Sunday, April 14, 2019

Good Bones

The Hub Plaza, home of the wonderful Tapas Tree featuring world street food
Home town news

The Spanish conquistadors brought copper mining to what would become Silver City NM. In 1800 Colonel José Manuel Carrasco learned of a massive copper deposit from an Apache chief who showed him a sample of the mineral. Carrasco named the deposit Santa Rita del Cobre. After several years he sold the mine to Don Manuel Elquea who was followed by a colorful list of characters who worked the mine. In 1828 Christopher “Kit” Carson was employed as a teamster at the Santa Rita mine. After the Civil War a silver deposit was discovered on Chloride Hill and American miners led my Captain John Bullard began building the town that became Silver City. Bullard, in fact, laid out the town but was killed by marauding Apaches in February 1871 before seeing his vision realized. He did have the distinction of being buried in Silver City’s first grave.

The Silco Theatre

In its rowdy early days Silver City assumed the characteristics of mining communities throughout the west. It was a rough and violent place. Sheriff Henry Whitehill who brought some order to the town arrested Billy the Kid twice for theft. The Kid's mother was buried in the town cemetery. Later Whitehill referred to the outlaw as a likeable kid whose stealing was more a function of necessity than criminality. Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch frequented the saloons and brothels on Bullard Street.

Javalina Coffee House
Al fresco at the Javalina

When Captain Bullard planned the town, he didn’t anticipate the torrential rains that soak Silver City every summer so two foot high sidewalks had to be built to accommodate the river of water that flowed through its streets after a deluge. A ditch was dug to handle the runoff. 

The Gila Theatre

There’s a burgeoning art and music scene in Silver City and its Downtown Arts District shows promise. There once were three theatres on Bullard Street, the Silco which became a community movie house in 2016, the Gila which was shuttered for the final time in 2003 and the El Sol which presents live theatre today. From its New Directors Series the play Marjorie Prime completed its run April 14.

Silver City hosts several festivals during the year, among them The Southwest Festival of the Written Word, the Silver City Blues Festival and the Chicano Music Fest.

Silver City with its 10,000 residents is a contender. Its temperate climate with January highs in the low fifties and July highs in the mid-eighties is most appealing. It’s got a university. Housing is affordable. It’s three hours from Tucson. Cool art deco signs don't hurt.

I’m giving it a thumbs-up.


Blacks Crossing said...

A big thumbs up to Silver City and to your blog, Steve. Your color images make it shine, and I particularly love the Silver City Daily Press and Gila Theatre images. The history lesson was a real plus. Thanks for making the road trip south and sharing it with us.

Terry T. said...

A thumbs up indeed. Looks worthy of a trip to see first hand. Thanks for the intro.

steve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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