Saturday, November 30, 2019

Silver City, New Mexico

Rose Valley RV Ranch
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.
 Big Ditch Park was also developed just below the Warren House.   I think this is much better than a paved parking lot ! 

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.

Nearly half of Grant County's 4,000 square miles is home to livestock.  

November 12 : We also enjoyed time at the Western New Mexico University Museum.  WNMU has been an important part of Silver City since 1893.  

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.

Sometime after A.D.1128, the Mimbres had a room dedicated for brewing maize beer.  The large vessel shown here holds 147 liters...that is 39 gallons of beer !  

The lower floor is available for visitors as well.  There is a room with cabinets full of pottery that was not identified. 
And another room with baskets, candles, awls, cloud blowers, arrowheads, cuffs, etc.  I was particularly drawn to the baskets...

and sandals.  

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.

There is no admission (donations accepted) to visit the museum.  If you are interested in pottery, artifacts, lots of information, and ancient cultures this is definitely a worthwhile stop when in Silver City.  We almost missed the museum...we had planned to go to the Catwalk Recreation Area (which we will have to do next time we are there) but woke up to a very chilly morning and decided on an indoor activity instead.  Afterwards, we had lunch as Jalisco Cafe.  We enjoyed that too !

Up next a National Monument and a State Park so stay tuned.  Until then, 



  1. We never made it to Silver City. After reading this post I'm really sad we missed it.

    1. Hey guys! Well, you have a lot to, chuck wagon dinners and those sweet pups keep you pretty busy. And lots of friends around too!
      The museums in Silver City were my favorite...can you tell? Not so excited to visit art galleries and such.

  2. We really enjoyed this town and the surrounding area.

    1. I read all your blog posts about Silver City Lisa. We would love to return and do some of the hikes you and Hans did.

  3. We bought gas in Silver City on our way to the National Monument. We certainly missed a lot by not giving the town a chance.

    1. The museums are worth the stop next time Jeff...we really enjoyed the WNMU museum with all the pottery.

  4. I'm so sorry we were snowed out, but we will return. We are thinking of visiting next Sept/Oct. There is still a lot of areas in NM we need to see for a longer time. Silver City we will be at the top. Thanks for the information. What a nice VC and that museum is amazing. I LOVE looking at all the wonderful artifacts. You are getting me very excited.

    1. You will love the museum Pam. There is a lot of hiking there too! I think Sept/Oct would be a great time to go. We had a couple of really chilly days.

  5. We loved seeing the museum at the university. Great pottery display.

    1. Yes it is...I’m sure we missed a lot of info and would enjoy going again!

  6. WOW--I can tell we missed a LOT when we did one of those drive through visits we were famous for in our early RVing days!!! We liked Silver City so much though it was on our list of places we might like to live full time. Thanks for the tour!

    1. We would consider it also as a place to live in if it wasn’t such a long drive to Tucson for doctors, etc.

  7. We enjoyed our visit to Silver City very much, but we clearly missed a lot!!!! I guess that comes with not visiting the Visitor Center first! We'll do just that the next time.

    The pots, baskets and sandals was fascinating to me and I wondered why the sidewalks all had stairs! Now I know, thanks Gay. When we were there, the path along "Main Street" was being used for a drug deal and we veered off quickly. I won't walk there again.

    1. Yikes! Sorry you had that experience...totally scary! We only saw a couple of homeless men that we completely ignored and they didn’t bother us. Love the museum!

  8. That tile wall at the VC - wow!! Bill's mother was born in Silver City and there's so many wonderful things to enjoy - your post makes me want to most it to the top of the list. Loving your longer hair :-))

    1. Now that is a cool fact to write about! There’s another famous Bill’s mom from Silver City too...Billy the Kid! Thanks for the hair compliment! I’m caught between wanting it to grow and it driving me crazy! We will see how long I can hold out before a hair cut...🤪!