Scenic USA - New Mexico
|Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Photography
Precious metals, vigilantes, a county war, a serial killer and a volume of colorful characters have all added their own unique pages to Elizabethtown's history.
It was a handful of "pretty rocks" that started E-Town's boom to prominence. Hoping to trade his rocks for supplies, a Ute Indian presented the leader of Fort Union, William H. Moore, with some samples rich in copper. When Moor's scouting party located the area where the copper was originally found, one member of the party also discovered an even more interesting find ... GOLD!
It wasn't long before word leaked out and Baldy Mountain was crawling with prospectors. Even though Lucien B. Maxwell was sole owner of the land, he saw no way to stop the horde. Seeing a business deal in the making, Maxwell charged the squatters usage fees plus a cut of each claim. Captain Moore and his brother also set up shop, opening a general store to supply the miners who continued to pour in. First it was cabins, then more stores and houses sprouted up around Moore's General Store and E-Town was born. Named after Moore's daughter Elizabeth, the town quickly reached 7000 residents. Vigilante justice reigned, often lead by the notorious Clay Allison and Black Jack Ketchum. Charles Kennedy, another colorful town character, lured travelers in with dinner and a place to stay. Like a chapter from a Hitchcock movie, at least 14 of Kennedy's visitors were never seen again.
Unable to collect from his renters, land holder L.B. Maxwell sold his interests around Mount Baldy. When the new owners arrived and tried to evict the hundreds of squatters, the Colfax County War erupted.
A large fire nearly erased the town in 1903, and the remaining town's folk picked up their belongings, dismantled their homes and moved southward to set up their homesites around a newly formed Eagle Nest Lake. In a few short years the town's population plummeted over 70 percent. Today, a handful of buildings are all that remain of this once prosperous town.
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