New Mexico has a number of ghost towns, but the “ghost town” of White Oaks in southern New Mexico is one of the few that still has quite a few people living it. Because of this fact in my opinion White Oaks really isn’t a ghost town, but still interesting to make a short visit to if passing through the Carrizozo area:
White Oaks sits at an elevation of 6,500 feet in an isolated mountain valley in New Mexico’s Lincoln County. It was founded as a mining camp in 1879 when gold was discovered in the surrounding hills:
The first place to stop when entering White Oaks would be at the Old Miner’s House that the town has set up as small museum:
Inside the various rooms in the home are setup to look how they did all those years ago back in White Oaks’ boom days:
The house also provided a pretty good history of White Oaks. According to the information posted in the Old Miner’s House the town quickly grew to a population of 2,500 people after the gold discovery. The town had a bank, a post office, 4 churches, and a school:
The gold discovery brought many investors from back Eat that brought their Victorian sensibilities back with them to White Oaks. The Hoyle House is a perfect example of this architecture:
Here is a closer look at the home:
Besides this boom town seeing investors from back East White Oaks saw more than its fair share of Lincoln County’s famous characters such Pat Garrett and William Bonney also known as Billy the Kid. One local story is that Billy the Kid and his men stole some horses and brought them to White Oaks to sell. However, the locals wanted nothing to do with the horse thieves and a shoot out occurred that led to the death of one Sheriff Deputy, but the Kid and his gang had to flee town and never came back.
Once the gold ran out and the railroad decided to bypass White Oaks this ensured the end of the town. The abandoned buildings were slowly torn down over the years for scrap leaving the few buildings that are still visible today. Like I said before there is still plenty of people living in White Oaks so it is not a true ghost town, but its variety of old buildings is well worth making a pit stop to check out if in the Carrizozo area.