That time when... A journey to our beginnings
Editor's Note: This is the second in our series "That time when...", looking back at some of our favorite travels since 2003.
Thirteen years ago, on June 27, 2003, Kathy registered the domain name "LegendsOfAmerica.com" as a continuation of a hobby website she had created, which focused on the Moreno Valley of northeast New Mexico. Kathy's own history in this area dates back to her childhood, when she would spend summers with her Grandma Foster at the family cabin in Idlewild, a small home association between Eagle Nest and Angel Fire.
The gold rush brought many to the area, but even after the rush faded, some were convinced there was still gold to be found in the early 1900's. One of those being Fred Montague, who along with other investors, purchased property and dug three tunnels in 1920. One of those would become the Klondyke Mine.
Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke MineUnfortunately the Klondyke Mine has been torn down since this photo was taken. In the beginning, assay reports from the mine showed that the tunnel had large amounts of gold, silver and copper. An engineer from Denver advised the investors to build a mill. Before the mill was built, the owners first built several buildings on the property, including a mining office, a cook house, a general store and cabins for the miners.
Only after the mill was built did the investors find, in 1926, that the grade of ore found needed to be smelted, and the nearest facility was in Pueblo, Colorado. Trucking the ore to Pueblo was too expensive to justify continuing the endeavor.
The Klondyke Mine was never very productive and the mining company was constantly in search of additional working capital, though they continued to hold board meetings until the 1940's. Finally, the mine was abandoned as a business venture, but the Montague family still retains the ten acres surrounding the mine. The remaining buildings of the mine were torn down in January of 2011.
Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Klondyke Mine EquipmentThe Klondike Mine and Mill in Idlewild, near Eagle Nest, New Mexico was established in the 1920s. However, it was never very productive and all operations had ceased by 1940. The old mill continued to stand until 2011, when it was razed. Photo by Dave Alexander, 2004. Idlewild developed adjacent to the Klondyke Mine in the 1930's. Originally, the land was owned by Charles Gallagher, who married Mae Lowery, the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Moore Lowery, for whom Elizabethtown was named. Forced to sell some of his land due to a bad cattle deal, Gallagher sold off 160 acres to Thomas cook in 1929, who developed the Idlewild 'retreat.
Most of the properties in Idlewild were sold to visitors from Texas and many are passed from generation to generation, including Legends of America founder and editor, Kathy Weiser's family's cabin, one of the oldest in Idlewild. It was here that Kathy spent summers with her Grandparents, Ben & Irene Foster, and developed her love of history. Kathy says Irene was and still is the inspiration for Legends of America.
Eagle Nest, NM - Idlewild Foster Cabin - 2Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander. This small community means a lot to both of us, as Kathy and I (Dave) were married at the outdoor church here in June of 2006.
Read more about Idlewild & the Klondyke mine HERE.
Often on the list of places to see and explore, Kathy spent many a day at the ghost town of Elizabethtown.
Elizabethtown, NM - Main Street, 1943Main Street in Elizabethtown New Mexico, by John Collier, 1943. E-Town, as it was known to residents, is nothing but ruins and a museum now, but once was a thriving mining community of over 7,000 residents. Drawn by a gold find in 1866, miners rushed to the area. In June of 1867, Captain William Moore and his brother John opened a General Store nearby, and by the end of the month it was clear that the store would become the center of a town. The next year, Moore along with other businessmen, platted Elizabethtown, named after the Captain's daughter, Elizabeth Catherine Moore. She would grow up to become the town's first school teacher.
A fire in 1903 wiped out most of the original buildings. One of the only businesses to survive the blaze was the Froelick Store.
Elizabethtown, NM - Froelick Store & Mutz HotelTragedy struck Elizabethtown in 1903 when fire caught in the second story of one of the largest retail establishments, the Remsberg Store. In the dry mountain conditions the flames quickly engulfed the mostly wood buildings, flames spreading throughout the town. One of the only businesses to survive was Herman Froelick's Store. One of several hotels, the Mutz Hotel was built by Herman Mutz, a rancher and cattleman of the area. Today the ruins of the hotel are some of the more striking features of this ghost town.
Elizabethtown, NM - Mutz Hotel, 1943Mutz Hotel in Elizabethtown, New Mexico, by John Collier, 1943. In 1870, Elizabethtown had seven saloons, three dance halls, five stores, a school, two churches and several hotels. The Mutz Hotel was one of the first buildings to catch fire in 1903, but it was rebuilt of stone. The town never fully recovered from the fire, and since the 1943 photo above, the hotel has continued to fall into ruins.
Read more fascinating history of Elizabethtown HERE.
Just a few miles away is Eagle Nest, another historic community that continues today.
Eagle Nest, NM - Vintage Street Scene One of the earlier buildings in Eagle Nest, originally known as Therma, is the Laguna Vista Saloon, which started as the El Monte Hotel. Allegedly it was built in 1898 with stolen railroad ties from Elizabethtown.
Eagle Nest, NM - El Monte Hotel
The El Monte was one of the busiest saloons in the 1920's and 30's when the politicians stopped over on their way to the horse races in Raton, New Mexico to partake of the many roulette, gaming tables and slot machines offered in the saloons, inns, and businesses of Eagle Nest.
Eagle Nest, NM - Laguna Vista Eagle Nest is located in the Moreno Valley in the midst of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Nestled between the state's two highest peaks - Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet) and Wheeler Peek (13,161 feet), it sits at the junction of US Hwy 64 and State Hwy 38. High above sea level, at 8,300 feet, the village rests on the western slope of Baldy Mountain. The town sits by Eagle Nest lake, created by a dam in 1918, the largest privately constructed dam in the U.S. The story goes that Eagles built a nest on the side of the new dam, which is how the lake got its name.
Eagle Nest Lake - From Mount BaldyThe town of Eagle Nest and Eagle Nest Lake are located in the Moreno Valley in the midst of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Nestled between the states two highest peaks - Baldy Mountain (12,441 feet) and Wheeler Peek (13,161 feet), it sits at the junction of US Hwy 64 and State Hwy 38.
In 1927, Oklahoma oilman Walter Grant built the Eagle Nest Lodge, which featured 12 rooms, a lounge and restaurant in a luxurious building. The lodge was considered one of the finest for miles, and soon expanded to include five studio units. The Lodge also offered horseback riding, fishing and hunting expeditions to the many travelers who stopped to enjoy Eagle Nest Lake. It's been long abandoned, and the last word we had in 2008 was that several of the buildings still stand.
Today, the Village of Eagle Nest is lined with arts and crafts shops, lodging, restaurants, and saloons. Known as a laid-back mountain town, unbothered by the traffic and noise of city life, the village has seen a renaissance in recent years with the addition of sidewalks, old-fashioned streetlights, park benches and flowerboxes, making the stroll through the town a pleasure. The less than mile long Main street features numerous specialty shops carrying locally-made crafts and fine arts, sculpture, sterling silver jewelry, Indian jewelry, antiques, pottery, candies, fudge, clothing, souvenirs, and much more.
Kathy talks more about this area in our latest Newsletter as she reminisces about how our website began 13 years ago. If you are not a subscriber you can see the online version HERE.
As always, all our images here in our photo print shop are available not only for prints in many sizes, but also on merchandise and as downloads. Just go to a photo, click "buy" then browse our products. In the meantime, enjoy this slideshow of the Eagle Nest Area, and thank you for your support during the past 13 years.
Keywords: Eagle Nest, Elizabethtown, Idlewild, Klondyke Mine, Laguna Vista Saloon, Legends of America Anniversary, Moreno Valley, New Mexico
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