Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Scenes from a Ghost Town

Shakespeare, New Mexico
We took a long drive with friends the other day across some of the state to Lordsburg, New Mexico, then up a dirt road to the old ghost town of Shakespeare. A mining town in the 1800s, it was once home to over 3,000 people; a lively place that saw plenty of hard work, lots of hard drinking, some hangings, shootings, gambling, and even a big diamond swindle. When the Hill family came out from Texas looking for a ranch in the 1930s, they came across Shakespeare and bought the town site and the acreage around it. The town, open occasionally to visitors, is in the middle of a working ranch. It's both a State and a National Historic Site.

The Hills, their relatives, and their friends have been working at restoring the place to its 1880s appearance ever since. Devoted volunteers give the tours dressed in historical costumes, and re-enact historical (and semi-historical) events. As the hours went on, we were amazed by their energy and knowledge, and began to feel a little guilty that we had been charged only $5.00 each for the tour.

Here are some scenes from our day in the 1800s. I want you to know that there were times when we looked down at ourselves and were amazed to find that we were dressed in modern clothes, so complete was the immersion of our trip into the past.

Our guide, Keith Wilden

An Army campsite of the 1870s

Soldier played by a member of the Military Committee, Friends of Fort Selden

Exterior of the stage coach station, where the horses were changed for fresh ones...

... and the passengers had just enough time to grab a bite to eat and a bit of liquid refreshment

The kitchen of the Stratford Hotel

Everywhere we looked there were pieces of antique glass and hand-forged hardware

Hopper Shannon, historical blacksmith, demonstrated nail and knife making

Saloon girls playing cards and getting ready to do some shootin.'
Gunfights were reenacted by the Paso del Norte Pistoleros

Little Buckaroo Bob, a great favorite with the folks on the tour

Bob and his dad

"I just love this little cowpoke!"

If you go: 

Be sure to check out the Shakespeare Ghost Town website, and find the upcoming tour dates on the calendar. This town can be seen by tour only; it is not open for folks to just walk around. 

Do what you always do in New Mexico: Take plenty of water, wear sunglasses and a hat, and bring sunblock--this applies any time of the year, not just during the summer months. 

There are public restrooms (indoor plumbing, too--we saw the two-holers used until recently!), but no food or drinks for sale.

Watch your step, this is rattlesnake country. 

The tour takes around two and a half hours, maybe longer if the stories get really elaborate. There aren't many places to sit down; we slept real well in our modern 21st century beds later that night. 

Keep kids under control, as there are all kinds of hazards from sharp rocks and glass, to barbed wire and mine shafts. That Little Buckaroo Bob is a real survivor and was much clucked over by the grandmas on the tour--to the chagrin of his pistol-totin' Pa, who believes in letting kids learn by making their own mistakes!


Margie's Musings said...

Interesting...verry interesting. It sounds like fun!

Sylvia K said...

It does sound like a fun tour! Great looking place! Sounds as if you had a wonderful day! Have a lovely day, Clairz!


Peg said...

What an interesting trip...I"ll have to put that in my list of things to do before I leave the desert southwest...

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I would love to visit this spot!

charlotte g said...

As always, great pics. Volunteers seem really great. This is more of an in-state tour , probably while visiting friends.Which you were able to do.New Mexico has a really colorful history. I'm glad more of it is being preserved.

WasSoggyInSeattle said...

Hmmm... I wanna go!!!! Lovely photos, as always!