Southern Pacific

Coming in from southeastern Arizona, old US-80 rejoins I-10 at a crossroads community aptly called Road Forks, near the tin-roofed ghost town of Steins. The freeway swerves south, 18 mi (29 km) father east, to bypass the town of Lordsburg (pop. 2,427), named not from any religious conviction but in honor of the Southern Pacific railroad engineer who plotted it in 1880.

Silver City, an evocative old mining town high in the mountains 44 mi (77 km) northeast of Lordsburg, was another early stomping ground of Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid. It makes an excellent detour from the I-10 freeway between Lordsburg and Deming. If you have a taste for enigmatic ancient ruins, the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (575/536-9461) in the wilderness north of Silver City are well worth setting aside a full day.

New Mexico’s best-preserved ghost town, Shakespeare, is 3 mi (4.8 km) south of Lordsburg on a well-marked dirt road. Briefly home to some 3,000 silver miners during the early 1870s, Shakespeare was abandoned when the mines dried up, only to be reborn during another brief mining boom in the 1880s. By the 1930s it was turned into a ranch by the Hill family, whose descendants have lived there for more than 80 years, caring for the buildings. They conduct guided tours (575/542-9034, selected dates each month, $7) of the Grant House saloon, a former Butterfield Stagecoach station, and the Stratford Hotel, where Billy the Kid washed dishes as a young boy.

Map of the Southern Pacific Route through New Mexico

Map of Southern Pacific through New Mexico.
Map of Southern Pacific through New Mexico.

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