Silver City, NM
November 8-15, 2019
Silver City sprang to life during the summer of 1870 when, you guessed it, silver was discovered. Miners and merchants flocked to the newly discovered boomtown located in southwestern New Mexico in the foothills of the Pinos Altos Range.
The town's founders decided that Silver City would be "built to last" and in 1880 passed an ordinance requiring masonry construction for new buildings.
Despite all their careful planning, a series of floods between 1890-1910 washed away the original Main Street. It left behind a big ditch 55 feet lower than the original street.
The Warren House was the only brick building along Main Street to survive.
Today, in historic downtown Silver City, the streets are lined with art galleries and studios, restaurants and coffee shops, a university, and museums...mostly in the buildings that were far enough away from Main Street and have withstood the test of time thanks to the 1880 ordinance.
November 9 : Our morning started at the Visitor Center.
We took a few minutes to enjoy the beautiful tile work that was on both sides of the entrance to the building.
In the 1970s the big ditch was slated to to be paved over to add downtown parking. A group of citizens decided they wanted to create a green space and preserve the area. Bridges were built for walking over Big Ditch...
and trails were made for walking along Big Ditch.
One thing we found interesting while walking around town are the high sidewalks...some even had stairs. The person responsible for them is Elizabeth Warren (she lived in the Warren House that survived the flood). When her husband died, she had many different jobs.
One of those jobs was a general contractor and she oversaw the shoring up of the sidewalks and buildings against the floods.
Silver City is home to more than 50 murals. Many of them were completed by the Mimbres Region Arts Council Youth Mural Project.
The Silver City Museum (admission is free, donations appreciated) is located in a restored home that was built in 1881.
One exhibit of interest explained about the flooding in Silver City complete with actual pictures showing the devastation.
But our favorite exhibit was Ranching in Grant County.
The exhibit presents historical photographs, artifacts, and family histories to tell the stories of how ranching in Grant County has changed over the years.
Families migrated to the area from Mexico, Texas, California and the Great Plains bringing with them diversity and traditions. Raising livestock in this area continues to play an important role in the economy and culture of the region today.
Flemming Hall was completed in 1917 to house a gymnasium and science department. Today, the 100+ year old National Register of Historic Building is the home for the university's museum.
The museum is an open, light and climate controlled environment that houses the largest, most comprehensive collection of scientifically excavated prehistoric Mimbres materials from a single Mimbres site.
The excavation site, located 40 miles away is NAN Ranch (NAN Ranch Ruin has also been added to the National Register of Historic Places). Excavations began two decades ago. Artifacts date back to ancient Mimbres culture the thrived in the area about A.D.600 to 1140. The ruin offers the clearest picture to date of who the ancient Mimbrenos that were in relation to their Anasazi and Hohokam neighbors. The picture below tells how Dr. Shafer almost declined the offer to excavate at the ranch...
Joe and I moved quietly and solemnly from shelf to shelf...totally in awe of what we were seeing and totally amazed at what we were reading.
And another room with baskets, candles, awls, cloud blowers, arrowheads, cuffs, etc. I was particularly drawn to the baskets...
I didn't get info on how old the basket is or the material used.
But the sandal is dated 1050 with a checker weave using a whole narrow yucca leaf.
Up next a National Monument and a State Park so stay tuned. Until then,
HAPPY TRAILS !