Grant County Guide

Alma, five miles north of Glenwood on U.S. 180, was a hideout for Butch Cassidy and his gang. when they worked for the W-S Ranch in the 1890s. It is said the gang members were good workers, and Cassidy was even offered a permanent job there. A post office existed from 1882 to 1896, then again from 1900 to1931. Mail now goes to Glenwood.

North of bustling Silver City and south of the rugged Datil Mountains lies the Gila River Valley of southwestern New Mexico, a place rich in history, beauty and spirit. Nearly eighty miles long (north and south), this area encompasses three distinct eco-zones, scenic vistas which even modestly accessed must be called breathtaking, and a human synergism without parallel in the region.

In 1873, Silver City resident Louis Abraham, a boyhood friend of Henry McCarty as he was known then, described her as a “jolly Irish lady, full of fun and mischief.” But for being the mother of Billy the Kid, history would probably never know the name of Catherine McCarty. One hundred and twenty-five years later, history still knows precious little about her.

Double-E Guest Ranch is a 30,000 acre working Cattle/Guest Ranch which adjoins the legendary 3 million acre Gila Wilderness in southwestern New Mexico, in the small community of Gila. This area is considered by many to be one of the most spectacular in the world - generally untouched and pristine. Rising from an elevation of 4,700 feet at Ranch headquarters on Bear Creek to over 7,000 feet in the Pinos Altos Mountains, the setting at the Ranch offers guests a variety of astonishing landscapes - from wind swept mountaintop vistas, to deep incised vertical rock canyons; from open upland plateaus to peaceful cottonwood and sycamore-lined creek bottoms.

It’s a place where once upon a time the Old and New World came together. Now the past and future are meeting in a little ghost town called Fierro, New Mexico, a few miles north of Silver City in the southwest corner of the state.

Little extras can really enhance the dining experience. After 28 years of being in business, El Paisano’s owner, Natalia Palacios, has learned that giving more than is expected can pay dividends in repeat business. The combination of great value and consistently good food is why El Paisano is one of Silver City’s most popular Mexican restaurants.

You sit around enough campfires or barrooms with enough fisherman and you realize that every one of us is pleased to argue for our favorite fish, favorite fishing spot, and favorite method of pursuing fish. Like the endless debates over guns, game animals, and calibers, these are arguments that won’t go away, and that outdoor writers will forever milk for copy.

From 1747 when Spanish explorers discovered Indians farming in the verdant valley until today, visitors have enjoyed the quiet beauty of the San Francisco River country. Glenwood with its quaint shops, motels, and restaurants, is the center of this valley in West Central New Mexico.

Providing car rental, flight instruction, aircraft rental, aircraft maintenance and Phillips Aviation fuels. At the Grant County Airport, Silver City, NM.

Visitors to the Silver City area will soon find its art scene is alive and thriving. In this part of New Mexico, many artists have been born, raised and nurtured in their art. Others, who have migrated from other parts of the nation and abroad, have helped bring diversity and enrichment to our local culture.

Hot springs in the Gila vary in their accessibility.  A trip to the Middle Fork hot springs, for example, only requires a half hour walk and a couple of river crossings, while others are a full day’s hike and an overnight stay away.  But whether you’re feeling adventurous or mellow, you can always find a chance for a relaxing soak in a beautiful outdoor setting.  With a little exploration, visitors can discover quiet, remote springs.

When my husband and I dug the foundations for our home in the Mimbres Valley of southwestern New Mexico, we found a metate - a large grinding stone - buried two feet deep. We had selected this building site, with its view of a distant mountain peak, because it was close to the Mimbres River but not close enough to be flooded in a rainy season. Now we knew that another family had made this same decision. Perhaps a thousand years ago, they too had chosen this place for their home.

The Spanish journeyed to Santa Rita looking for Cibola, the City of Gold, and instead discovered rich deposits of copper, thanks to a friendly Apache chief who showed them where his people had been mining the shiny metal for untold years. The result was the Santa Rita del Cobre . . . and the beginning of the Kneeling Nun legends . . . legends that will likely persist, as long as she continues to grace the landscape above this Southwest New Mexico community.

Cliff dwellings. What an unremarkable phrase for such a remarkable feat. An entire village carved out of solid rock. Carved not with the bulldozers and explosives that we so casually use today to gouge mortal wounds into Mother Earth, but with primitive tools and back-breaking labor. Carved not to pillage or destroy but to settle into Earth’s protective bosom as children settle into their mothers’ laps.

The history of humanity is a long and complex one. When stripped of all the manifold facts and figures, it really comes down to two key fundamentals: food and sex. Food sustains the living, while sex insures the continuity of that living.

Mildred Cusey spent most o
f her life engaged in the professional aspects of both basics. She was early caterer for the former and later entrepreneur of the latter.

Hidden away in Southwest New Mexico lies the Trail of the Mountain Spirits, a loop drive through the historically rich and beautiful Mimbres Valley, Lake Roberts, and Gila Hot Springs area, still called the Inner Loop by most locals. Intriguing stories about this area abound, beginning with the ancient Mogollon, Mimbreno and Apache Indians and continuing to the 1500s and beyond when Spanish settlers, mountain men, soldiers, miners and cattlemen arrived.

Pinos Altos (Tall Pines) is located about six miles north of Silver City on NM Highway 15. The townsite is located along the Continental Divide at an elevation of 7,067 feet at the southern end of the Pinos Altos Mountains. Pinos Altos is a very old mining town; it was Grant County’s first county seat.

“Pinos Altos? It’s six miles north of Silver City on NM 15.”

Most of the 300 residents of this mountain hamlet will say that far from being an appendage to Silver City, Pinos Altos is a distinctive community in its own right. Looking down on the larger city from an altitude of 7,040 feet, it is ten degrees cooler in the summer and ten degrees brisker in the winter.

Autumn slips across the desert quietly. Although nights grow chill, summer’s heat lingers in the afternoons, and the greenery brought on by summer rains simply fades to dusty olive, bleached straw, and weathered brown. As the soil dries out, mesquites, desert willows, and ocotillo drop their leaves without any fanfare. But here and there where water flows - a spring, stream, an irrigation ditch, or a river - autumn shows in the rich yellows and golds of cottonwood trees.

“The Santa Rita is, perhaps, the most famous mine in Western America, for it was here that the techniques of copper mining were first developed in the Southwest.” So wrote Carey McWilliams in his 1949 book, North From Mexico.

Tucked against rolling mountain foothills at 5,920 feet, Silver City’s mild climate, Victorian charm, friendly people and proximity to the Gila Wilderness have for decades attracted adventurers and people seeking a healthy, low-key lifestyle. Longtime mining and ranching influences commingle with such growing segments as retirees, entrepreneurs, artists and naturalists.

I had flown into Albuquerque, rented a vehicle and driven down to Carrizozo through Sorroco and across the Stallion Station. Severe thunderstorms had moved through the area that day, providing some incredible sights of distant cloud formations with rain shafts and lightning displays. As I drove across Stallion Station, an oryx stood by the fence chewing his cud, a sight that made me do a double take as I had only seen one in a zoo before and had no idea such a critter existed in this country otherwise. I commented to myself that after having read about the Trinity Site bomb test, it was probably just a radioactive mutated range cow deceiving my eyes.

If Grant County is the heart of New Mexico’s metal mining industry, then the Central Mining District is the soul. Bayard, Hurley, and Santa Clara, with a total population of 6300, are the population centers in the District.

Santa Clara, formerly called Central, is nine miles east of Silver City on US 180. The oldest village in the District, its history is closely tied to Fort Bayard. Soldiers from the fort found their recreation in Santa Clara. At one time, some forty working mines in the area produced gold and silver.

By It has been written that behind every great personal fortune lies a crime, and there is probably no better illustration of that adage than the cattle empires of the Old West. New Mexico’s territorial days offer a number of such illustrations, but perhaps none better than the story of the Lyons and Campbell Ranch and Cattle Company of the Gila River country and beyond.

Angus Campbell, a Scotsman, came to New Mexico from California after gold-rushing with his parents. He discovered what became the Gosette Mine on Lone Mountain in the late 1870s, established a foundry in Silver City, and went into business with Thomas Lyons, an Englishman who had recently arrived in the Territory from Wisconsin. The partnership prospered, but the two decided that the future was in cattle and in 1880 sold their mine and foundry and began to acquire land and cattle. The “LC,” as the company was popularly known, began its climb from modest ranch to cattle empire, and its holdings at the turn of the century stretched from Silver City west to Arizona and from Mule Creek south to Animas - more, it was said, than five hundred thousand acres.

It’s no secret why we call New Mexico the Land of Enchantment. Our state possesses some of the nation’s most beautiful natural wonders, including Carlsbad Caverns, Taos’ Moreno Valley and White Sands National Monument.

Having grown up in Silver City at the doorstep of the Gila National Forest, I have always felt very lucky to have come from such a special place. During my time as a Senator, I’ve worked to help promote New Mexico and its splendor as a tourist destination - because it’s important to our people, our economy and also our sense of pride in our home state.

The North Star Road (Forest Route 150 on the Gila National Forest map), an unpaved road connecting New Mexico’s Mimbres Valley with Wall Lake, has an undeserved bad reputation. On checking with the Mimbres Ranger Station, I was cautioned to use a high clearance vehicle. I have driven the entire route several times
, only once with a high clearance vehicle. I cross-examined the Forest Service person about creek crossings and they all seemed to be fine, so I gassed up my Subaru wagon. We loaded it with a picnic supper and took off

For attractive, comfortable, and convenient lodgings in Silver City, no place surpasses the Palace Hotel. The hotel’s charm combines old world elegance with down home Western comfort. Situated on the corner of Broadway and Bullard Streets, the heart of downtown Silver City’s historic district, the Palace Hotel is within walking distance to shops, galleries, and restaurants.

Certain stories are so evocative of time and place, they enter a zone of both fiction and common knowledge. The story of the Johnson Massacre is such a story. It has been retold in books and magazines claiming to report real life in early New Mexico. The story has been borrowed by the movies, for its dramatic qualities give themselves to the medium of film. Let me tell you the legend, and the real incident which gave rise to it.

Victorio’s Mimbres Apaches were concentrated family units which had once populated the Mimbres and Gila Rivers, and Mogollon Mountains. Through attrition from contact with encroaching Spanish, Mexican, and American settlers, their numbers dwindled, and in 1870 the Mimbres Apaches were given a small reservation, Ojo Caliente or Warm Springs, northwest of present Truth or Consequences.

For More Information: Glenwood Area Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 183
Glenwood, NM 88039
(505) 539-2711
Fax: (505) 539-2722
Silver City/Grant County
Chamber of Commerce
201 N. Hudson
Silver City, NM 88061
(505) 538-3785
(800) 548-9378

Silver City/Grant County
Economic Development Corporation
P.O. Box 2672
Silver City, NM 88062
FAX: 505-538-6341