- Posted by Jan
- On March 12, 2017
- 4 Comments
From March 1st to March 7th I stayed in the sleepy little town of Kingston, New Mexico.
Today Kingston is home to just 25 full time residents, but in 1890 it was a thriving metropolis of 7,000 people—more populated than even Albuquerque at that time. In 1882, Kingston was founded shortly after a large deposit of silver ore was discovered in the area by Jack Sheddon. It is strange for me to imagine that this small hamlet once boasted 23 saloons, 14 grocery stores, 3 newspapers, and an opera house. President Grover Cleveland, Mark Twain, Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid, Black Jack Ketchum, and Billy the Kid were all noteworthy visitors of Kingston.
In 1893 silver prices plummeted by almost 90 percent, and what was once a thriving city became a ghost town nearly overnight. Residents abandoned Kingston in droves, tearing down many of the town’s buildings to salvage the materials. To this day the Percha Bank building, which resides near the entrance of Kingston, is the town’s only fully intact and completely original structure.
I have cherished many of my stops across the American southwest, but my stay in Kingston at the Black Range Lodge stands out as my favorite so far. The lodge is run by owners Katherine and Gary. They have comped the last six days of my stay for free, and in exchange I have worked and helped out around the facilities. The grounds of the lodge are unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. They have embraced both a building technique and lifestyle known as “permaculture”. Using hay bales and clay, Katherine and Gary have constructed several buildings that are not only stunning in their appearance, but 75% more efficient in their energy consumption than buildings constructed with conventional materials and techniques.
One of the jobs I assisted Gary and Katherine with was moving a pool table they had recently purchased from a specialty store in Silver City, New Mexico. Mind you, this is no ordinary pool table. The story goes that this pool table’s original home was at the Riviera Palm Springs Resort, and its most frequent players were Dean Martin and other members of the Rat Pack. According to record, the last two people to have played on it were Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. Its unique backstory made the pool table a great addition to the lodge, however, at over 800 pounds, moving it was easier said than done. It took eight people, roughly a third of the entire town, to move it from the back of a trailer to inside the lobby.
I’d like to thank Katherine and Gary for a wonderful stay at the Black Range Lodge. My time there was both enjoyable and educational. Hopefully, I will get the chance to visit them again this summer.