Monday, October 24, 2016

Silver City, New Mexico

 Silver City New Mexico was founded as a town in the 1870's after silver was found near there in enough quantity to cause a boom town. But the European Spanish had been here long before that and the Native Americans long before the Spanish came. The Cliff Dwellers were in this area long before the Apaches that were here when the Spanish came. The Apaches didn't like new-comers in their land and they fought the Spanish, Mexicans, and Americans for a long time. Silver City is now made up of many cultures, and seems to stay at a population of about 10,000 people over the last 45 years that I have either visited or lived in the area. Mostly it has been visiting like this time was. As we were already tired from doing a good bit of walking most of the photos of Silver City were taken from the motor home as we drove through. We weren't as interested in a town we already knew well as we were of the Gila National Forest and the Gila Cliff Dwellings. The town of Silver is in Grant County and considered the gate way to the forest and cliff dwellings and any other interesting outdoor areas. Silver is, also, home to Western New Mexico University where my sisters and I went to collage. The town has most stores like Walmart and grocery stores, plus many, many interesting little gift shops and second hand stores. Silver is still known as a mining and ranching town. There are several large ranches in the area and lots of smaller ones, especially near the towns of Cliff, Glendale, and Reserve to the northwest of Silver. To the southeast of Silver, just outside of the little town of Santa Clara is the Santa Rita Copper Mine. ( I will have photos and more about the mine in another post)

 Distance views of Silver City. The Knelling Nun can almost be seen in this view.
 Headed north into the forest. The W on the hill is for Western New Mexico University.

Some views of Western NMU.

The trees are hiding most of this older Catholic church that used to ring the church bells every hour and you could hear the bells all over town. Everyone told time by the bells. I can't say for sure but I have heard that it isn't real bells now but a recording. I tried to research it some but couldn't find anything. You can see the top of the church like this from my parents home on D Street. The church is on Market Street.

Views of the Grant County Courthouse as Silver City is the County seat. This courthouse has been here over a hundred years.

 Old buildings in downtown Silver City. One or both of these used to be hotels in the early 1900's.
The old Grant County Bank building. Not sure what it is used for now. The clock has been a well known fixture in Silver since the building was built over a hundred years ago.

Downtown Silver City

 These rock walls are all over Silver City. I really don't know much of the history of them. But in the early 1900's they were build around most of the residences in town. My parents had them around their home. Most of these rock walls are built to last, never falling down. There are a few around the old buildings that were the area where there were many residents that had what was known as consumption, which meant about any kind of repertory illness. It was the reason my grandparents came here in the late 1930's as my granddad had been 'gassed' in WW1 and was told he had 6 months to live and might do better in Silver City than he was doing in Texas. So they moved here and Granddad lived for 16 years doing odd jobs and prospecting and some mining when he wasn't in the hospital at Fort Bayard or in Albuquerque. My mom always considered Silver City her home even though she had lived many other places while my dad was in the Air Force. I guess my sisters and I consider it our home away from home.
 Old church in downtown area.
 This is the Silver City Museum. I worked here for a few months while Lee was in the Navy. Originally this building was a private residence of the Ailman family. Its an odd built house with 3 stories, with the stair cases being really steep and narrow. I'm not sure when it became a museum but I know it was by 1970. There is another nice museum at the University.

This is the Silver City high school where my sisters graduated.

Looking down D Street to where the hillside is that has never had any houses on it but there are still a few old mining holes on it. My parents house was at the base of the hill as seen in the next photo. You can see just the top of the house in this photo. We didn't stop as we don't know who lives there now. You can almost see the short little rock walls in front that I spoke about with one of the other photos. Behind this house there is a steep little canyon that has Yankee Creek running through it. Yankee Creek actually runs through part of downtown Silver City after it leaves this canyon. The birds flock to the creek and the trees that surround it. We have seen just about any kind of bird that there is in New Mexico except waterfowl - sparrows, chickadees, blue birds, bluejays, hawks, owls, eagles, thrush, mockingbirds, hummingbirds and others. We have also seen lots of skunks, a few raccoons, javalina (wild pigs, but not a feral pig) deer, fox, coyotes and once a bear. This area is full o most of the native plant life found around Silver City and a lot of non-native plants that have gone wild there as the seeds blew in or were brought by birds and animals. It was an interesting place to live and still be able to say you lived in town.

This is the dead end section of D Street but there is a house on each side of this house. So 3 homes on the dead end. If you look up D Street from this house you see, first Market Street where the church is that rings the bells about 3 blocks down Market St. Looking across Market and on up D St. for about 4 blocks you can see Western NM University where we went to collage. Since it was so close we usually walked up to our classes getting some exercise before sitting at a desk. My sisters lived in this house with my parents when they were in collage. Lee and I were married and lived in the house to the right side of my parents so I walked to collage, too. Dad was working for the forest service at that time after retiring from the Air Force and Lee was just out of the Navy and working as a mechanic at Birchfield Motor Co. that sold cars and worked on them. I noticed that Birchfield's is now a feedstore.

 Leaving Silver City and headed for Ft. Bayard NM south of Silver.
Santa Clara, NM

Other different views of Silver City. That's the University about half way up the hillside.

The Drifter Hotel, restaurant and bar where Lee and I hung out with our friends a lot when we lived in Silver City from about 1973 to 1976 when we moved to Albuquerque, NM. I've no idea how long it has been there.
To find out more about Silver City you can search it on the internet. A good place is I have just barely touched the surface of what there is to do and see in Silver City and Grant County. More posts to come on some of it.

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