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Tiffany Saloon and Melodrama, Los Cerrillos, New Mexico

September 3, 2010

Los Cerrillos, New Mexico

Los Cerrillos has always seemed to me to be the perfect example of a  New Mexico boom town. Once the unofficial  capitial of the state,  it’s now a modern day ghost town on South 14, a few miles north of Madrid.

Courtyard, Saint Joseph's Church

After the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1880,  shipping the gold, silver, lead, zinc and turquoise from the 3,000 miners in the area no longer had to be shipped by wagon. Los Cerrillos grew to feature 21 saloons, 5 brothels, 4 hotels, several dance halls and a real honest-to-goodness Opera House. The construction of Saint Joseph’s Church on Main Street confirmed that civilization had truly arrived.

Casa Grande Trading Post, Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum, & Petting Zoo

Today, the washboard streets and dusty storefronts are a mostly undisturbed  reminder of  Old West meets celluloid. 13 films have been shot in and around Los Cerrillos, including the 1972 John Wayne movie The Cowboys shot just outside of town. A remnant of the production of Young Guns lingers on a two-story stucco wall.  The real Wortley Hotel (Motto: No Guest Gunned Down in Over a 100 Years) is in Lincoln, not Los Cerrillos.

Los Cerrillos porch ceiling

On weekends, Mary’s Saloon and the Casa Grande Trading Post, Cerrillos Turqoise Mining Museum, & Petting Zoo swarm with tourists from the City Different stopping off on the Turquoise Trail. Several seasonal businesses open up with the return of the tourists, adding whimsical touches.

Several artists call Los Cerrillos home. Metal sculptures and eclectic murals are scattered though the tiny town. A few of the gritty, sandblasted storefronts now make it possible to walk under the stars as you stay out of the sun.

My connection with Los Cerrillos was very short-lived. My job working weekends  at the Tiffany Saloon and Melodrama ended when, as usual, my confidence in British mechanics was misplaced and my 1961 Morris Mini-Cooper needed a new engine.

The Tiffany Saloon and Melodrama burned down in 1977 but you can still find traces of it, and other long-lost buildings, by looking for the metal yellow signs all over town.

Karen Rivera 2010

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2010 2:35 am

    Very informative post. I must visit Los Cerrillos.

  2. March 15, 2010 9:52 pm

    How great to see our small town remembered and so well described. I agree with the comment from Jack, you must visit Cerrillos!
    Our Hacienda bed and breakfast is in the Ortiz mountains, looming over the village and gazing out at the entire Galisteo Basin. This is an amazing area and the village of Cerrillos is a treasure.
    You lived here, you know!

    Did you work with Kay while at the Theater way back when??? Most of the others have moved on but I see her now and then.

  3. September 29, 2010 2:36 am

    Could not find a way to contact you via any buttons on this page which is what I would have preferred. Please check Tiffany Saloon on eBay prior to Oct 05, 201018:57:44 PDT – Bit of Tiffany Saloon memorabilia is listed. – Letterpress block used for their menu and wine covers. – I’m hoping that someone who is/was associated with it or a historical society will get it so that is why I’m letting you know. – Thanks – Paul –

  4. June 11, 2012 6:18 pm

    Hello Karen:
    Several friends and I created the melodrama in the summer of 1966. I acted in the melodrama for two summers and wrote two one-act plays for the first season. One was entitled, “The Authentic Life and Death of Wild River Jack Johnson.” Later this month (June 2012) I will be posting a story about the melodrama and Hal West in my series, “A Search for America” at Stay Thirsty Media. I also lived briefly at the Palace Hotel when it was owned by Hank Salkeld. I understand it was destroyed by a fire started (inadvertently?) by a motor cycle gang staying there.
    Robert Wolf


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