Even if you’ve never visited a ghost town, you’ve probably seen them from a highway off in the distance. In the U.S. some ghost towns are the result of natural disasters or man-made disasters. More often, a ghost town is what was left behind after a new highway is put in and the town’s economy just kind of dies. There are many, many towns that sprung up around railroad lines in the 1800s. When cars became the main mode of transportations, many of those railroad towns were left, literally, in the middle of nowhere.

Here are a few abandoned, deserted ghost towns that you could make a day-trip out of El Paso.

1.) Oro Grande, New Mexico

DISTANCE: 52 Miles from El Paso

ABOUT: Technically, Oro Grande still has a Post Office, a ZIP code and a population of about 50 people. It really SEEMS deserted, though. From the abandoned gas station that is littered with hypodermic needles to the ramshackle former My Place Bar, the entire town (about 250 yards along Highway 70 between El Paso and Alamogordo) has a real post-apocalypse vibe.

“Oro Grande” means “big gold” in Spanish and, indeed, it was gold mining that brought a population to the area. The town topped out with over 2,000 residents back in 1905.

POINT OF INTEREST: The Oro Grande National Forest sign that is next to the one and only tree as far as the eye can see.

2.) Cornudas, Texas

DISTANCE: 73 miles from El Paso

ABOUT: Cornudas is about halfway between El Paso and Carlsbad, NM on Route 62. There’s a diner next to the road but I can’t ever tell if it’s opened or closed.

POINT OF INTEREST: There’s an abandoned “attraction” that was built over 20 years ago. It’s a mock “Old West Town” that flopped and shut down shortly after opening. It’s interesting because it was built as a kind of “faux” Ghost Town. Now it’s just a regular Ghost Town.

3.) Lanark, New Mexico

DISTANCE: 30 miles from El Paso

ABOUT: Lanark is an example of a former railroad town. It was a fuel depot for Southern Pacific trains running between El Paso and Los Angeles. There are still a few buildings and facilities from over 100 years ago.

POINT OF INTEREST: Kilbourne Hole, a crater that was formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. There are still lots and lots of very unusual rocks called xenoliths strewn about. These are rocks from deep underground that were ejected, whole, when the eruption happened. These rocks are extremely rare because they come from much deeper than any human mining operation has ever reached. I’m not saying you can help yourself to some 80,000 year-old ejecta from the earth’s mantle but…I don’t think there’s anyone out there guarding the place.

Also, Kilbourne Hole is such a bizarre, unearthly landscape NASA actually trained Apollo astronauts there in the Sixties.

 

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