52 States in 8 Months

Winston, Chloride, T or C, Las Cruces and Mesilla

Posted in Las Vegas to El Paso by Ulf on May 11, 2009

When we returned our rental boat on the Elephant Buttes lake, we were told that “New Mexico is neither New nor Mexico”. Well, at that point we couldn’t compare it with Mexico yet. But to convince us that New Mexico isn’t new we were told to visit some of the ghost towns near by. That sounded good, because we were just about to visit a couple of other cities in that area. At first we drove through Winston, a place which still has a post office (second picture). This is where we dropped a lot of the postcards which we wrote during our trip… I was quite surprised when I heard that they actually arrived!

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I just found out that Winston is already considered a Ghost Town according to ghosttowns.com, but the place which we actually wanted to see is called Chloride. You can also find it on ghosttowns.com, and on Google Maps. Right, Chloride is the place where the road ends. They did a lot of silver mining there in the 19th century, so that’s maybe why chemistry-related names were chosen for these towns.

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Now, you can obviously see that this place hasn’t been totally abandoned. There are still a few people living there, and they call it a ghost town because in earlier days it was a much larger settlement with a few thousand inhabitants. One of the people in this lonely place is Don, a former rocket engineer who used to work on control systems for aircraft navigation. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Nowadays he runs a little museum and tries to keep the place in shape.

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On the pictures you’ll find a mechanical lawn mower (both Don and I believe that it doesn’t work), some advertisement for cheap guns (around $3, but you have to pay another 40ct for your first 50 bullets) and a dynamite detonator. Yes, we arrived in the Wild West! :-)

Next on our route was Truth or Consequences, or “T or C” as the locals call it. Visiting this place was on my To-Do-list ever since I saw it on a map for the first time. Originally called “Hot Springs”, the town changed its name in 1950. It adopted the name of a game show. There are some things which can only happen in America, right?
A few years ago they even made a movie called “Truth or Consequences, NM“, but from what Wikipedia says it must be really really lousy: “in its widest release the film appeared in seven theatres”. That says it all.

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There was not much to do in T or C, so we went on to Las Cruces and Mesilla. Both towns are very close to each other. In the 1840s there was the American-Mexican war which ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty defined the border between the United States of America and the United Mexican States. Mexico had lost about 55% of its pre-war territory. Unfortunately the maps were not very accurate in those days. On the official map of the treaty, the position of El Paso was shifted by about 40 miles, so the territory conflicts went on. In 1850 the Mexican government sent settlers to found Mesilla, claiming this territory would belong to Mexico. This was somehow true because the Rio Grande formed the border between the USA and Mexico in this area before the Gadsden Purchase. Now look at what happened to the Rio Grande in the 19th century:
This explains why Mesilla is a part of Las Cruces today :-D. Just as all Mexican or pseudo-Mexican towns, Mesilla has a city plaza with a church next to it. Sounds familiar, right?

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After having seen Mesilla we went back to Las Cruces, crushed into some cheap motel and fell asleep (we got up at about 4:30 in the morning since we had to bring Andi and Matthias to the airport, that’s why we were quite tired).


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