Then & Now: Chloride, New Mexico

Position mouse cursor over image to see circa 1890 historic photo. Move mouse cursor off image to see my 1982 photo.


Chloride is a classic western ghost town, its wooden structures lining the long main street -- including a pair of vintage falsefront buildings. The town's name comes from the silver chloride ore that a prospector named Harry Pye discovered in the area in 1879. Within a few months Pye was killed by Apaches, but the town of Chloride grew to be the center of a prosperous mining district. In the 1880's as many as 500 people lived in Chloride (other sources say "a couple thousand" and "nearly 3,000"). After the silver crash of the 1890's most of the people moved on, but the town was never totally abandoned. The fact that there have always been a few residents has no doubt helped the town from falling victim to vandalism.

While the above photos do not show the town from exactly the same angle, a few buildings can be identified as the same in both. Hints: the pair of buildings at bottom center in the 1982 photo are in the lower left corner of the c1890 photo; the oak tree in the middle of the main street (which legend says was a "hanging tree") is in the center of both photos.

Shown in the photos below is the Wicklow house, one of the town's most charming ruins. It is located near the east end of town, on the north side of the main street. At the time of my 1982 visit, the house was almost completely overgrown with alianthus trees. But several architectural details are identical in this pair of photos taken some 90 years apart: the wood trim on the eaves, the diamond-shaped window, and even a few boards in the picket fence out front!

Position mouse cursor over image to see circa 1890 historic photo of the Wicklow house. Move mouse cursor off image to see my 1982 photo of the Wicklow house.


Chloride is about 30 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences, and is reached via highway 52, then dirt Forest Road 226 2.3 miles southwest from Winston. At the time of my visit (1982), the townsite was open to the public at no charge. Several of the buildings are still occupied; please respect the privacy of the residents.

Revised: February 1, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Joe Orman
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