Winter twilight turns the world blue at Ancho


     I went to visit Ancho, but nobody was home. I was the only one around to enjoy the twilight sky, the scattered spots of snow turned blue in the refracted light, the wide yellow valley stretching out for miles. Just me, the old buildings, and the blue snow. It was 5:15 p.m.


  • COUNTY:  Lincoln
  • LOCATION:  21 miles north of Carrizozo 
  • POST OFFICE:  1902-1969
  • NAME ORIGIN:  Named for Ancho (Wide) Valley in which the town lies
  • RATING: Three ghostsThree ghosts
  • GNIS Info & Map

      Ancho is also the home of "My House of Old Things," a museum of knicknacks, bric-a-bracks, odds, ends, and collectibles, gathered under one roof. (Museums in ghost towns seem redundant somehow.) The museum was closed when I went, unfortunately, though in a way I was relieved. Museums creep me out. I think of them as "time prisons" -- a place where time is captured and held hostage. Like Native American "Dream Catchers," museums are "Time Catchers." Once an item is caught and given an accession number, it can never again be set free.

      I used to work in a museum. A huge clock on the wall ticked away the long afternoon hours that nobody came in to visit. After sitting at the reception desk all afternoon, bored to death, I could tell I had aged. But when I went to check on the exhibit, nothing else had.  The display items, old to begin with, had no need to get older. Age had no relevance anymore. Even if I left the front door wide open, Time flowed around the museum walls, never through. When I left the job in the evening, I was always careful to lock the doors behind me, as any good jailer would.

     I remembered my museum job as I drove around Ancho. A strangely quiet Southern Pacific locomotive idled past as the sun set behind the buildings. (You can insert your own additional time metaphors here as well.) Then it struck me: what if Ancho is where time is kept?  What if time has mass, or produces by-products that need to be stored somewhere? What if Ancho functions as a Time WIPP? What if inside these old abandoned houses were Jesse James and Ghandi, Leonardo daVinci and Amelia Earhart, the War of the Roses, one giant leap for mankind, the Titanic, Pearl Harbor?  Or their shadows?

     What better place to store Time than Ancho?  The school closed in 1954, the highway bypassed the town in 1955 and the train cancelled stops in 1959. With everybody looking the other way, Time could do as it pleased here, uninterrupted. No need to lock the doors at night. If everything escaped, there was nowhere to go.

      I drove around a bit more, sure that every shadow I saw around every corner was Veronique's hemline, Socrates' cup or Floyd Collins' lantern. I left when the sun finally went down behind the valley and the snow was no longer blue.

      It was 5:15.


(click on the thumbnail image to see a larger picture)

The Ancho schoolhouse
is wrapped in blue twilight.