Lordsburg, New Mexico

Hidalgo County Courthouse in Lordsburg
Hidalgo County Courthouse in Lordsburg

Lordsburg is another one of those towns that started as a whistle stop on a railroad line, in this case the Southern Pacific Railroad. The route of the Southern Pacific was made possible by the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. Prior to the railroad, the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach mail route ran nearby through the present-day ghost town of Shakespeare. Shakespeare was originally known as Mexican Springs, a year-round source of plentiful water. The National Mail and Transportation Company established a mail stop there and renamed the place Grant. Then William Ralston, founder of the Bank of California, bought the property and renamed it Ralston. He formed the New Mexico Mining Company and began mining silver ore close by. However, the claims he was working were poorly staked and improperly recorded. In the late 1870's, the Shakespeare Mining Company came in, bought the property, changed the name again and set about legally/properly mining at those local silver claims and several others nearby. Shakespeare was in business until the Stock Market collapsed in 1929 and the company went down the tubes. Today, the Shakespeare area is a private ranch, although the town site seems to be open to visitors (perhaps for a small fee).

A boost to the economy, if you will, of Lordsburg was that on-again-off-again discovery and mining of various minerals in the surrounding countryside. Being the closest railroad stop and section point, all ore shipments were brought to Lordsburg for loading on the train.

During World War II, there were up to 1,500 Japanese-Americans interned at the Lordsburg Internment Camp. Shortly after the facility was opened, a sentry at the camp allegedly shot and killed 2 critically ill internees under questionable circumstances. The military investigation found the sentry to have lawfully killed the two men but he was courtmartialed anyway. The internment camp was closed in July, 1943.

Lordsburg has been a favorite rest stop on US 70 and the I-10 for many years. The town is just over 600 miles from Los Angeles, a relatively easy day's drive. Because of that, a large sector of the town's economy has revolved around lodging and food services. It also helped that in the 1950's and 1960's, as legal segregation was coming to an end, Lordsburg had one of the few motels in the Southwest that would accept African-American guests.

Lordsburg is located at the northern end of the Pyramid Mountains. The mountains actually forced the railroad (and the builders of Interstate 10) to make a dogleg detour to the north around them. That mountainous skyline is a prominent view from everywhere in town.

The population of Lordsburg is down almost 20% since 2000.

Fast Facts about Lordsburg, New Mexico
Lordsburg, Hidalgo County, NM 88045
Latitude: 32.3469°N
Longitude: 108.7071°W
Founded: 1880
Elevation: 4,250'

High School or Higher: 62.7%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 6.2%
Graduate or Professional Degree: 2.2%
Cost of Living Index for Lordsburg: 79.8

2014 Estimates:
Median Household Income: $35,670
Median Home Value: $92,370
Median Resident Age: 33.1 Years
Major Industries:
Lodging & Food Services, Construction, Government, Health Care, Natural Resources, Educational Services, Transportation Services, Waste Management Services, Agriculture
Unemployed (August 2014): 6.0%
Population Demographics: 2010
Total Population 2,797
Males 1,407
Females 1,390
Population by Age
Under 18 767
18 & over 2,030
20-24 177
25-34 293
35-49 522
50-64 492
65 & over 456
Population by Ethnicity
Hispanic or Latino 2,161
Non Hispanic or Latino 636
Population by Race
White 2,345
African-American 23
Asian 15
Native American 23
Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 0
Other 348
Two or more 43