"Artist Colony on the Turquoise Trail" Top 5 Page for this destination Madrid by AlbuqRay

Madrid Travel Guide: 25 reviews and 66 photos

Former Coal Town

Madrid was once wholely owned by a coal company. The area was booming in the 1800's. The mine supplied coal for the Santa Fe Railroad, the US Government, and local mines and people. In the 1930's, the company town was famous for its Fourth of July parade, lighted Christmas displays and minor league baseball games in the first lighted stadium in the west. It is close to the famous Ortiz Mountains' gold mine and the historical Cerillos turquoise mine. Madrid, pronounced "MAD-dred," is ~25 miles south of Santa Fe on State Highway 14, the Turquoise Trail. It is ~55 miles from Albuquerque.

With the switch to an oil-based economy, the town died. As I understand it, in the 1950's the company tried to sell the whole town in one piece for $250,000 with no success. After breaking it up into smaller lots, evidently everything sold in a few days. The artists started arriving in the 1970's. Now many of the old buildings are restored and made into art galleries and arts & crafts shops. The original tavern is still in business. The old engine house is now a melodrama theater.

Madrid will probably never be very big. The aquifer is not good and there is a lack of potable water. Madrid is no longer the secret it used to be. Plenty of tourists from Santa Fe are found there in the summer with the corresponding impact on prices. However, it is a charming, peaceful place to visit in the off-season.

Xmas in Madrid

Although Madrid was once known in the 1930's as the "Christmas City of the Southwest" and TWA (Transcontinental & Western Air) used to divert its evening flights to see the lights, the last pageants of that era ended in 1941. Madrid used to have the reputation that many residents had been abducted by UFO's. There was even a shop called El Abducto. I am wondering if the lights attracted more than just TWA flights.

Madrid has revived its Xmas lights tradition. They start on the first weekend in December. Even the outdoor toilets have lights. The old house in the picture had more than enough decoration with just a wreath though. See also my Things to Do tip on "Xmas in Madrid."

Madrid Seven-11

The old hotel and boarding house has been restored and is now the grocery store. If you want to rent a movie, buy homemade cookies or an ice cream bar, this is the place to go. It is located on the north end of Main Street on the west side. The old minor league baseball field is around the curve just north of the old boarding house. It is abandoned now but you can see the rock walls and the old covered stands, artifacts of another era.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Interesting people and shops; peaceful atmosphere
  • Cons:Can get busy in the summer with tourists from Santa Fe
  • In a nutshell:Artist colony in the foothills of the Ortiz Mountains
  • Last visit to Madrid: Dec 2005
  • Intro Updated Jan 6, 2006
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Reviews (9)

Comments (4)

  • ATXtraveler's Profile Photo
    Dec 26, 2008 at 6:53 AM

    This may fit into our spring trip out to Mesa Verde... thanks for the tips.

  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo
    Nov 22, 2007 at 5:54 AM

    Thanks for reviving fond memories of my trip to Alb. and Turquoise trail. We were fascinated w/ Madrid...and I want to return to spend more time. Looks as if lots more artists around now.

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Apr 13, 2007 at 6:31 AM

    Quaint little town...I hope it recaptures its heydeys. Art should certainly attract some visitors! It must have looked so pretty at Christmas...

  • kymbanm's Profile Photo
    Dec 3, 2005 at 12:46 PM

    A beautiful day in Madrid! Ahhhh, so wish I could've joined in :)


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