"The Ghost town of Mogollon, New Mexico" Mogollon by fkwynkoop
Mogollon Travel Guide: 1 reviews and 7 photos
On my last trip to New Mexico I promised to visit the mining ghost town of Mogollon, New Mexico. During a rough patch Mogollon became my fantasy run away place. I would visit it via Google Earth on my computer, ranging up and down the surrounding mountains on the western flanks of the Gila Wilderness.
I imagined running away from it all in the tradition of the french impressionistic painter Paul Guagan who fled from Paris to the polynesian islands. I had visions of painting hundreds of impressionistic desert landscape using wild and wonderful colors.
Excitement mounted in my heart as I traveled up up Hwy 159 finally visiting Mogollon. No more virtual reality, Mogollon, unadorned and real, waited at the end of this road. The last 15 miles into town are pretty much a one lane road snaking through the mountains, the kind of road one would imagine you would take to get away from it all.
State Hwy 159 was hacked out of mountainsides by convict labor in 1897. It is narrow, twisting and sports signs that should not be ignored warning travelers:
17 feet Unsafe
When I arrived main street was abandoned and unpopulated. So I started exploring what little there is of Mogollon
Iris blooming along a timid and barely trickling Silver Creek running in front of the Silver Creek Inn caught my attention and I grabbed my camera. As I easily stepped across this brook it was hard to believe melting spring snows have turned this trickle into a torrent that has carried away people houses and much of the town in the past.
As I photographed rythmic sounds of sweeping came from inside the Inn. Access to the front door of the Inn was over a small wooden walkway that bridged Silver Creek. A lone bicycle was propped up on the left side rails of the bridge.
The door to the Inn was open so I walked in. I found myself in the quite, unlit, cool ane cavernous main room, with nobody home. The subdued sounds of sweeping were coming from a little court yard off the main room. Walking out into the narrow courtyard and back into the blazing sunlight I found a woman squatting with a fox tail duster lost in the reverie of sweeping debris into a dust pan. "Hello" I said, startling her. "OK if I take some photographs?
”Sure" she replied looking up at me.
Casually taking photographs I started a conversation that eventually lead to her life story. I was awestruck when I realized I’d met the Celtic , the Ghost Town Queen of Mogollon. Her name is Susy, we never got around to last names, but she did let me know she was of Irish descent and that her “kin” had moved to America to get away from the repressive government in the Emerald Isle, and its inherent bureaucracy.
Susy stated her “kin” had already moved on to Missouri by the time the Declaration of Independence was signed back east. She made it very clear that her “kin” headed west not to fulfill dreams of enterprise, but to get away from the bureaucratic virus infecting things back east spread by government and religion.
Susy graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle, and decided against going into a carrier in academia which is what her education had prepared her for. Instead she traveled around for a couple of years driven by that genetic desire to get away from bureaucracy and civilization.
Eventually she ended up in Mogollon. After spending some time in Mogollon she did one of the most powerful things a person can do, she made a decision. She decided Mogollon is where she wanted to live. "Once you decide you want to live somewhere the rest doesn't matter." She stated, and then went on to tell me she’s lived in Mogollon for 30 years, and that for the first 10 years she got by on $400.00 a year, eating tortillas and beans. The look in her eyes was mix of Irish mischief and pride. She’s still living on tortillas and beans and taking inflation into account is still doing it on $400.00 a year.
No wonder this was where I chose as my run away from it all haven, Susy had done just that and has held that energy, lived that vision, fed that dream, with an unbending determination for over 30 years.
She carried no bitterness for her choice to live off the grid, in fact she carried a fierce love of the land, its history, and all those who had gone before which came across as a deep and abiding peace. She recommended that I go visit the cemetery while there. I didn't come all this way to ignore the directive of the Celtic Ghost Town Shaman, so off I went.
I didn't really experience anything profound in the way of a spiritual experience like the one I had visiting the Native American burial grounds on Garden Island in Lake Michigan. If anything the difference between the two experiences was the story, but that tale is for some other time. When I returned to town her bike was gone from the little bridge crossing the creek leading to the front door of the Inn. The only reason she was there that day was as a laborer to clean up the courtyard in anticipation of the first customers of the year coming.
When I think of the mathematical possibility of meeting her while in town for those few hours the odds are beyond astronomical, yep, way out there beyond the contrails and into the realms of the spiritual where the odds were way in my favor, in fact a sure bet.
- Pros:Off the beaten path
- Cons:off the beaten path
- In a nutshell:Amenities at a minimum, if you want to be assured of eating and drinking water, or any thing else while there, take your own.
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