When silver was discovered above La Cienega de San Vicente (The Marsh of St. Vincent) in the 1870s, Silver City, New Mexico, was born.
It soon attracted the likes of Billy the Kid, Judge Roy Bean, lawman “Dangerous” Dan Tucker and even the Hearst family. The town’s current residents aren’t fighting foils on the frontier, but they are working hard to turn downtown’s “Big Ditch” into a riverwalk, a la San Antonio’s version.
Everyone Knows: Porter Kasten, whose family owns Porter Oil and Porter Transportation; and the Turners, who own a lot of land around Silver City.
Best Cowboy Bar: The Buffalo (biker bar now; 211 N. Bullard St.), but it’s an old-time cowboy bar. The locals call it “The Buff.”
Best Chuckwagon Show: Copper Creek Ranch (20 Flury Ln.), owned and operated by Floyd and Patsy Robertson.
Best Bookstores: High-Lonesome Books (26 High-Lonesome Rd.); and Desert Blossom Books (117 E. College Ave.).
What radio personality do most people listen to?: “The Ranch” at KWNM 105.5 FM with Kurt Staley—the morning guy. He keeps it local, which is so rare these days that he deserves a Peabody.
Average Temperature: In January, the average is about 40 degrees; in July, 90s.
What historic site do most of the schoolchildren visit?: Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and Fort Cobre in Pinos Altos.
What attraction should not be missed?: City of Rocks State Park (reminiscent of Stonehenge), 25 minutes from Silver City.
Best Route to Silver City: Follow U.S. 491 (the old Highway 666) over the mountains and through Mule Creek (don’t forget to take a gander at Mangas Springs, allegedly named for the Apache warrior), then slip into Silver City the back way.
What are the most popular local events?: The Silver City Blues Festival and the Tour of the Gila Staged Bicycle Race held every May.
What does an average home cost? The last time I looked, you could get a nice home in the center of town for $125,000.
Knows History the Best: Susan Berry, director at the Silver City Museum (312 W. Broadway); her area of expertise is downtown’s history.
Historic Restoration Plans: The Big Ditch Restoration Project, Phase II will be completed soon. Plus, several downtown buildings are being renovated, such as Isaac’s Bar & Grill (200 N. Bullard St.) and the Murray Hotel (200 W. Broadway). Curt Albertshart owns the Murray and is doing the remodel as a labor of love.
Special thanks to Carol Watson-Brand and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laurie Pankey for sharing their love of the town with us.