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On Walkabout In: Los Cerrillos, New Mexico

I nice little half day trip while staying in the Santa Fe area is to go and check out the historic village of Los Cerrillos

This small village of about 200 people is located 25 miles to the southeast of Santa Fe and tucked into a river valley along the slopes of the Ortiz Mountains. To reach this old mining village you have to first drive across the arid high desert.  My wife and I decided to take one of the back roads instead of the more frequently used Highway 14 from Santa Fe to reach the town.  As we crossed the high desert we could see Sandia Peak that rises above Albuquerque to the south:

Before long though we exited the flat high desert and traversed through the Ortiz Mountains to reach Los Cerrillos:

The mineral wealth of these mountains has long been known to those who have lived in the area.  The first people to take advantage of this mineral wealth were the Pueblo Indians who mined for turquoise in these mountains.  After the arrival of the Spanish in the 17th century, the Pueblo Indians were forced to work in silver mines.  This forced labor contributed to the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 that expelled the Spanish colonist from the area.  The Spanish however returned in 1692 and continued to mine for silver in these mountains.  In 1879 when the United States controlled these hills, gold was discovered and Los Cerrillos was founded.  Eventually other minerals would be discovered as well in these “little hills” which is the namesake of Los Cerrillos.  At it’s heyday in the 1880’s Los Cerrillos supported 21 saloons, five brothels, and four hotels.  The city’s mining past is well behind it, but Los Cerrillos continues on today as a sleepy little artist community:

The downtown area of the town has a number of shops and art galleries, but the size of the local St. Joseph church dominates the downtown area:

This church was built in 1922, long after Los Cerrillos heyday.  Since its opening the church continues to offer Sunday services, even to this day.  Down the road from the church the many historic buildings that now house a number of shops and galleries, came into view:

Besides attracting visitors with its rowdy past and artist’s studios, the city has also served as the set for 13 Hollywood movies to include Young Guns 1 and Young Guns 2:

The views of downtown Los Cerrillos are easily recognizalbe to those who have watched the Young Guns movies:

As you can imagine with a village of only 200 people ultimately there isn’t much to see, but the village is still a good half day trip to take in the scenery of the Ortiz Mountains and enjoy the shops and galleries of Los Cerrillos’ historic downtown area. 

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