DescriptionThe discovery of silver in the late 1860s led to the founding of appropriately named Silver City, while the establishment of Western New Mexico University in 1893—the same year the bottom dropped out of the silver market—ensured its continued existence. This was also the boyhood home of one William Bonney, who achieved notoriety at a young age as outlaw Billy the Kid.
Mining processes can be viewed from an open pit copper mine 15 miles east on SR 152. The huge pit, 1.7 miles across and 1,000 feet deep, has produced mountains of ore since the discovery of the deposits in 1800. One of the largest operations of its type in the United States, Chino Mine shows evidence of Spanish and Mexican workings. Chino Mines Co. provides an observation point and a picnic area.
Twelve miles south on SR 90, another vast open-pit mine yields some 50,000 tons of copper ore a day from the original site of Tyrone. Built in 1915 by Phelps-Dodge Corp. to house miners and their families, it was a beautifully designed city until declining markets caused the closure of the mine in 1921. Reactivation in the mid-1960s resulted in a new Tyrone 4.5 miles south of Silver City.
Silver City provides access to the 110-mile Trail of the Mountain Spirits, which leads to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument via US 180 and SRs 152, 35 and 15, then crosses the Pinos Altos Range back to Silver City. Contact the visitor center at Gila National Forest at (575) 536-9461.
InfoOfficeSilver City/Grant County Chamber of Commerce 500 18th St. SILVER CITY, NM 88061. Phone:(575)538-3785 or (800)548-9378
Self-guiding toursPocket guides describing walking tours of three historic neighborhoods—Capilla, Gospel Hill and the historic business district—can be purchased at the Silver City Museum.
Attraction PlaceHoldersSilver City Museum