Kingston is a tiny town along NM-152. Present population is 32. During the 1880s, Kingston became the center of a thriving silver mining district that included Hillsboro and Lake Valley. Kingston boasted an opera house, a church, a school, a bordello, three newspapers and 20+ saloons. Visited by the famous and infamous, such as Mark Twain, Lillian Russell, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Kingston became known as “the Gem of the Black Range.” The Spit & Whittle Club, founded by miners and holding the distinction as the nation's oldest continuously-active social club, dates to 1888 and still meets monthly in the old schoolhouse. Along with the schoolhouse (an unassuming adobe building that replaced the original wood one that burned; now a museum and closed when we visited), the former Percha Bank is one of the only original town buildings left.
In 1924, an act of Congress declared the magnificent forested mountains to the west “The Gila Wilderness,” as the world’s first designated wilderness. Today Kingston is a gateway into the Gila National Forest, Wilderness, and the Gila Cliff Dwellings.