Elephant Butte Inn and Spa

Elephant Butte Inn Blog

Lake Valley, Sierra County, Finale

Posted February 10, 2013

Today, several original buildings remain in Lake Valley.  The Bureau of Land Management oversees the townsite and has set up a 45 minute walking tour.  The tour begins at the 1904 Schoolhouse (pictured below) and includes the restored St. Columbus Episcopal Chapel, some homes and railroad buildings and some mine equipment.

In addition to silver, manganese was mined for both World Wars.  The remains of this mine can be seen from the townsite in a nearby hillside.

Lake Valley, Sierra County, Part 2

Posted February 9, 2013

The last commercial stage and rail stop in the area, Lake Valley grew to 4,000 residents with 12 saloons, 3 churches, 2 newspapers, a school, stores, hotels, stamp mills and smelters.  The town was devastated by the 1893 silver panic and the 1895 fire which destroyed main street.  The post office closed in 1954 and the last resident left in 1994.  Final, part 3, tomorrow.

This photo is of The Pioneer Store in 1890.

Lake Valley, Sierra County, Part 1

Posted February 8, 2013

Lake Valley was founded in August 1878 with the discovery of silver in the area by George Lufkin who later sold out to George Daly.  Originally called Daly, the town was later named for the nearby ancient lake beds.  The settlement moved twice, and was finally established at its present site in 1882 when the Bridal Chamber Mine (in Lufkin's original claim) was discovered by blacksmith John Leavitt.  The walls of this subterranean mine were lined with silver so pure it was shipped unsmelted to the mint.  The strike produced 2.5 million ounces of pure horn silver.  One chunk, featured at the 1882 Denver Exposition, was valued at $7,000.  (Silver sold for $1.11/ounce then).  The mine manager was killed by Apaches a few days after the discovery.

Route to Lake Valley:  I-25 south 15 miles to exit 63.  West on NM Hwy 152 for 26 miles to Hillsboro.  South 17 miles on NM Hwy 27 to Lake Valley.

Kingston, Sierra County, NM...Pt. 2

Posted January 27, 2013

Today only a few original buildings remain--Percha Bank, the assay office and the stone Victorio Hotel (now private residences). The rock walls of the Black Range Lodge B&B were built in the 1930s of stones gathered from tumbled-down ruins of Pretty Sam's Casino and Monarch Saloon. This photo is of the Percha Bank Museum lobby which was built in 1884 on the main street of K...ingston. In 1890 it was the biggest bank in New Mexico. After the 1893 silver panic the bank moved to Hillsboro. The building served as Kingston's post office until it closed in 1957. Today, this stately stone building is the only fully-intact original structure in town, with its ornate lobby, teller windows and the original historic bank vault. The Percha Bank is free and open to the public. It is currently a museum and gallery.

Kingston, Sierra County, NM...Pt. 1

Posted January 25, 2013

Kingston was founded along Percha Creek beneath the Black Range mountains in 1882, when prospector Jack Sheddon made a rich silver strike.  Word spread, and almost overnight Kingston became a mining boom town. Despite pioneer hardships, smallpox and Apache raids, it continued to grow.  The census of 1890 officially counted more than 7000 residents, making it the largest city in New Mexico Territory.

One of the west's wildest mining camps, Kingston boasted 22 saloons, 14 stores, 3 newspapers, numerous hotels and boarding houses, and an  Opera House.  A stage line connected Kingston to Hillsboro, Lake Valley, and the railroad at Nutt.  Lillian Russell, Mark Twain, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid all visited this colorful community, known as the "gem of the Black Range."  But when the Silver Panic of 1893 caused silver prices to plummet, the town rapidly folded.

Football Specials in the Lounge

Posted January 11, 2013

We are doing an NFL Playoffs special for the weekends of January 12 and 13/ Saturday and Sunday; and January 20/ Sunday only.



Beers—order a small beer, and upgrade to a giant size at no extra cost!

Appetizers:Chicken Wings (12 pcs)—50% off (normally $6.95)Super Nachos—50% off (normally $8.95)

Please note that we are only doing/serving these NFL Playoffs specials during the length of the games! (So if games go into overtime, the specials will still count.)

Hillsboro, New Mexico -Final Chapter

Posted January 5, 2013

Hillsboro had its ups and downs.  Fires, floods, influenza epidemics and economic downturns took their toll.  An unsuccessful attempt in 1920 to move the county seat to Hot springs (T or C) was followed in 1938 by the permanent loss of the designation to Hot Springs.  Through all this, Hillsboro has continued to survive and now has become a small active community of artists, ranchers and retirees.  Main Street now has a variety of colorful shops, art galleries and restaurants.   Photo: the present day post office is in the original building which was built before 1893.

Hillsboro, New Mexico...Part 2

Posted January 4, 2013

From December 1877 to 1880, the town was home to 300 residents. By 1880, there were 4 saloons, 4 grocery stores and a post office. Because Hillsboro was in the heart of Apache territory, a garrison was established on the North Percha to protect the miners from outlaws and the Apache. The town continued to grow and became the county seat in 1884. Gold and silver mines continued to produce even through the 1893 silver panic and depressions. Hillsboro's economy diversified as ranchers settled in the surrounding area. The town's Hispanic district developed east of Percha Creek, a small gardening area called Happy Flats. The commercial district, primarily Anglo, developed west of Percha Creek with hotels, boarding houses, stores and a post office.

A brick courthouse was built in 1892 on the hill just south of town near the 1892 Union Church, an Episcopal church still in use today. The ruins of these buildings can be seen on Elenora Street. Several more buildings from this era can be seen on Main Street.

The photo below: this is inside the Union Church. These chairs are still used every Sunday for two services.

Hillsboro, New Mexico

Posted December 29, 2012


Hillsboro has a rich history dating back to April 1877 with the discovery of gold in nearby mountains along Percha Creek. Two prospectors, Dan Dugan and Dave Stizel staked out the Opportunity and the Ready Pay mines. Anothe...r prospector, Joe Yankie, gave the town its name in December 1877. Each miner put his idea for a name of the town into a hat. Joe's suggestion was drawn: Hillsborough, after his home town in Ohio. Later, the name was shortened to Hillsboro. Here is a photo of Joe's headstone:

Dairy Farms in Sierra County

Posted December 26, 2012

Dairy farms are a thriving segment of the agricultural economy of Sierra County.  Much of the output of the county's 3,000 acres of alfalfa and 1,200 acres of corn production goes to supporting these farms.  Alfalfa is harvested several times each year and made into large bales of alfalfa hay.  Corn is harvested and chopped into silage.  This dried feed for the dairy cows can be stored for many months.

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