History of the Black Range Mining District

    The Black range mining district is rich in western folklore and history. In the spring of 1881 in Hillsboro, the mining district was organized and named the Black Range. The term "Black Range" was adopted by the early explorers from the fact that these lofty mountains, when viewed from a distance, presented a very dark or "black" appearance due to the heavy growth of pinon and pine timber.  The Black Range camps of the Western Black Range Mining District consisted of Hillsboro, Kingston, Tierra Blanca and Lake Valley.   



    Even though the gold rush in this part of Sierra County only lasted approximately 20 years, the evidence of extensive finds can still be seen today.  Gold, silver and copper were the main ores extracted.  Major finds like the Ready Pay, Lady Franklin and The Golden King brought a swell of 4000 men, women and children to the population in the year 1882.  Silver mines like the famous Bridle Chamber in Lake Valley were discover, where silver ore was found just 40 feet from the surface.  It consisted of a hollow in the hillside, a room nicknamed the Bridle Chamber".  The cavern had walls of solid horn silver, the total silver removed was 2,500,000 ounces.  Before it was all scraped out, a spur from the railroad had been extended right into the Bridle Chamber and the rich ore was shoveled directly into the cars. A single piece of silver from the mine was displayed at the World Exposition held in Denver in 1882 and was valued at $7000.00 at a time when silver was selling for about $1.00 an ounce.  

    In 1884, the railroad came to the area and with it came the reputation of lawlessness as did most other western mining towns.  In 1883, Kingston was a hot bed for rustler activity.  Organized gangs of cattle thieves became so brazen that they even flaunted their identity to the ranchers they had robbed, as no re-course was possible, short of murder.

    During the height of the gold and silver rush, Apache chieftain, Victorio, was on the rampage.  No miner's cabin or settler's adobe were safe from murderous raids by Victorio, Loco and Nana.  By 1886 the raids subsided and the Apaches were chased down into Mexico.



    Today, the mining has diminished but the ranching community is still strong. There are still descendents of the original families that settled the area and still live and work in western Sierra county.  Big ranches like the Nunn,  ranches are still owned by the original families that settled in the area. 



    Become involved and join The Hillsboro Historical Society, beome a part of the rich history of Sierra County.

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PO Box 461

Hillsboro, NM  88042

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