Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Although not a ghost town (about 225 people live there, Hillsboro has a rich mining history. Hillsboro's history is traced back to a gold find, not silver as is the case for many of the old mining towns in Arizona and New Mexico. In ApRil 1877 gold was found along Percha Creek. Two prospectors working as partners discovered the site. Dan Dugan and Dave Stitzel were working the east side of Black Range, the Mimbres Mountains, when Stitzel ran across some float that Dugan thought worthless. Stitzel disagreed and proceeded to hide a few samples that he had assayed when they returned to town. When Dugan heard the assay ran $160 a ton, he couldn't wait to file a claim. The news spread and soon there was a community of miners and prospectors. The inhabitants seemingly could not agree on a name for the settlement. It was decided to put names into a hat and the first one drawn would be the name of the town. By the luck of the draw, Hillsboro came into existence.
Hillsboro was in the heart of Apache territory, but despite fierce Indian attacks, the town grew. The post office opened in 1879 and never closed, and Hillsboro became the county seat in 1884. It grew to about 1,200 people by 1907. Area mines produced about $6 million in gold and silver. A slowdown occurred, however, and Hillsboro lost the county seat to T or C in 1938. Hillsboro also had the last operating stage line in the U. S.

The remains of the old county courthouse, built in 1892, still stand. It was here that the three alleged killers of Col. Albert J. Fountain were tried for (and acquitted of) his 1896 murder.

The Union Church, an Episcopal church, built in 1892 is still in use today.

The General Store is now a small restaurant where we had a great hamburger and homemade fries. The milk shakes are pretty good too.

Hillsboro had its ups and downs. Fires, floods, influenza epidemics and ecnomic downturns took their toil. But it now is a small active community of artists, ranchers and retirees.

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