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Old 04-15-2009, 10:50 PM  
monte cristo monte cristo is offline
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Chloride, NM
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Post Chloride's Beginnings--The Beginning of a Ghost Town

Does Chlorides First Ghost Still Haunt the Place?
Harry Pye, the founder and first resident of Chloride, was already a ghost before the town got going.
Harry Pye, the founder and first resident of Chloride, was already a ghost before the town got going.

Chloride, NM: Chloride got its start in 1879 when the first cabin was built. Two years earlier, Harry Pye was passing through the area with a mule train heading for the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. He spent the night in the canyon to conceal his location from Victorio. While there he picked up some rocks that looked promising.

He had his rock samples assayed, and found that they were high in chloride of silver. Pye then had to make a decision: he could continue hauling freight for the Army, for which he knew he would be paid, or he could prospect for the source of the silver. Prospecting was of course a gamble. He elected to keep his silver find a secret until his contract had expired.

While in Georgetown, on the west side of the Black Range, he met two young men looking to get involved in the silver activity. Most men would not come with Pye because they knew this area was a favorite hunting ground of the Warm Springs Apaches. Pye told the young men, Forbes and Elliot, that he knew of a secret canyon with a ledge of silver, which apparently was convincing as they agreed to accompany him.

They arrived in present day Chloride Canyon in 1879 and built a log cabin near the west end of the canyon. Soon they located a cliff face, which seemed to contain rock similar to what Pye had found previously. They began a drift into the mountain and got in about 10 feet before the Indians found them. There was a battle and Pye was killed when his gun jammed. When it got dark, the other two men where able to sneak to a mining camp near Hillsboro. There they told the story about the battle, and about the silver. That started a rush, and soon the entire canyon was a tent city.

Judge Donahue, from Socorro, withdrew 120 acres of public domain for the new town site. Chloride was surveyed by Henry Schmidt. He used the Pye Cabin as a basis for laying out the town, since there had not yet been a formal survey of the Territory. The town was surveyed into "lots, blocks, and parcels, all divided by streets". The lots were distributed among the residents by lottery. City officials offered a free lot to any single woman who would agree to make Chloride her home. They also offered a free lot to the father of the first baby born in Chloride, provided he could prove he was the father!

The year 1880 saw many of the tents replaced by sturdy structures. Most of the building done at this time used local materials, which consisted of adobe, rock and logs. Many of the buildings built in 1880 are still in use, a testament to the skill of the builders.

Chloride is just 40 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences via Hwy 52. The Pioneer Store Museum and Monte Cristo Gift Shop & Gallery are open daily between 10am and 4pm. For more information contact montecristogallery@windstream.net

 

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