by Mike Lavelle
As summer arrives, there are many places to visit in the southwest, for either a day’s drive or an overnight stay. I recently went on a 5-day trip with some friends visiting Las Cruces, White Sands National Monument, Ruidoso, Hatch, and Silver City, all in New Mexico. In the next few issues, I will cover visiting the New Mexico towns of Las Cruces, Ruidoso, and Silver City.
In this article, however, I want to highlight one location that is all too often overlooked, historically, although most of us have driven right past it (as I have done so many times). This would be the small town of Lordsburg, NM. Roughly 140 or so miles from Vail, it is a good stopping point for gas and a rest. From Vail, it has a great location for further points northeast, northwest, east and south.
The town of Lordsburg dates to the 1880’s when the Southern Pacific Railroad passed through the town, to complete a 2nd transcontinental rail line. Like many western towns, early growth came from railroad workers, ranchers, merchants and such. Lordsburg has long served as a gas and food stop between Arizona and Texas. Once a hub with State Highways 70 and 80, when Interstate 10 was built, the traffic that once stopped, drove on past. Accordingly, Lordsburg began to experience economic decline. However, Lordsburg is still a convenient travel stop for those traveling to such cities as Las Cruces and El Paso and is still the main way to get to Silver City, from the west of I-10 (further down I-10, Deming is another way).
A little know fact is that Lordsburg once was the location of a Japanese American internment camp, that also held German and Italian prisons of war (POW). There is a county museum that has a POW and internment camp exhibit. As with many small western towns, Lordsburg was also the location for the filming of some westerns, with Stagecoach, starring John Wayne, being the most well know.
Also, the Gila Lower Box Canyon Wilderness, a natural desert oasis, is just 20 miles north of Lordsburg. Managed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management, the area is home to 200 species of birds, with a number of rare birds. Additionally, there is year-round fishing, canoeing, and rafting during the spring.
For more information on Lordsburg, here are some links: