Cuervo, New Mexico - Ghost Town

by Brian Cofer December. 23, 2011 22797 views

When I was in fifth grade, my mom visited Red River, N.M., and came back with a book called Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of New Mexico, which I still own today and occasionally look at. At age 11, I was immediately hooked and fascinated by the idea of a once-thriving town given over to abandonment with only relics left to indicate that people once lived and interacted there. Anyone who has followed my blog here knows my fascination with abandonment. A lot ot the towns in that book first published in 1969 have since been reborn as tourist attractions or artist colonies. Madrid and Cerrillos come to mind. But over the past four decades many towns across New Mexico have crossed into the ghost town category.

A couple of days ago, I came upon Cuervo on the high plains of eastern New Mexico. It's not as isolated as you might think. In fact, I-40 slices right through the town and many ruins are situated on its access roads. Still, thousands whiz by daily clearly oblivious to the ruins scattered in their midst. For me, this was Disneyland, a whole town all to myself just open for exploration.

I can't find a lot of history on this place. Like most towns along I-40 from Oklahoma City to California, Cuervo was born with the railroad. Later, Route 66 came through, and I'm sure it added some life to the place, although probably not much more than a few gas stations and cafes. Judging by the wreckage and ruin I saw, Cuervo hung on into at least the middle 20th century before abandonment set in. Today, a few homes remain occupied and there's a gas station/garage along the highway, but no stores or active churches. The post office looks to have closed in recent years.

So many interesting interiors to explore. The desert climate preserves wood so well, I never once found myself standing on floorboards that didn't feel incredibly solid. If this were more toward my part of the country, I'd be a little more concerned about those things.

All of the houses were very simple. Some like this one was quite tiny.

Look inside. It's one room! I guess when nature called, there was a privy out back. Walking around here reminded me of how simply people lived, even well into the 20th century. Compare that to how much so many of us own these days.

Another house had floors covered with detritus that provided an interesting time capsule into mid cenutry life.

For example, a Saturday Evening Post from 1964

Amarillo Daily News, 1961

The church - I'm sure it was Catholic, this being New Mexico - is no longer active but is clearly maintained and locked up.

The streets are still maintained and marked. This is Bond Street. There's also Beck Street.

I didn't want to overload you, so tomorrow I'll do a second post showing Cuervo's school and Baptist church.

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There are 27 comments , add yours!
Sara G 7 years, 5 months ago

I love to walk around old towns..very interesting post. I can't help but imagine what life was like there..Congratulations it was picked as Featured Photo! Look forward to seeing more..

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Susan 7 years, 5 months ago

Congratulations on the FP! Reminded me of post-apocalyptic movies - but your series was much more thought-provoking. Your photos bring out such as sense of what "was."

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Jacki 7 years, 5 months ago

What a terrific post... so glad you were on the FP so that I got a chance to see your shots! I always find abandoned building fascinating too... thanks for sharing these!

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Sandra Vermeulen 7 years, 5 months ago

Congrats on your FP!

I do love to visit places like this.

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Kate 7 years, 5 months ago

Wow, am I glad that your post made FP! I would really like to take pictures of abandoned places, especially since there's quite a few local legends here out in "weird NJ." I just haven't had enough guts yet to stop at the ones I've driven by and explore on my own. But your blog has made quite an impression on me ... your pictures are just so vivid and full of light and details, it's almost as if you're bringing these towns back to life =)

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Chris Cann 7 years, 5 months ago

Very cool post quite interesting. Congrats on F.P.

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Joe 7 years, 5 months ago

Congratulations on having your photo selected for the Feature Page.

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Maud - Normandie - France 7 years, 5 months ago

Un set très intéressant ! j'ai l'impression de voir les images d'un film..Bravo pour la FP !

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Davorka ČEoviä‡ 7 years, 5 months ago

Congrats, amazing series!

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Pandka 7 years, 5 months ago

Very interesting, congrats!

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
David Cardona 7 years, 5 months ago

Great post! Thanks for sharing and congrats on FP! :D

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Maz 7 years, 5 months ago

Really cool post. Congrats on the FP!!!

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Moira 7 years, 5 months ago

Congrats On FP for this very informative post on sad endings to these towns. The church was obviously the centre of the community being so well maintained still

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Jay 7 years, 5 months ago

Excellent! Your topic here on abandoned towns, etc. is right down my alley. I devoured each photograph and I look forward to looking at your others. I live in Europe and nothing provide me more enjoyment than being able to walk around ruins. In Germany, it is impossible to find abandoned towns as land it is crowded in this country and there is no room for that. Anything that might become abandoned is usually razed pretty quickly and something usable is built. But castles and forts are different. I love the American west for the purpose you have stated above: the ghost towns, etc. Your pictures are dead-on. Well done and most informative series! Great to see it.

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Francesc 7 years, 5 months ago

Congrats on your FP

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Gian Luigi 7 years, 5 months ago

Congrats on your FP, well deserved!

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Sadhya Rippon 7 years, 5 months ago

This is what fp is for. To introduce us all to a photographer we might not have come across, and who's work we really like.
I love this series, and especially #8, but each shot tells such an interesting story.
Congratulations on FP. Now I will go and look at more of your posts.

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Vanda Lehel 7 years, 5 months ago

Congrats, amazing series!

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Marilyn Grimble 7 years, 5 months ago

Congrats on F.P.
Fascinating series...reminded me of Dr. Zhivago!

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Huiching 7 years, 5 months ago

Interesting set. Congrats on the Featured Photo!

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Rosely Kig 7 years, 5 months ago

Wonderful set!!! I was born in New Mexico and raised in West Texas. I have wonderful memories of traveling the back roads looking for ghost towns, old forts, abandoned mines, etc with my parents. To this day, I can not resist the urge to explore old abandoned home-sites. Just to stand in the ruins and imagine the people who once lived there- what they dreamed about, hope for, grieve over- inspires me Thank you so much for posting these and congratulations of the FP!

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Andrea 7 years, 5 months ago

Congratulations on the front page...great set!

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Patsy Abbey 7 years, 5 months ago

Congratulations on Front Page!!!

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Mallusatish Reddy 7 years, 5 months ago

Awesome post very interesting,Congratulations on your FP~!~

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Yves Monast 7 years, 5 months ago

just amazing post congrats on your FP....

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Diane Davis 7 years, 5 months ago

This is a great post. Congratulations on FP.

7 years, 5 months ago Edited
Patsy Abbey 7 years, 6 months ago

Very, very interesting!

7 years, 6 months ago Edited