Hachita - Old and New
Found in the Little Hatchet Mountains of New Mexico, at the entrance to
the bootheel of southwestern New Mexico, the original town of Hachita
was settled around 1875 as a mining camp. The mountains supplied the
camp with more than just silver and copper, it would also supply its
name, which is Spanish for "little hatchet".
Becoming part of the Eureka mining district, in addition to silver and
copper they also mined turquoise and lead here. Later, gold was also
found in the district.
Early on, miners at Hachita found a number of pre-historic workings in and around
the camp, including fragments of ancient pottery, crude stone hammers
and other implements in old dumps and pits. Elated at their discovery,
named the mining district "Eureka". The ancient workings found were made
in previous mining of turquoise by ancient Native Americans.
Remains of an ore crusher at the American Mine in Old Hachita, New
Mexico. Photo by Lloyd Summer, courtesy
of the Southline.
During these early years life at the settlement was harsh. Not only were
residents dealing with the heat of the desert, but also the
constant threat of attacks by
Apache. However, it didn't prevent them
from creating several productive operations, including the Hornet, the
King, and American mines.
post office was established in 1882 and the town officially registered
its name as Hachita. By 1884 Hachita had 300 residents, boasted steam
smelting works, several mining company operations, a couple of general
stores and three saloons. However its success would be short lived as
the ore played out, and by 1890 the population dropped to around 25. The
post office held on a few more years before being shuttered in 1898.
In 1902, when tracks were laid for the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad
nine miles east of Hachita, another competing settlement sprang up,
drawing away from the original town and dividing residents between "Old
Hachita" and the new Hachita. A post office was established that same
year and quickly the new community grew with the addition of saloons,
stores and a hotel. The El Paso and Southwestern Rail line was one of
two that met in Hachita, the other being the Lordsburg & Hachita
Railroad. Old Hachita would continue to have mining operations until the
1920's, but became a complete ghost town after silver prices dropped.
During the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900's, Mexico President
Francisco Madero put pressure on Mormon communities in Northern Mexico,
and in August of 1912, about 800 residents of Colonia Diaz, some 80
miles south, fled the country and wound up in Hachita. Although most of
the refugees relocated with the help of the U.S. Government, and handful
stayed becoming permanent residents.
The new Hachita served as a base for forces during the "Punitive
Expedition", organized in retaliation of Pancho Villa's raid on
Columbus, New Mexico in 1916. General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing led
two columns that included infantry, cavalry, field artillery and signal
detachments from both Columbus and Hachita, in their hunt in northern
Mexico for Pancho Villa and his men. The U.S. established Camp Shannon
at Hashita that housed over 400 troops. The town benefited from the
additional revenue from military until the camp was closed in 1922.
In 1917 Hachita gained an outlaw when William E. Walters, also known as
Bill Anderson, Billy Brown and Bronco Bill, moved here after getting an
early release from prison. Walters, a cowboy and later bandit, at
one time riding with the Black Jack Ketchum Gang, had been convicted of
train robbery and sentenced to life, but for some reason was let out
early. After moving to Hachita, Walters worked as a wrangler for
the Diamond A Cattle Company. He died after falling from a
windmill tower he was working on.
At its peak in 1920, Hachita had over 750 residents. In 1934, the Lordsburg and Hachita Railroad stopped
service, dealing a blow to the community. Although there was a
slight resurgence during World War II as precious metal prices rose,
improvements to highways after the war drastically reduced rail freight
and passenger service. The El Paso and Southwestern Railroad continued,
though smaller in operation, until the last train passed
through town in 1961. By 1970 Hachita only had around 30 residents.
Hachita is still home to less than 50 residents. At the original
settlement of 'Old Hachita' you can still find an old head frame,
crumbling adobe buildings and more. Though the new Hachita shows some
life, it too has begun to
crumble in the New Mexico desert.
Primarily a ranching community,
Hachita is located on New Mexico Highway 9, about 44 miles west of
Columbus. Old Hachita ruins can be found 9 miles further west, south on
an unpaved, unnamed road off highway 9. The website
of the Southline has a
Google Map for reference.
Dave Alexander, Legends of America. May 2016.
abandoned business in Hachita, New Mexico. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander,
2008. Unfortunately we missed "Old Hachita" on this trip. See more photos of Hachita here.
of the Southline
Mining Science - Vol. LVIII - July 1908 to January 1909
Historical Marker at Hachita
New Mexico Ghost
New Mexico (main
Mexico Photo Gallery (includes more images of Hachita)
Legends' General Store
Towns (America's Lost World) 2 Disc DVD
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