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  Home : Travel : USA : New Mexico

ELIZABETHTOWN, NEW MEXICO

Celebrating 100 Years as a Ghost Town

by John Troesser
Photos by Ken and Yvonne Rudine
Elizabethtown ruin
Hotel Ruin
"It used to be her town."

Elizabethtown, 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.
Old store in Elizabethtown
Believed to be possibly Froelick's Store by Philip Varney's book "New Mexico's Best Ghost Towns"
After 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.
Elizabethtown hotel ruin
Another view of the Hotel Mutz
The 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.
Old truck with Elizabethtown museum sign

Old 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.
Elizabethtown Cemetery >
Location and Directions
Colfax County
Hwy 38
5 Miles N of Eagle Nest

John Troesser
Photos
Ken Rudine
August 14, 2005

See USA Travel
Recommended Books
New Mexico's Best Ghost Towns


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