100 Years as a Ghost Town
by John Troesser
Photos by Ken and Yvonne Rudine
|"It used to
be her town."
aka "E" Town was was platted in 1868 and became New Mexico's first
incorporated town. It was named after the daughter of John Moore,
one of the town's founders. Elizabeth Catherine Moore grew up to teach
school in "her" town and marry a local man named Joseph Henry Lowrey.
Both are now interred in the city cemetery. It's a rare situation
for a town's namesake to not only live in their town, but to actually
make a contribution and then die there. Her last home is still standing.
Elizabethtown had it's first boom when a man looked down, picked up
a rock from a stream and noticed a metallic sheen. He then shouted
the word that would change everything - Copper! Granted, a copper
rush is understandably slower and less frantic than a gold rush -
but still they came, they dug, they smelted. They may not have tipped
the waitresses with copper nuggets or wore copper-capped teeth, but
like Gertrude Stein never said: a boom is a boom is a boom.
to be possibly Froelick's Store by Philip Varney's book "New Mexico's
Best Ghost Towns"
the copper boom fizzled (about 1875) the copper barons moved away
to invest in miniature railroads and raise thoroughbred goats outside
of Branson, Missouri. Then in 1890 someone discovered gold that the
copper miners had somehow overlooked. This time the boom was more
traditional and a lot more frantic. People did wear gold teeth, tip
their waitresses with nuggets and the homicide rate increased accordingly.
An estimated $5 million in gold was taken out of the area in a single
12 month period - never to return. The population of the town was
up to 3,000 at one point.
E-Town naturally had its bad actors. Gunman Clay Allison - (more commonly
associated with Texas) hung out here as well as "Black Jack" Ketchum.
Clay was eventually buried in downtown Pecos, Texas behind the chamber
of commerce - a fact that would be a bad joke if it wasn't true. He
was a bad-tempered man and when he somehow managed to run over his
own head in a one-wagon accident, there wasn't a wet eye in the house.
One of the more colorful businessmen of E Town was hosteler Charles
Kenedy. Kenedy was experimenting with an early prototype of the "Roach
Motel." He had the part about "checking in - but not checking out"
down pat - but his downfall was that he was experimenting on humans.
He went too far one day - by beating his son (or step-son) to death
and his wife blew the whistle. Body parts that Charlie was slow in
disposing of were found under the hotel. Angry townsfolk lynched him
and dragged his body to the extent where he (it) was decapitated.
If that wasn't bad enough - he also lost his good standing with the
local Better Business Bureau.
view of the Hotel Mutz
most photographed ruin in Elizabethtown is a former hotel - some identify
it as the Mutz Hotel while others say it was Mr. Kenedy's Little Hotel
of Horrors. It may have been both. E-Town suffered a fire around 1903
and the hotel was a casualty. For people with more than a passing
interest in ghost towns, a local museum has a good photographic record
of the community. Elizabeth Moore lived to see her town become a ghost.
Dodge truck on Hwy 38 5 miles north of Eagle Nest marking Elizabethtown
| Being one of
the more interesting ghost towns in the entire western U.S., Elizabethtown
is included on almost every ghost town site.
5 Miles N of Eagle Nest
© John Troesser
Photos © Ken
August 14, 2005
See USA Travel
New Mexico's Best Ghost Towns