Ghost Towns: Cuervo, New Mexico


Even within the offbeat world of ghost cities Cuervo, New Mexico, stands aside. In contrast to different ghosts, a lot of which sprouted up in distant locations that spelled the group’s doom after residents’ livelihoods disappeared, Cuervo was and nonetheless is quickly accessible. Although largely deserted a long time in the past, the desert village stays in full view of I-40, alongside which hundreds of automobiles velocity each day. Curious guests can take Exit 291 to a frontage street after which meander filth roads by way of what stays of Cuervo. Even the railroad tracks that gave it life hold busy, trains rumbling by on schedule. Regardless, this as soon as vibrant group appears destined to be a ghost city, although on a minimum of two events it appeared as if it would rally.

Schoolhouse No. 6 is made out of the ever-present native purple sandstone.
(John Home)

Cuervo was based in 1901 as a siding when the westering Chicago, Rock Island & Gulf Railroad prolonged its tracks from the Texas Panhandle into east-central New Mexico Territory. Cuervo (pronounced “CUHR-voh” by locals) is the Spanish phrase for raven, a ubiquitous fowl within the area, although the roadrunner is the state fowl. The CRI&G possible named it after one in all two close by hills—both 5,366-foot Cuervo Hill (9 miles to the northwest because the crow flies) or 4,984-foot Cuervito Peak (a mile northwest of city).

A put up workplace opened in 1902, and the city took root when ranchers moved into the realm round 1910. Not lengthy after their arrival, nevertheless, the CRI&G deserted the siding in favor of Tucumcari (40 miles to the east) and Santa Rosa (17 miles to the west). Any hope of development as a cattle cargo level or provide hub was misplaced earlier than Cuervo might grow to be firmly established.

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In 1926 street crews laid down Route 66 by way of Cuervo, prompting retailers to lure passing motorists with fuel stations, inns and shops.

Provided a lifeline when street crews laid Route 66 by way of the middle of city in 1926, Cuervo added fuel stations, inns and shops to cater to passing motorists and two church buildings, two faculties and two docs to are inclined to residents. Its inhabitants peaked at 300 within the early Nineteen Forties, although there was little to advocate it—even much less so in 1946 when journey author Jack D. Rittenhouse dashed off this description in A Information E-book to Freeway 66: “Pop. 128…few fuel stations; groceries; no cafe, storage or different vacationer lodging. A scant dozen dwellings comprise this small city.”

One other alternative for rebirth beckoned from the horizon within the late Nineteen Sixties as I-40 approached Cuervo. However the four-lane freeway, with its broad median and shoulders, barreled by way of the center of city like a bowling ball by way of pins, leaving the group cut up in two. By then the final faculty had closed, and most residents had moved on down the road.

“I’ve been to greater than 70 ghost cities, and I’ve been to Cuervo 4 instances,” says ghost city aficionado John M. Mulhouse, writer of Deserted New Mexico: Ghost Cities, Endangered Structure and Hidden Historical past. “It’s the creepiest one I’ve been to. There are quite a few studies of unsavory exercise within the deserted buildings. Cuervo can be completely different as a result of it’s comparatively intact. There are many adobe homes nonetheless standing, however only a basic lack of general disturbance. It’s significantly uncommon as a result of I-40 runs proper by way of it. So does Route 66.”

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The purple sandstone Santo Niño de Atocha Catholic Church holds occasional providers.
(Karen Schudson)

But amid this array of abandoned buildings is a beacon of hope—the tidy purple sandstone Santo Niño de Atocha Catholic Church, which nonetheless holds occasional providers. A carved stone over the entryway data it was commissioned in April 1915 by P. Martinez, Vic Segura and Max Salas, the latter of whom constructed the church. Their names are a reminder Cuervo is actually not a mirage and that a whole bunch of individuals as soon as lived there. “The priest at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Santa Rosa had me set up a brand new roof about 4 years in the past,” says Josh Pacheco, proprietor of Pacheco Development & Trucking in Tucumcari.

It’s tough to think about tiny Santo Niño would entice sufficient folks to maneuver again and resurrect the outdated homesteads. But regardless of having misplaced its put up workplace in 2011, Cuervo nonetheless has a handful of residents and retains its personal zip code—88417. WW

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