A treasure from the archives: Cuervo, New Mexico
Included in my recently discovered treasure trove of lost images was this trip to Cuervo, New Mexico in September of 2005. The photos were unedited so, to match the look of my more recent ghost town work, I transferred the images to my phone and edited them with Snapseed. I’m pretty sure I shot these with a first generation Canon Digital Rebel and the 18-55mm kit lens that came with it.
One day they all left
While visiting Cuervo, you expect to see the word “Croatoan” carved in a tree. It’s like the inhabitants of the town all went on an ill fated field trip. Many of the houses are still furnished and even the hair salon looks ready for business… sorta. Do keep in mind that this was in 2005, there’s no telling what is or isn’t there now.
History of Cuervo, New Mexico
Cuervo was founded in 1901 when the railroad came through. In 1910 the surrounding land was opened to cattle ranching and this gave more people a reason to live there. In the 1940’s, when Route 66 came to town, the population peaked at over 300. Despite a rapidly dwindling population, Cuervo managed to keep its own post office until September 10, 2011 but it does still have its own zip code of 88417.
Today, Cuervo is considered an unincorporated community. It is located roughly 17 miles east of Santa Rosa off I-40. If you go there, don’t go alone. There are still a few observant locals living in the hills above and they are most certainly aware of any visitors to the ghost town. In fact, the last time I was there (circa 2011) my group was confronted by a local with a rifle. After chatting with him for awhile, he turned out to be friendly but nonetheless you wouldn’t want to be there alone. Additionally, there are plenty of things like uncovered wells that are overgrown with weeds and many ways to get hurt.
Don’t go ghost town exploring alone, it’s just not a good idea. And, as always, take only photos and leave only footprints.
The School House
This beautiful old school house in the first structure you pass when driving into Cuervo. It sits at the corner of Cross Road and Country Rd. 2C. In 2005, the building was wide open and you could walk right in.
I wish I had taken more photos showing the intact tin ceiling but you can kinda see it in a couple of these pictures. The chalk board frame was still on the wall. There were also a couple stoves and lots of varmint poop so maybe not the best spot for a picnic.
This church, located on Cross Road between Aguila St. and Bond St., has never been open or accessible though the fence has changed somewhat over the years.
The Salon, which is next door to the church on Cross Road, is an excellent example of a place that looks like the people left not knowing they wouldn’t be coming back. This building is full of all kinds of things that you would expect someone to take with them if they were planning to leave.
The little house with many boards
This is the house pictured at the top of this post. I just love the exposed bead board walls. I also love how, in the above photo, you can see a semi-truck passing by on I-40. It really creates a sense of being in a land that was passed up when Route 66 was decommissioned and the interstate took its place. Imagine sitting on the porch of that house, watching cars go by on the new interstate as the population of your town dwindles down to no one.
I wish I had been brave enough to go inside the blue mobile home but I think I thought that it would probably collapse on me if I did.
Abandoned house next to the church
The Hawkins Building in Cuervo, New Mexico
The Hawkins building is on the east end of town on Cross Road. I don’t know what this building was but it doesn’t look like a house. Maybe it was the post office or a store? The name “Hawkins” caught my attention because, at the time, I was a huge fan of the HBO series “Carnivale” and the main character’s name was Ben Hawkins.
Writing on the wall
All of the writing pictured below was on the walls inside the Hawkins building. It’s all done in pencil. Some of it is in Spanish and some of them have dates in the 1920’s and 30’s. I thought they were interesting and that someone reading this blog may recognize the name or handwriting of a relative.
The last house at the edge of town
This abandoned adobe house sits at the far east end of Cross Road in Cuervo. Beyond here, there be dragons.