About 23 miles north of
of Ancho, a former railroad and ranching community. The settlement was
established at the turn of the 20th century when families began to settle the
fertile valley, followed by a number of homesteaders who became the area’s
first sheep and cattle ranchers. Miners also roamed the area of gypsum hills
in search precious metals.
In 1902, a gypsum deposit
was discovered and the Gypsum Product Company plaster mill was
established. That same year, Ancho got a post office with Frank J. Bush as
the first postmaster. When a settler by the name of Bosque came to the
area from Iowa, he saw opportunity in the fire clay in the region and
established the Ancho Brick Plant in 1905. That same year, the railroad
pushed through town and the depot was built.
The Ancho Depot closed in 1959, Kathy Weiser,
February, 2008. This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
In 1906, after the
devastating earthquake and fire in San Francisco, Ancho was busy
shipping plaster and brick to the ravaged city.
In 1917, the brick
plant was sold to the
based Phelps Dodge Corporation, who built a new sixteen-kiln plant at
a cost of $150,000. However, this move proved to be unprofitable, as
the plant went bankrupt in 1921. Though this was a devastating blow to
the small community and several people moved out, the town survived,
supported primarily by the railroad and ranching industries.
depression years, Ancho’s population increased as a number of
destitute families moved in trying to make a living mining for gold in
the nearby Jicarilla Mountains. However, once the economy improved,
people moved out once again.
In 1930, Ancho’s
one room school house burned down and was replaced by the brick school
that continues to stand today. At its peak, the school had five
teachers and 140 students. The town also supported two stores.
However, Ancho’s life was on a downhill trend. In 1937, though the
brick plant had long been closed, the property was sold to Abilene
Salvage Company, who dismantled it.
When the new U.S.
Highway 54 was paved in 1954 between Carrizozo and Corona, it spelled
a death knell for Ancho, as the small community was bypassed by 2 ˝
miles. The following year, the school was closed.
The final blow for
Ancho was when the railroad discontinued the depot in 1959. The
building was sold and in 1963 became a museum called "My House of Old
Things.” That same year, the town’s combination store and gas station
closed. Five years later, the post office also closed and the town was
left with only a few people.