Lucy, New Mexico is a long drive to nowhere
While searching for ghost towns and abandoned places to visit in New Mexico, I came across a couple of blogs and websites mentioning the ghost town of Lucy, New Mexico. Lucy is 84 miles and an hour and a half drive from my house. I stopped there on the way to Cedarvale which, as it turns out, was the silver lining of this story.
Well, for crying out loud. Tell me I didn’t drive all the way the heck out here just to find a dead coyote nailed to a fence….
Yeah, that’s about the size of it.
Whatever remains of a ghost town that may have once stood here are gone like they never existed. I did however, make a gruesome discovery. For the record, this coyote crime scene is not what I wanted to find.
History of Lucy, New Mexico
The town of Lucy was established in 1908 and the original name was Lucia. In 1914 the name was changed to Lucy. By 1916 Lucy had a post office, two general stores, a one room school house, a Santa Fe Rail Road Depot and about 10 homes. Given the booming metropolis, a four-room hotel was built in the fall of 1917.
A short love with a long divorce
The good times didn’t last but the bad days stretched out over the horizon. Most residents of Lucy were farmers and ranchers or they worked for the railroad. The Great Depression coupled with the Dust Bowl created a perfect storm of economy killing conditions. Left with no money and a pocket full of dust, many residents skipped town in the dead of night leaving store owners on the hook for expenses they couldn’t cover.
By 1940, the population had dwindled to the point that the school was decommissioned and the post office closed in 1942. The railroad depot was relocated to Estancia and then later to a local ranch. The last entry on the record books is from ruination day, April 14, in 1979. A train wreck derailed 42 cars spilling out Ford Broncos and Lincoln Continentals like Hot Wheels in the desert sand.
After that there was nothing until the buildings disappeared sometime between 2018 and 2020.
A day late and a dollar short
The reason I do what I do, drive all over the state of New Mexico, looking for ghost towns to photograph, is mainly for posterity. To document what’s left as a means of saying, “this place was here”. There are structures documented on this blog that no longer stand and I know of at least one instance where my photos may well be that last ones taken before the final nail was put in the coffin.
Like a stress dream where I forgot to feed the fish and they all died, I was too late for Lucy.
I let her down.
I wouldn’t have driven all the way out here if I had known that this cemetery is all there was. But, on the other hand, at least there was this cemetery. A lonely consolation prize, the Lucy Cemetery is all that remains of Lucy, New Mexico.
I visited Lucy, New Mexico on June 20, 2020 and the reason I didn’t write about it for three years is because I wasn’t going to write about it at all. There was nothing to write about but then I found this photo (see above). Shot with a first generation Lens Baby that is very difficult to use, I did not like this photo in 2020. Probably because I was mad about the coyote business. I didn’t like this, or any photo from this trip, but then I changed my mind.
Most of the headstones in the Lucy Cemetery are unmarked or illegible except this one. Young Susie Ayer died in 1918 but the stone seems shiny and new. At first I thought that she may have been related to Fred Ayers – the man who built the (now) famously abandoned house in Estancia. However, his name is plural and her’s is singular and I couldn’t find any evidence to back up my theory.
A sign on the fence lists the names of 26 souls laid to rest in the Lucy Cemetery. The New Mexico Tombstone Transcription Project also has a list of the names and they’re easier to read.
Abandoned house near Lucy, New Mexico
I’m pretty sure this house is not actually in Lucy. It’s back down the road between the highway and the railroad tracks and definitely the best structure to be found on this trip. I love the dead trees and thicket of mesquite out front.
For more information about Lucy, New Mexico and to see some photos of the what remained of the structures in 2018, please check out the City Of Dust blog.