A ghost town with a colorful history yields a few surprises.

Elizabethtown, New Mexico, was a mining boom town in the 1860s. Gold and copper were found in the Moreno Valley of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, and the town blossomed to some 7000 residents as people attempted to cash in on potential riches. Stores, saloons, brothels, and a hotel sprang up to serve the miners. Questionable land claims, squatters, and fragile frontier law led to the Colfax County War, which claimed the lives of about 200 people. Further adding to the town’s brief but colorful history was the discovery of a serial killer living on the road to Taos who preyed on travelers through the area. The suspect was lynched in the streets of Elizabethtown before trial. Modest mine output and high production and transportation costs dampened enthusiasm of the mining companies, and the town quickly dwindled. A devastating fire in 1903 destroyed many of the commercial buildings of the town, and by 1917, the town was largely abandoned.

Today, a few residents call Elizabethtown home, and modest museum has been built that displays artifacts from the town’s boom days. Amongst the ruins are several decidedly more modern vehicles. A Ford F800 fire truck sits next to the restored church, perhaps a testament to the legacy of fire in the history of the town. The shell of a 1940s vintage Mercury sits rotting in the weeds across the road from the ruins of the old hotel. These colorful vehicles add to the odd character of the ghost town.