Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Challenge to All Those Creative Writers Out There

When I decided to post a blog about New Mexico’s ghost towns, I didn’t realize just how involved that would be. There are dozens of ghost towns or nearly ghost towns scattered throughout the state. On sober reflection, this is not surprising. I imagine every state in the Union has its dead towns around which local myths (and perhaps eerie spirits) swirl.

There are a number of good websites dedicated to the subject of New Mexico’s towns, one of which is In fact, I would like to open the subject with a rather poignant epitaph cited by Viva. It was taken from a gravestone in a cemetery in Alma, New Mexico:

Elsworth H. Tipton
B. 1926, D. 1932, 5 yrs. 7 mos. 22 days
Our little treasure
Budded on Earth
To Bloom in Heaven

That could be the story of every dead and dying community in our great state. Of course, some of them likely bloomed in some place other than Heaven. Take for instance, Elizabethtown, New Mexico, or as it is commonly known, E-Town.

Elizabethtown, New Mexico
The following is what Wickipedia has to say about the little community:

"Elizabethtown is a small unincorporated community in Colfax County, New Mexico, United States. It is located just off New Mexico State Road 38, between the communities of Eagle Nest and Red River. It is just east of the Carson National Forest. The community is a former mining town, and lies northeast of Scully Mountain, and west of Baldy Mountain.
"Mostly a ghost town now, Elizabethtown began in 1866 with the founding of area gold mines and the Mystic Copper Mine. It was New Mexico's first incorporated town. Founded by the commander of Fort Union (north of Las Vegas, New Mexico), Captain William H. Moore, and named for his daughter, Elizabeth Catherine Moore. Nicknamed E-Town, the town grew to over 7000 residents at its height of prosperity in 1870, and it was designated the first seat of the newly formed Colfax County. In 1872 there were only about 100 residents left as the mines dwindled, and the county seat was moved to Cimarron. The town revived somewhat when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad passed nearby in the early 1890s, making mining feasible once again. The village was also part of the Colfax County War. A fire took most of the town in 1903, and the town mostly died out by 1917 with the decline in the mines.
"Serial killer Charles Kennedy lived between Elizabethtown and Taos, luring weary travelers to dine and stay with him at his cabin; he may have killed 14 or more people. Kennedy was killed by a group of angry vigilantes, led by the notorious Clay Allison."

Cold, impersonal facts, right? The article hints at flesh and blood, mayhem and murder, the passions of seven thousand beating hearts, but it is merely a recitation of dry data. But think of how many stories are hidden there. breathes some life into the subject with the following opening:

“A funny thing happened to travelers between Elizabethtown and Taos - they never returned. At least not those who stayed at Charles Kennedy's resting place between the two cities. It wasn't until Mrs. Kennedy arrived in Elizabethtown one day and announced that her husband had killed their baby, that officials began searching Kennedy's house. They found bones and later unearthed skeletal remains under the floorboards.”

Definitely a story there for a writer. Go ahead, guys and gals. I challenge you to glean exciting story lines from the above and the details that follow, and turn them into flash fiction (500 words or less) to be posted on your own sites (you have one don't you?). Let me know when you've accepted the challenge so I can direct our readers to them.

Elizabethtown facts: 
·       First incorporated town in New Mexico
·       Set in beautiful Moreno Valley with Mount Baldy in the distance
·       Began as a tent city in the 1860s during Mount Baldy gold rush
·       At its height, boasted 7 saloons and three dance halls
·       Once county seat of Colfax County
·       Mining operations began to fail and a fire in 1903 sealed the doom of the town
·       A museum run by descendants of one of E-Town’s citizens survives today

Take up the challenge, guys and gals...and write! 

Before we close, I’d like to show you a picture of a real New Mexico ghost town where the silence resounds today, as it has for centuries. Photo credits to, a great source of free photos on a wide variety of subjects.
Cliff Dwelling at Bandelier National Monument
New Mexico
By the way, can anyone hazard a guess about what appears to be an old Roman chariot in the foreground of the photo of Elizabethtown?

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading, and let me hear from you.


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