owners, and large sections of the Black Range may still be developed. The booms in these districts came between the years 1882 and 1896.

Kingston, New Mexico. One of the wildest towns in the Wild West, Kingston once had 22 saloons, 14 groceries and general stores, gambling halls, a brewery, three newspapers ("The Clipper," "The Shaft" and "The Advocate"), restaurants, hotels and a theater where actress Lillian Russell performed. Albert Fall, later infamous in the Teapot Dome Scandal when he was secretary of the Interior, was once a Kingston miner. Other famous visitors: Mark Twain, President Grover Cleveland, Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid and Black Jack Ketchem. Sadie Orchard, a native of London, operated a brothel in Kingston (on Virtue Street) and later in Hillsboro.

Kingston declined when silver prices dropped and deposits ran out. The post office closed in 1957. The Victorio Hotel, Percha Bank and other old buildings still stand and there are today 32 permanent residents. A brass bell cast in 1877 and used to call firemen and sound mail call is still at the fire station on Main Street.

a city. In Lake Valley, the year 1878, a blacksmith named John Leavitt took a lease on a claim and two days later discovered the most fabulous lode of silver the world has ever known. Called the "Bridal Chamber", it was a hollow in the hillside with walls of solid horn silver. Before it was all over, a spur from the railroad was extended into the "Bridal Chamber" and ore deposited directly into the ore cars. Total production from the "Chamber" was close to $2,775,000.

The walls of the subterranean mine were lined with silver so pure it was shipped unsmelted to the mint. The strike produced 2.5 million ounces of silver, including one chunk, featured at the 1882 Denver Exposition, valued at $7,000 (when silver sold for $1.11 an ounce.) The mine manager was killed by Apaches a few days after the discovery.

A stage stop and railhead, Lake Valley grew to 4,000, with 12 saloons, three churches, two newspapers, a school, stores, hotels, stamp mills and smelters. The 1893 silver panic wiped it out and a fire destroyed main street in 1895.