Golden - Has Seen Better Days
was inhabited by
Americans and Spaniards long before American
settlers came to the area. However, it began to boom when gold was
discovered in 1825.
Years before the
gold rushes, the site of Golden became the
first gold rush west of the
Placer gold was first discovered on Tuerto Creek on the southwest side of
the Ortiz Mountains 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.
The area remained quiet for decades until several large
companies began to put money into the mines, bringing in numerous workers,
and followed by many individual prospectors. It was shortly after these
mining camps were formed that the San Francisco Catholic Church was built
Just south of Tuerto,
a new town called Golden was being
formed, which soon absorbed both El Real de San Francisco
and Placer del Tuerto. Officially formed in 1879, Golden was selected as the center of the
new gold-mining district and soon grew to support several
businesses, a school, and even a stock exchange. In 1880, the post
office was opened.
The 1830's San Francisco Church in Golden is one of the most photographed sites along the
Turquoise Trail. Kathy Weiser, June, 2006.
image available for photographic prints
expectations of Golden's miners were soon
deflated, as by 1884 the gold was already beginning to dwindle and
people began to leave the area. But, mining continued on a small
scale until about 1892, and ranching continued to be a mainstay of the
economy. In 1918 the Golden General
Merchandise Store was opened by Ernest Ricon. In the 1960's a man named
Henderson married Ricon's daughter and they took over the store. It is
the only business in town that continues to operate today (or at least
upon our last visit in 2006) and is referred to by the locals as
the Henderson General Store.
By 1928, the
population was so reduced that the post office closed and Golden officially became a ghost town. For years afterwards, its many abandoned buildings remained, tumbling
down between its few remaining occupied structures. During this time,
vandalism also took its toll on the town and its remaining structures,
but a few crumbling ruins still provide excellent photo opportunities. Golden's most
photographed building is the San Francisco Catholic Church, which was
restored by historian and author, Fray Angelico Chavez, in 1960
while he was the padre of the St. Joseph Church in Los
Cerrillos. Across the highway, west of the church are the
ruins of another large structure, as well as mining remnants.
Golden has seen a small rebirth as new
residents have moved into the area, building new homes and restoring
others, but still it remains a sleepy village with vivid reminders of
its more robust past.
Nearby Golden, are the traceable ruins of a
pueblo called Paa-Ko that dates back to about 1300 A.D. Abandoned around 1670, there is little to be seen today. The
site was commissioned as a New Mexico
State Monument in 1938 but was decommissioned in 1959. Located
just north of the Crest turnoff, little remains can be seen at the
site that is now utilized for archeology digs by universities and
Golden is located along the
Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway, Golden is about ten miles north of the
Sandia Park Junction on NM 14.
of America, updated March, 2017.
General Merchandise store dates back to 1918 and is still open
today. Kathy Weiser, June, 2006. This
image available for photographic prints
Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway
Mexico - A Ghost Town Reborn
Cerrillos, New Mexico - Two Thousand Years of History
Turquoise Trail Slide Show:
All images available for photo prints &
From Legends' General Store
Towns (America's Lost World) 2 Disc DVD
Unearth America's Lost World! This 5-Part series ventures into the roots
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