Date of visit:
January 10, 2002
For location of this site in NM, click on the map:
We rate this site a:
Off the Interstate
Old railroad town
Peace and solitude
|Steins Railroad Ghost town was once a thriving railroad station town named after Captain Enoch Stein, U.S. Army officer (sometimes spelled Steen) who was the first Anglo witness to sign a treaty with the Mimbres Apaches including Delgadito and Victorio. At the town's peak, between 1905 to 1945 Steins supported 1300 residents.
In 1857 the Birch stage line rumbled through Steins, and when James Birch was drowned in a shipwreck off the New England coast, his stagecoach company line was replaced in 1858 by the Butterfield Overland Stage Company.
Waterman L. Owsby, a reporter for the New York Herald was the first "through" passenger, thus tales of the Wild West were begun. In April of 1861, five men traveling west by stagecoach to Tucson were attacked by Cochise and his band while approaching Stein's Peak. Two white men were killed in the first fire. The others, including John J. Giddings of San Antonio, traffic manager of the Butterfield Texas division, and one other passenger survived long enough to face a terrible fate, hung upside down and burned alive. The bodies were found and buried by passing freighters. Giddings daughter visited the grave in 1925, erecting a headstone in her father's memory.
Congress ordered the Butterfield road closed in 1861 due to the onset of Civil War.
|Later, during the 1880s Apaches once again figured into Steins history when the Army set up a heliograph station on Steins Peak signaling information regarding the movements of Geronimo. With the surrender of Geronimo in 1886 citizens of the Territory breathed a sigh of relief, but three years later heliograph stations began blinking messages once again to the Army hard on the trail of Apache Kid. Later, gangs of horse thieves and express robbers including Black Jack Ketchum terrorized the little village.
In early 1880s Southern Pacific built track through Steins Pass and the town was established as work station for the railroad. Dwellings were made of rough-cut lumber, adobe, and salvaged railroad ties. Water hauled from Doubtful Canyon sold for a dollar a barrel. Numerous businesses included three saloons, two bordellos, a boarding house, and a general store stood at the center of the community. After World War II Southern Pacific switched from steam to diesel, the work station was closed down and the town began to die.
Today, Steins is living history, preserved for serious researchers or tourists simply interested in a walk back through time.
|Text source extracted from:
Steins - Railroad Ghost Town, Larry & Linda Link, 2002, Site brochure