Thursday, October 28, 2010

Madrid - a Glimpse of New Mexico Past and Present

When guests of The Hacienda Nicholas Bed & Breakfast Inn are looking for an interesting day-trip, we often suggest a jaunt to the town of Madrid.  The town, situated on the Turquoise Trail just south of Santa Fe, boasts a rich and colorful history.  Coal mining began in the area as early as 1835, and Madrid became a 'company town' for the miners and their families, with a population of 2500.

The mines closed up in the 1950's and Madrid became a ghost town, its old frame buildings, schools and shops falling into disrepair. In the 1960's it became a bit of a hippie haven, and then a mecca for artists fleeing the exorbitantly high prices of Santa Fe.

Today the town is home to only about 300 residents, but has a bustling and funky main street where visitors can shop in over 40 shops for locally-made crafts, jewelry, clothing, pottery, hand-blown glass and art.

A favorite haunt (no pun intended, but the place is said to be haunted!)  is the Mine Shaft Tavern, serving food (delicious green chile burgers), drink and live music to a varied clientele.  It is a favorite pit stop of Harley riders on the weekends, as well as artists, musicians and visitors from all around the world.  This restaurant probably captures the essence of Madrid better than anywhere else.

Also of interest are the Old Coal Mine Museum and the delightful Tinkertown Museum (24 miles further south), where you can see a miniature Old West Town and an animated Three Ring Circus.   

(photos courtesy of Greg Uzmann,  Hacienda Nicholas Innkeeper)

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