We had pulled off the side of the road so that the car behind us could de-magnetized itself from the rear-end of our car, and get on his way…she said tongue-in-cheek.
I looked across the road and saw a herd of horses grazing in the pasture and then ambling towards the lean-to that must have held grain. There was one lone stallion high on the rocks watching over the herd. It was then that we saw the other sign pointing us to Elizabethtown.
We had been told that there wasn’t much to see but we filled up a couple of hours taking in different sights and buildings. While I love the written history of places, I enjoy “hearing” the story told by looking at old buildings, pictures and land. We crossed Hwy 38 and ambled down the gravel road trying not to kick up too much dust.
We turned left and received further instructions from this truck. It was hard to keep your eyes on the road because this area is so beautiful.
Side Note: I didn’t pick up a sense of despair or sadness from this deserted town. Perhaps because there is a descendant of one of the original citizens that is reviving it. I wonder if some of the early citizens were relieved to be moving to another town since I’d read that Elizabethtown was known for being a layover spot for outlaws. Its cemetery is known to be comparable to Boothill and other wild west towns.
This building is supposedly Froelick’s Store, once thriving and now just a memory, almost aching to tell its story. Hard to imagine that this building serviced 7,000 people at one point.
A few feet from the store were the remains of the Mutz Hotel. We were about to learn the history of that building. One sad aspect of these remains is the number of people who have taken stones from the building for souvenirs. I can’t imagine what they’ll do with the stones once they arrive home and can’t remember why they have them. Pieces of history gone due to the insensitivity of others.
Once we arrived at the museum, which is a group of old buildings that have been moved into the area, we were met by Beni-Jo Fulton, curator of the museum. She has kept the town open for the public. She is also a descendant of one of the families who lived in Elizabethtown.
Beni-Jo ushered us into the “theater”, a small one room house, and inserted a video that explained the history of Elizabethtown. As the story of the town unfolded there was an older man featured called “Mighty Whitey”. He sang a couple of songs, while playing a guitar placed in his lap, that wove part of the story together for us. Mighty Whitey looked a lot like photos you see of old miners, grizzly, beginnings of a white beard and missing some teeth. It somehow made him endearing and his songs more meaningful. Now, whenever I hear Ghostriders in the Sky, I’ll think of him.
In 1866, Captain William H. Moore was given some “pretty rocks” by an Indian friend. Capt. Moore realized that what he was holding in his hand was copper. He had his friend take him to where he’d found the rock. It was there at the 12,441 foot Baldy Mountain (pictured above), just across the Moreno Valley from the 13,161 foot Wheeler Peak (the highest point in New Mexico), that Capt. Moore’s life forever changed. Because not only was there copper, there was also gold.
In 1867, Capt. Moore and his brother, John, opened a general store that sold supplies to the miners. In 1868, John Moore and other businessmen incorporated the village and John named the town after his daughter, Elizabeth. It later became known as E-Town by the locals.
Side Note: Elizabeth (1863 – 19??) lived her entire life in Elizabethtown. She was a school teacher, married Joseph Lowery and had eight children, who either lived in the town or close by. Elizabeth is buried in the town cemetery, a lasting legacy to the place named after her. Pictured above is her home across the valley from Elizabethtown.
The town quickly grew from 400 residents to 7,000 at its peak and boasted seven saloons, three dance halls, five stores, a school, and two churches. One of several hotels, the Mutz Hotel was built by George W. Mutz, a rancher and cattleman of the area. The above photo, taken around 1943, shows the abandoned Mutz Hotel before it deteriorated.
Another contributor to the video about Elizabethtown’s history said that he remembered when he and his sister were quite young, the family would go to the hotel’s second floor dance hall and dance to the music. When the children grew tired, they were put to sleep on the window ledges, which were evidently quite wide.
After watching the video we toured some of the small buildings filled with antiques.
Above are photos of the Mutz family along with Mrs. Mutz’s wedding dress. There were several other pieces of clothing on display including a pair of very fuzzy, furry chaps!
The White Horse Saloon and a building that housed the tack for the horses are just a few of the buildings that are on the land.. They give you a feel for what the old mining town might have been.
The poles for a tee-pee sat among various bed frames, hip baths and an old iron stove with ashes that declared it still worked. I suppose it’s feasible that a tee-pee could have been erected there since it was an Indian who showed Capt. Moore to this place. However, I’m thinking the Indian probably stayed in one of the cabins!
One cabin had this forlorn woman sitting on the bed, obviously still waiting for her true love to return. She was last heard to be singing, “I’m tired, tired of love uninspired. Let’s face it. I’m tired.” a little ditty by Elizabethtown’s minstrel singer, Mel Brooks.
As happens with a lot of mines, Elizabethtown’s mine had played out by 1917 and the gold rush boom was over. Some of the people in town slowly started moving away leaving their homes abandoned because there wasn’t anyone to buy them. Others took their houses apart and moved everything down to Therma (later to be named Eagle Nest) over the next couple of years. By 1931, the post office officially closed their doors and Elizabethtown was left to the elements of nature and its former inhabitants memories..
The Elizabethtown Cemetery sits on a hill overlooking the Moreno Valley. It’s a serene setting that makes you want to linger and a final tribute to those who contributed, lawfully or unlawfully, to Elizabethtown’s history.
A light breeze gently blows over old graves and recent graves. It seems to be a town that died…and yet, won’t die.
Elizabethtown may have had a fast and furious history but it’s easy to see why people settled there, other than for the copper and gold. Maybe the views of the Moreno Valley explains why more and more people are trying to revive the old town. Wouldn’t you love to send out moving announcements with this photo?
Gruesome Detail: It appears that not far from Elizabethtown there was an evil person by the name of Charles Kennedy. He had a couple of spare rooms in his house so he would invite travelers to stay overnight to rest from their travels. However, once in the house, they never left and their rest became eternal. He would murder them, cut them up and slowly dispose of their bodies.
When his Indian wife discovered that he had killed their son, he locked her in a room and then proceeded to get drunk. When she heard him snoring in a drunken stupor, she climbed up the chimney and walked 19 miles to Elizabethtown to tell the authorities what he’d done. A group of vigilantes, including the notorious Clay Allison, rode out to Kennedy’s house. They brought him back to town and dragged his body behind a horse up and down the center of Elizabethtown until he was dead and…continued long after he was dead, so vile was his deed.
Remember the herd of horses I told you about in the beginning? Well, I fell in love with this Pinto Princess. The other horses in the herd were beautiful as well. But this one caught my eye until…..
that lone stallion, from high on the ledge in the beginning of this story, came trotting by. He literally stood by the fence in front of where the Pilot was taking pictures and blocked his view. We got the message:
Don’t mess with my ladies!
We’re looking forward to exploring more of the ghost towns around us. Maybe at some point we can all share our scary stories. Until next week…
Stay strong and steady with the wind always blowing at your back as you travel down the road to your next adventure.
Until next week…keep creating Sentimental Journeyz in your RV.
I’ve been doing research this past week for one of the many things that we plan to do while in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Visit ghost towns. While the history behind many of them is interesting…it’s also sad.
As history has shown, it seems to continuously repeat itself, so shows these deserted towns. Hard work, very little money and always moving your dream on to somewhere else, leaving hearts and homes empty.
We love history and seek it out as much as we can. From our brief time in New Mexico earlier this spring we saw why it’s known as the Land of Enchantment. Now, we’re ready to explore its past.
I’d started a list of ghost towns that we’ll be close to; Agua del Lobo, Amizette, Glen Woody, La Belle, etc. to name but a few. Most of these places now just hold memories and maybe a scattering or two of bricks where home sites had been built with hope.
North of Albuquerque, in Hagen, NM, sits the remains of the once Grand Hotel built because the town had been growing from all the coal mining. The railroad would be running through this town and, it did for six years until the mines played out. The once thriving town was deserted leaving the buildings to crumble into themselves to mark an era gone by.
Mogollon was another cast off because of failed metal values after WWI. The town was started in the late 1880’s and lasted until the late 1940’s. Fires and floods contributed to its decline. It’s now a historical site made famous by a gold and silver mine called the Little Fannie. Mogollon is about 12 miles northeast of Glenwood.
Cuchillo is another ghost town located just 15 miles west of Truth or Consequences in southern New Mexico. While the town has mainly been deserted it does boast a population of 35. Those residents have been there a long time. It’s not known how many, there are other reported residents of the supernatural type…that make loud noises and go “Bump” in the night! Truly!
Josh Bond, current owner of the Old Cuchillo Bar and Store, rents the place out to interested people. It’s also listed for sale. Here’s your chance to have your own little ghost town.
I’m always open to learning about new things but I have to tell you that sometimes I’m shocked beyond belief. Here’s why. It appears that a high-tech ghost town is going to be built for 1 billion dollars! Yes, you read that right. That’s a photo above of how part of it will look.
The new ghost town will be built near Hobbs, NM as a testing site for new technology, courtesy of Pegasus-Global Holdings. Uh, don’t get too excited though. No people will be allowed to live there.
On the upside however, it will create a lot of jobs for the people in NM. If you’re interested in reading more about it you can go to this link Pegasus-Global Holdings and read all about it. Who would have ever guessed that someone would actually build a ghost town?
A lot of people died while trying to realize their dreams. Mines played out, accidents happened and fires that could start at a moments notice destroyed towns, people and dreams. That’s where the sadness lingers.
We’ll tread respectfully on the ground that many others crossed before us and learn more about the history of this Enchanted Land.
Stay strong and steady with the wind always blowing at your back
as you travel down the road to your next adventure.
Until next week…keep creating Sentimental Journeyz in your RV.
The other day I was reading the RealTexasBlog.com, a wonderful blog that I follow, and the topic was a Texas Bucket List for places to visit in 2011. This blog is written by David Werst, with contributions of Real Texas Recipes and videos by his wife Ramona. In this particular blog, David invited all readers to contribute to the Texas Bucket List so that we could all share in Texas’ great history and the land. David is a newspaper editor/publisher and shares his love for all things Texas on his website, including Texas Tidbits.
That got me to thinking about the bucket list that the Pilot and I already had going for when we were finally on the road in our RV. We love Texas and will always be loyal to it so David’s article was very timely. I’ll be checking regularly at the Real Texas Blog to see what readers recommend for places to visit in Texas.
We already had Fredericksburg and the surrounding Hill Country on our bucket list. Fredericksburg is a beautiful German settlement that still has the Sunday Houses that were built over 100 years ago. Most of them are now quaint bed and breakfasts. The German food is superior, along with the wide variety of shops for every shopping pleasure imaginable. I have already been to Fredericksburg a couple of times but the Pilot has never been.
One of the things I wanted to show the Pilot was the Nimitz Museum, now known as The National Museum of the Pacific War, and is exclusively dedicated to the Pacific and Asiatic Theaters in World War II. It’s an impressive museum and a emotional walk back in history. Another reason the Pilot will enjoy this museum is because when he was based in Guam with Continental Airlines, Admiral Nimitz was looked upon with absolute awe and respect from all who live in the wartime Pacific areas. The Pilot visited the counterpart museum of the Pacific in Guam.
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was a much decorated and devoted Navy man. The Pilot will want to spend a lot of time looking at the different exhibits. He was in the Navy too doing helicopter search and rescue missions during two tours of Viet Nam. We’ll linger as long as he wants. For more information on this unique museum, go to http://pacificwarmuseum.org
After leaving Fredericksburg, we’ll go down the road just a bit and stop at The Johnson Settlement. This is where Lyndon B. Johnson’s family had settled in the 1860′s and was restored by the former president after he left office. This living history farm is like walking straight into the late 1800′s, complete with guides who are dressed in period clothing. You are shown through the house and the barn that includes canned foods and a look at how life was during that time. I was fascinated by the fly paper hanging from the ceiling and the crushed egg shells drying in the oven.
NOTE: They dried the egg shells out, crushed them up and fed them back to the chickens to give them more calcium. Recycling even before it was “in”.
If our timing is just right, say we arrived in Johnson City in late November, we would be able to see the Lights Spectacular, Hill Country Style and watch the courthouse lighting ceremony. This is billed as “the Centerpiece of one of the biggest shows on the Texas Hill Country Regional Christmas Lighting Trail.” Shoot, count me in!
All around this area are wineries and more scenic spots that are too numerous to mention. We would wind up our tour of the Hill Country in San Antonio and eat at the Tip Top Restaurant. Of course, if you’ve followed this blog you know that I will be finding some out of the way places to eat great Tex-Mex food. After all, it’s purported to have started here with the Chili Queens. Oh, we would also see the Alamo because you can’t come to San Antonio and not see it.
Next on our bucket list is visiting Quartzite, Arizona. We’ve read so much about this town and how popular it is with RVers. We want to see it too! While in Arizona, after visiting with family, we want to see some of the ghost towns…and you can’t leave Arizona without visiting the Grand Canyon.
We are already scheduled to be in Corpus Christi in April of this year for the Pilot’s Viet Nam Navy Helicopter Squadron (HS-6) Reunion. We’ll be touring the USS Lexington where the Pilot did his first carrier landing qualifications. He will also present a symposium concerning rescues by his squadron during the Viet Nam War. It’s a moving time and makes you realize how much these men sacrificed for our country.
We then plan on being at the Oshkosh Air Show this year whether we’re in the RV by then or not. The air show is being held July 25-31, 2011. Several of the Pilot’s Navy buddies are planning on being there too, so it will be another mini-reunion with a spectacular air show to cap things off. Oshkosh is said to be the biggest airshow in the world believe it or not!
Also on our bucket list is Chincoteague Island, Virginia. The island sits on Virginia’s eastern shore, close to Maryland. This will enable us to see the island and then see the Pilot’s brother and a close family friend.
Chincoteague made our list after we saw a program on CBS News Sunday Morning. We watched in awe as we saw wild horses making their annual trek and knew we had to see it in person. Here is a short explanation of the event taken from their website:
Two herds of wild horses make their home on Assateague Island, separated by a fence at the Maryland-Virginia line, and they are often seen wandering the beaches, roadways, trails and campgrounds on the island. These small but sturdy, shaggy horses have adapted to their environment over the years by eating dune and marsh grasses and drinking fresh water from ponds. While they appear tame, they are wild, and Park Rangers urge visitors not to feed or pet them. The Maryland herd is managed by the National Park Service. The Virginia herd is owned by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company and allowed by permit to graze on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Each year the Virginia herd is rounded up for the internationally recognized Pony Penning and Auction.
For more information on this wondrous event, go to www.chincoteague.com/pony/ponies.
We want to stop in Georgia and eat at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, home of Fried Green Tomatoes…the food and the movie. I had to laugh as I read their menu. There was a request at the bottom of the page saying, “Please, do not steal the menu.”
And, of course, roam on over to Savannah to experience southern charm and perhaps Paula Deen’s restaurant.
These are just a few of the spots that have made our bucket list. So, we tip our hat off to David Werst for bringing the subject up and reminding us to update our list.
As I read back over this it looks like we’re doing an eating tour but that’s not really the case, even though I adore cooking. We plan to soak up the atmosphere everywhere we go. What better way to learn more about our country than to visit places that catch you eye…and heart?