Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rush for Gold Can Miss Beauty

Years before the California and Colorado gold rushes, Golden, NM, (about 30 miles northeast of Albuquerque) became the the site of the first gold rush west of the Mississippi River.

In 1825, placer gold was discovered near Dolores, NM, and in the late 1820’s two small mining camps developed as a result of the mineral finds -- El Real de San Francisco and Placer del Tuerto. It was shortly after these mining camps were formed that the San Francisco Catholic Church was built around 1830. (It was restored by author Fray Angelico Chavez in 1960.)

The new town of Golden soon absorbed both of the mining camps. Officially formed in 1879, Golden was selected as the center of the new gold-mining district. However, by 1884, the expectations of Golden's miners were becoming deflated as the gold was already beginning to dwindle and people began to leave the area.

Mining continued on a small scale until about 1892, and ranching continued to be a mainstay of the economy. By 1928, the population was so reduced that Golden officially became a ghost town.

Over the years, vandalism took its toll on the town. Shown here are the ruins of the old stone schoolhouse.

Nearby was a structure related to the mining operation.

The town of Golden has been experiencing a growth in recent years, but its past draws more visitors than its present seems to attract.

The remains of another building, as with all the others above, were photographed from a distance because all seemed to be on private property that was fenced. We were left to wonder what the town would be like if there were a group devoted to restoring these structures and building reproductions of other buildings. (As an example, the restored San Francisco Catholic Church is one of the most photographed sites on the Turquoise Trail.)

The beauty of the area around Golden shown through from the smallest vegetation to the mountain landscapes.

Just walking around the fenced areas revealed these accompaniments to the scenes.

As we drove north of Golden on the Turquoise Trail, we made very slow progress. Finding vistas such as this led to our pulling off the highway, taking a photograph, and then just sitting and staring.

The term "gold rush" seemed to take on another meaning as we took in these views. In the rush for gold, the early residents rushed past the beauty of the San Pedro Mountains.

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