The Turquoise Trail will lead you to the ghost town.....
Having been to Santa Fe a zillion times, I could not believe I had never explored Madrid. (pronounced with the accent on the first syllable: MAD-rid, not Ma-DRID) This artist community of some 400 people is located on State Highway 14 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque is in the mineral rich Ortiz Mountains and is in the oldest coal mining region in New Mexico. There is evidence of primitive mining in the Madrid area as early as the mid-1850's. I adored this unique and picturesque little town. It is a haven for day trippers and travelers along the historic Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway. So many cute local shops, cafes, and bed & breakfast inns. (So many thanks to my friend Joy Whitman for always showing me magical places in New Mexico)
Recently, certain events have brought Madrid New Mexico to the world spotlight. Touchstone Films produced the 2007 film Wild Hogs that showcased Madrid, and had the restless shirt and tie bikers making their final stand at the Madrid Chili Festival.
Inside the Mineshaft Tavern, a popular stop for motorcycle riders is the historic pine and oak bar from the original saloon and is still known as the "longest bar in the state.”
Madrid is best known for its annual Christmas lighting display, where virtually every building in the small town is decorated with an elaborate display of lights and nativity scenes. This tradition of beautiful lights began in the 1920s when the electric plant, owned by the town’s coal company, was providing free electricity to the many residents of the town. The miners were "required" to buy a tree for the lights, which is said to have cost about a weeks worth of pay, but since its inception, people from all over the area, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, make the trip to Madrid to see this fascinating Christmas display.
Today, most of Madrid's remains have been restored or preserved, including the Miner’s Amusement Hall, the old Catholic Church, the Coal Mining Museum, most of the store fronts, and many of the wooden company houses. However, on the outskirts of town, you will still some of these tumbling down buildings in their original state.
For those that are looking for a different kind of experience, Madrid and the entire surrounding area is said to be haunted. Numerous ghost sightings have been reported in homes, in the old church, in the cemetery, and the Mine Shaft Tavern. Often reported wandering the arroyos surrounding the town, is the spirit of La Llorona. Though many believe that this ghostly Weeping Woman is nothing but a legend, their are many New Mexicans that believe this tall, thin, natural beauty haunts many places in the Southwest.
One often reported sighting is that of a silent cowboy who has often been seen escorting a Spanish woman, dressed in her best finery, down Main Street. Others have allegedly seen and heard all types of ghostly forms in the cemetery.
But the most haunted of all places in Madrid is said to be the Mine Shaft Tavern. Though it burned down on Christmas Day, 1944, Madrid's town father, Oscar Huber, rebuilt the tavern for the many coal miners of the area. It reopened in 1947 and has been open ever since. Some remodeling of the old saloon was completed in 1982; however, no changes were made to its historic bar -- the longest bar in New Mexico. Today, this historic saloon continues to serve the many visitors along the Turquoise Trail.
Staff as well as guests have often seen glasses fall from their perches and crashing to the floor in bits and pieces. Doors are often seen opening with unseen hands and swinging back and forth. From the six inch thick adobe walls, mysterious sounds are often heard and after closing hours, numerous objects and furnishings are moved about. However, the most unsettling reports are the stories told by staff of looking in the mirror and instead of seeing their own reflections, they see a ghost.
(Info taken from various Madrid archives)
I highly recommend making the trip here loves, especially if you already in Santa Fe. Make an afternoon of it and explore all that Madrid has to offer. It's seriously so charming. The locals are the friendliest. And if you are in the market for a turquoise squash blossom necklace that we all swoon over, this would be the place to invest! The pricing was the best I have found. So much less expensive then Santa Fe. I am living vicariously through a friend right now who is going to Santa Fe in two weeks for the holiday. I have always wanted to experience Santa Fe over Christmas.
Tag me in your pictures ! I want to see the places you explore.
And thanks so much to Simon & Ruby's fall Canyon Road Collection for creating my favorite accessories right now! They make me remember Santa Fe every time I wear them. Check them out and tell Lindsay I sent ya!