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Date of visit:
October 13, 2000

For location of this site in NM, click on the map:
 Location of Lake Valley Ghost Town ...
 

We rate this site a:

Site Highlights:
 Few visitors
 No fee
 On scenic byway
 Wonderful vistas
 Restored schoolhouse
 Self-guided tours
 Historic district
 Mine still active
 Interesting history

 Kachina

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Lake Valley - Visions from the Past
On the Byway
On the Byway

Lake Valley
Welcome to Lake Valley

Huddled near the western slopes of Monument Peak are the decaying, peaceful remnants of the town of Lake Valley. The school, used for dances years after the pupils had left, is south of the town's main buildings - including a stone service station, a church, a few residences and foundations, and a small railroad station.
It is difficult to imagine that this serene spot was, according to a western surveyor who came through, ": . . the toughest town I've ever seen. I'm satisfied a man died with his boots on every night." Population estimates vary from one thousand to four thousand for a town that was born in the 1880s and died, for all practical purposes, with the silver panic of 1893, although mining continued on a limited scale into the 1940s.
For The Record Books
Visiting with the ghosts
Visiting with the ghosts

Monument Peak & Lizard Rock
Monument Peak & Lizard Rock

Hillboro to Lake Valley

Hillsboro to Lake Valley

Lake Valley circa 1880

Lake Valley circa 1880

Lake Valley Mining

Lake Valley Mining

Typical mine details

Typical mine details
Lake Valley was a place for the record books.

In 1878 prospectors George Lufkin and Chris Watson found the original samples that led to the excitement seventeen miles south of the town that had recently been named Hillsboro.

Eventually a syndicate headed by George Daly bought all claims in the area for a reported $225,000.

In 1881, blacksmith John Leavitt leased a claim that Lufkin and Watson had begun from the Sierra Grande Mining Company.

After two days and ten feet of digging, Leavitt came upon the most wonderful cavern ever discovered in the history of mining: it was a vault the size of a living room that was virtually solid silver!

Miners could actually saw chunks of the precious metal into blocks.

One piece was so large that it had to be broken up before it could be hauled out. A lighted candle could be held to the ceiling of the vault, which grateful miners named the Bridal Chamber, and silver would melt right off.

One piece of silver valued at $7,000 (when silver sold for a mere $1.11 per ounce) was featured at the Denver Exposition of 1882.

And the largest chunk ever taken from the Bridal Chamber was valued at an astonishing $80,000; that's over forty-five hundred pounds of silver at $ 1.11 per ounce.

The Bridal Chamber was the richest concentration of silver ever found: 2.5 million ounces were removed - and removed so easily that a railroad spur was backed into the chamber and solid silver loaded directly onto ore cars.

Total production of all mines in Lake Valley between 1881 and 1893 was 5.78 million ounces.

The leader of the syndicate that owned the Bridal Chamber, George Daly, never lived to see the phenomenal fortunes that were there: on the very day Leavitt broke into the fabulous Bridal Chamber, Daly was murdered by Apaches.

And George Lufkin, who originally found the silver in Lake Valley, is buried in the town's cemetery in a pauper's grave.

Site Gallery - Lake Valley Yesterday
 
Lake Valley Yesterday Lake Valley Yesterday Lake Valley Yesterday
Lake Valley Yesterday Lake Valley Yesterday Lake Valley Yesterday
Lake Valley Yesterday Lake Valley Yesterday Lake Valley Yesterday
Lake Valley Yesterday Lake Valley Yesterday Lake Valley Yesterday
Lake Valley Yesterday Lake Valley Yesterday Can you
still hear
the far-off
steam whistle?
 
 
Site Gallery - Lake Valley Today
 
First School House First School House A residence
Judges House Monument Peak and Lizard Rock Coal Sorter
Old Railbed St. Columba Church By The Church
Water Tower Lake Valley Duplex Doctors House
Manganese Mine Manganese Mine Monument Peak and Lizard Rock
 
 
Site Gallery - The School
 
The Lake Valley School
The School House The School House The School House
The School House The School House The School House
The School House The School House The School House
The School House The School House Can you
still hear
children
laughing?
 
 
Site Gallery - The Cemetery
 
The Cemetery The Cemetery The Cemetery
The Cemetery The Cemetery The Cemetery
 
 
Text source partially exrtracted from:
Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of New Mexico, James E. Sherman, 1975
New Mexico's Best Ghost Towns, Philip Varney, 1999
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