That time when... Our Visit to Shakespeare

August 08, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

[This is the third in our series "That time when..." a look back at our favorite travels through history since 2003.]

In March of 2008 we took a trip to southern New Mexico to visit some history. Shakespeare alone was worth the trip. 

Shakespeare, NM - Town ViewShakespeare, NM - Town ViewOriginally called Ralston, the town was established somewhere around 1870. Today tourists can relive some of the old west in this privately owned ghost town of Shakespeare. This mining settlement got its start as Ralston around 1870, with glowing accounts given of the richness of the silver mines. 

Shakespeare, NM - Chuck Wagon - 2Shakespeare, NM - Chuck WagonA chuck wagon on display in Shakespeare brings back its Old West days.

During the early years, Ralston boomed big, with some reports of up to 3,000 here looking to strike it rich. However, the towns namesake, William Ralston, would lose credibility with his involvement in the Great Diamond Hoax of 1871, and by 1873 there were only a few people left. By the late 1870's Ralston was a ghost town for the first time. 

Shakespeare, NM - WindowShakespeare, NM - WindowView of the landscape from within a building at Shakespeare. Then in 1879, Colonel Boyle of St. Louis staked a number of claims under the name of the Shakespeare Mining Company and renamed the settlement. Mining was once again in full force, but the town never settled so much as to gain a school, church or newspaper. 

Shakespeare, NM - Perry E Borchers HomeShakespeare, NM - Perry E Borchers Home As for the law, it would primarily be handled by the citizens, with some offenders hanged by the timbers of the Grant House Dining Room. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant Hotel Dining RoomShakespeare, NM - Grant Hotel Dining RoomInside the Grant House Dining room, hanging ropes dangle from the ceiling testifying to a more violent past. February, 2008, Kathy Weiser-Alexander. When the railroad bypassed Shakespeare in the 1880's, favoring Lordsburg instead, the town once again began to decline. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant House InteriorShakespeare, NM - Grant House Interior Although there was a brief resurgence in mining in the early 1900's, it was not enough to save Shakespeare, and it became a ghost town for the second time. 

Shakespeare, NM - Grant House and SaloonShakespeare, NM - Grant House and SaloonThe Grant House on the right and saloon on the left. The back portion of the Grant House once held the stage station. The front dining room sometimes served as the hanging room. February, 2008, Kathy Weiser-Alexander. Taken over as part of a working ranch by the Hill family in 1935, Janaloo Hill did a lot of work to keep the history alive in the 1970's, with the town being listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. In 1984 she married Manny Hough, who helped her maintain the site. She passed away in 2005, but to this day Manny continues her work in Shakespeare.  

Today the town can be toured on the weekends, but be sure to check their website for exact information HERE

Read more about the interesting history, some of which conflicts with the legends told about Shakespeare, in our full article HERE

In the meantime, enjoy the views of Ralston/Shakespeare from our 2008 visit


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