Silver City was a mining town, as were most early towns in Southern Arizona and New Mexico. In fact, Silver City most resembles Bisbee, Arizona. Both were built on hills over 5,000′ elevation. Both have many stately structures built in the late 19th and early 20th century. Both now have a thriving artist community and many galleries. Both have good restaurants. And both are worth a good walkabout.
Silver City is about a three hour drive from Tucson, Arizona. While visiting the Silver City area you will see several mines dotting the hills. Some of the big copper strip mines are still actively wiping out whole mountains. Clearly they are the economic engine of this area.
At about 5,800′ elevation, the temperature of Silver City is usually 10-15 degrees cooler than Tucson. Silver City’s main attraction for us was its central location to other places we wanted to visit, such as the Gila Cliff Dwellings, City of Rocks, Old Mesilla, and Pinos Altos. However, the history of Silver City itself is reason enough to visit.
May 21, 2016. Having arrived at our headquarters at the Inn On Broadway, we enjoyed a walkabout the old town of Silver City. Ms. Karen did the walking while I rode “Zippy” my trusty red scooter. Sandy, our host and innkeeper was very helpful with suggestions for dining out.
Note: TripAdvisor and others recommend the Curious Kumquat. We ate there but were told they would close permanently in a few weeks. So you can cross it off your list. Because we were day-tripping, we never dined in Silver City except at Curious Kumquat when we first arrived. However, we are told there are several great places to eat; Diane’s, Tre Rosat, and 1Zero6 to name a few. If you go, plan in advance. Some restaurants are closed on weekdays, some on weekends, some on Sunday, some on Monday.
Western New Mexico University was founded in 1893 while New Mexico was still a territory. It offers 12 Master’s Degree programs and has over 3500 students. It is well known for its School of Education and Social Work.
The Western New Mexico University Museum is dedicated to Mimbres Pottery, an ancestral tribe of Native Americans who lived in this area between 1000 and 1200 AD.
The church we liked the best has been re-purposed into a meditation/yoga facility. Before that, it was The First Church of Harmony. Before that, it was the Church of What’s Happenin’. Can’t get better than that!
Instead of cutting this old tree down entirely, these folks lacquered it and used it to hang bird houses and other objet d’ art.
The people in charge of Silver City tourism want you to know that the town has a history. Thus, they have erected many interpretive signs that explain the past, such as Billy The Kid’s mom lived and is buried here. Young Billy was arrested in Silver City twice for stealing. The sheriff said at the time that Billy was a good kid and probably stole out of necessity.
The sign above chronicles Anita Scott Coleman, a contributor to the Harlem Renaissance.
One night in July 1895 a flash flood took out Silver City’s Main Street and left a ditch 55 feet deep. You can read about this avoidable catastrophe at the Silver City Visitors Center.
Faced with a lemon, the townsfolk decided to make lemonade. In this case, they turned an ugly scar into a fine park that runs along a creek. “Big Ditch Park” has lots of mature shade trees, benches and picnic tables. Very pleasant, indeed.
Across the street from our home away from home is a very fine museum of the area, the former home of the Ailman Family, wealthy merchants. Like many homes in the area, it is built to last from brick. Our walkabout town took in many stately brick homes, many with Mansard roofs. The Inn on Broadway is late 19th century, whose brick wall keep things quiet and cool inside. Many of these brick homes still exist, perhaps re-purposed.
Walk about this old town. Get a sense of what it was like here in the late 19th and early 20th century. Enjoy the local art galleries, shops and restaurants. The natives are friendly.