Hachita and Playas New Mexico

One day we took a ride into the boot heel of New Mexico. I had seen a TV documentary about the town of Playas so was interested to go see it. Along the way we drove through Hachita NM which currently has a population of 49 and was settled in 1875. The town is near the Little Hatchet Mountains so the name Hachita (spanish for little hatchet). In 1882 there were 300 residents, mostly miners who mined the nearby silver and copper mines. By 1890 there were only 25 people left because the mines ran out. In 1902 the El Paso and Southwestern railroad was laid so in the 1920s there were approximately 750 residents. The last train passed through town in 1961 and later the tracks were totally ripped up leaving behind the crumbling ghost town.

We continued on toward Playas, the only other people we saw were Border Patrol Agents…

We finally came to the town of Playas only to find a guard shack at the entrance to the town. We stopped to talk to the guard and found out that they were doing Special OPs maneuvers that day so we couldn’t go into the town. You can, with an appointment, get a tour of the place. Playas NM is a town bulit in 1971 by the Phelps-Dodge Corporation to support its nearby copper smelting operations. After 28 years the copper industry went bust and the smelting plant closed in 1999. The residents of Playas relocated because the town is so remote. In 2004 New Mexico Tech purchased Playas from Phelps-Dodge with a $5 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security to convert the town into the nation’s primary counter-terrorism training facility. Training includes first responder and hostage negotiation, urban warfare and simulated nuclear, chemical and biological attacks. There are 260 homes, an apartment complex, two churches, parks, a bank, bowling alley, restaurant and fitness room. Unfortunately I was only able to get pictures from pretty far away.

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