Though the “original” Sierra Grande Company was out of business, other mines continued to be worked in the area and in 1884, the Santa Fe Railroad built a spur line to Lake Valley. The Sierra Grande Company was taken over my new management and their mines were also reopened. However, the rich heydays for Lake Valley were over. Although mining operations continued until 1893 when the gold standard was implemented, silver prices plummeted, and the mines closed again. The region had produced more than five million dollars in silver over the years, but none of the mines were wildly profitable due to the high equipment and labor expenses required. The mining companies then leased the claims to individuals who continued to work them on a small scale over the next several years. To make matters worse, most of Lake Valley’s Main Street burned down in 1895 and was never rebuilt.
By 1900, the population of Lake Valley had declined to less than 200 people, but remained as a supply center for local ranchers and the few remaining miners. That same year, a man named Lucius Fisher won the vast majority of the mining property in a poker game in Denver, Colorado. Fisher tried to start large scale mining operations again, but gave up the effort within a few years. The depression caused a further decline of the town and when the railroad spur was closed in the 1930s, it was reduced once again. During World War II, some mines were reopened to produce manganese, but this was also short-lived and by the 1950s there were only about 20 people left in the dying settlement. The post office closed its doors forever in 1955. The last resident of the town moved out in 1994, leaving Lake Valley a true ghost town.
Today, most of the property is owned by the Bureau of Land Management and is situated along the Lake Valley Scenic Byway. Preservation has been made to the old site, which continues to display a number of buildings. The site is maintained by local caretakers and is open Thursdays through Mondays. Self-guided tours are available starting at the old schoolhouse. A few properties, located beyond a fence, are private and cannot be visited. There is also the nearby Lake Valley Cemetery which can also be toured.
Lake Valley is located situated on New Mexico State Highway 27, about 15 miles south of Hillsboro, New Mexico.
Bureau of Land Management
Las Cruces District Office
1800 Marquess Street
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88005
New Mexico (main page)