Skip to main content

A Quick Stopover in Lordsburg, NM

  

A quick glance at a map of southwest New Mexico might suggest that the city of Lordsburg is nothing more than a tiny outpost community with little to no history to speak of. A closer inspection will reveal this narrative to be far from accurate. Lordsburg has an estimated population of 2,400 (ca. 2019) and is the county seat of Hidalgo County, the southernmost county in New Mexico and the anchor of the state’s “Boot Heel” – a geographic feature born from the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, which saw the United States purchase the lands south of Arizona’s Gila River and those west of the Rio Grande River in an effort to resolve ongoing border disputes in the aftermath of the Mexican War. (In fact, Hidalgo County is named in honor of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the conflict in 1848.) America was also motivated to make the purchase, because it saw these lands as being optimal for a deep southern transcontinental railroad route, a route that finally saw construction 15 years after the end of the Civil War. Lordsburg itself was founded in 1880, originally as a stop along this transcontinental railroad line eventually completed by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1883. 

The town’s position as a “railroad town” led to its quick development into a bustling city that at its peak was among the largest in southern New Mexico. (To this day, the Union Pacific Railroad maintains a large presence in town and Amtrak’s cross-country rail service continues to stop in Lordsburg.) This status also maintained itself in the post-World War II years when long-distance automobile travel began to take over all corners of the country. The city was conveniently located at the junction of US Routes 70 & 80 and given its relative proximity to southern California and western Texas, Lordsburg soon became a convenient stopping/lodging place for long-distance travelers in the region. Additionally, the town became notable in those postwar years for being home to one of the few hotels in the region open to African-American guests – a feature that made the town popular among certain ethnic groups during the final years of legal segregation.

Over the years, US 80 was gradually replaced west of Texas (both functionally and literally) by Interstate 10 and the freeway’s construction created a bypass around the center of the old town, but the city’s visibility and importance to travelers has not waned over the years. Nowadays there are about a dozen hotels in the city & surrounding area and it continues to be a logical and popular stopover destination along the interstate between Tucson and Las Cruces. Yours truly became just one more in a long line of American travelers and chose Lordsburg as a stopping place for the night back in February 2020 and in doing so was able to spend some time exploring the city and immediate area. Please enjoy this photo summary of this historic American rail town:


Scenes along the Interstate around town

The former alignment of US 70/80 through central Lordsburg is now signed as an I-10 business route. The scenes above feature the drive along what's known fittingly as "Motel Drive" eastbound. The scenes below feature the drive westbound along this street. In select photos, take note of the older generation overhead/roadside signage that remains in place and in decent enough condition.
The junction of old US 70/80 in downtown Lordsburg features a tightly-packed trumpet interchange; its location and dimensions are constrained by the central business district next door, but also the city's lifeline - the Union Pacific Railroad tracks across the street. The images below feature this junction from the US 70 point of view:
We'll wrap up our look at Lordsburg and southwestern New Mexico with a few images below featuring the overall landscape and the region's natural beauty. It's an area of the country I had never seen prior to February 2020 and its one that continues to fascinate & interest me today. I hope you get the chance to check this area out and see it for yourself!



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Deer Isle Bridge in Maine

As graceful a bridge that I ever set my eyes upon, the Deer Isle Bridge (officially known as the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge) surprisingly caught my eye as I was driving around coastal Maine one Saturday afternoon. About 35 miles south of Bangor, Maine , the Deer Isle Bridge connects the Blue Hill Peninsula of Downeast Maine with Little Deer Isle over the Eggemoggin Reach on ME 15 between the towns of Sedgwick and Deer Isle . It should be noted that Little Deer Isle is connected to Deer Isle by way of a boulder lined causeway, and there is a storied regatta that takes place on the Eggemoggin Reach each summer. But the Deer Isle Bridge holds many stories, not just for the vacationers who spend part of their summer on Deer Isle or in nearby Stonington , but for the residents throughout the years and the folks who have had a hand bringing this vital link to life.   The Deer Isle Bridge was designed by David Steinman and built by the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville,

Former US Route 99 through Athlone and the last Wheeler Ridge-Sacramento corridor expressway

Athlone was a siding of the Southern Pacific Railroad located in Merced County on the alignment of what was US Route 99 between the cities of Chowchilla and Merced.  The Athlone corridor of US Route 99 was one of the first in San Joaquin Valley to fully upgraded to four lane expressway standards.  The Athlone expressway corridor was inherited by California State Route 99 when US Route 99 was truncated to Ashland, Oregon during June 1965.  The four-lane expressway through Athlone was the last segment of what had been US Route 99 in the Wheeler Ridge-Sacramento corridor to be bypassed by a freeway.  The Athlone expressway corridor was bypassed by the modern California State Route 99 freeway in 2016.  Despite being put on a road diet and narrowed what was the Athlone expressway corridor still displays evidence of being part of US Route 99.   Above the blog cover photo displays the Athlone expressway corridor of US Route 99 south of Merced as depicted in the July 1939 California Highways &

California State Route 38

California State Route 38 is a fifty-nine-mile State Highway located entirety in San Bernardino County and a component of the Rim of the World Highway.  California State Route 38 begins at California State Route 18 at Bear Valley Dam of the San Bernardino Mountains and follows an easterly course on the north shore of Big Bear Lake.  California State Route 38 briefly multiplexes California State Route 18 near Baldwin Lake and branches east towards the 8,443-foot-high Onyx Summit.  From Onyx Summit the routing of California State Route 38 reverses course following a largely westward path through the San Bernardino Mountains towards a terminus at Interstate 10 in Redlands.   Pictured as the blog cover is California State Route 38 at Onyx Summit the day it opened to traffic on August 12th, 1961.   Part 1; the history of California State Route 38 California State Route 38 (CA 38) is generally considered to be the back way through the San Bernardino Mountains to Big Bear Lake of Bear Valley