Remains  of the mining operations at Rosedale still spread over the hillside


      The remains of an old mill launder (shown above), an adobe foundation, concrete mill ruins and other small walls are all that are left of Rosedale, New Mexico, in the foothills of the San Mateo mountains. It's a lonely place, and probably best left to ghost town diehards, or those who don't mind driving a long way to see very little.


  • COUNTY:  Socorro
  • LOCATION:  24 miles southwest of Magdalena
  • POST OFFICE:  1899-1928
  • NAME ORIGIN:  Named for Rose Richardson, whose husband assayed a piece of float Rose discovered and found it rich in gold
  • GNIS Info & Map

      At Rosedale, I learned a good lesson in empathizing with the past.  I was wandering around the site, taking pictures and swatting away some annoyingly aggressive flies. A trail led up the mountain to the top mill ruin, but I was impatient and decided I would jaunt up the gravel slope instead. The first ten feet went fine. Unfortunately, five feet from the top, I discovered there was nowhere else to get a foothold. I was stuck.

      I evaluated my situation. I had broken several ghost town "don'ts" - the trip was a last-minute decision and not on the agenda I had given out. Nobody knew where I was. I had only Cokes in the car. I had no rope or cellular phone. How embarassing. The headline would be something like "Ghost Town Homepage Author Fails to Follow His Own Advice and Dies on Gravel Cliff - Ha Ha, What a Loser!"

      And these flies! Argh!

      My options, as I saw them:

      Option One: I could let myself fall (face first) back down the ten feet I had come up. I would make it, but it would really hurt. My camera probably wouldn't survive. Did I mention that it would really hurt? Advantages: I would have some cool scars to talk about. Disadvantages: again, it would really hurt.

      Option Two: I could wait in this position until someone came to rescue me. Advantages: it wouldn't hurt as much. Disadvantages: nobody was expecting me until Monday, and I could only hold this position for maybe about an hour longer. Didn't seem practical.

      The flies were eating me alive! GET OFF ME!! Shoo!

      I was out of options. There was nothing else I could do. I was stuck, and nobody could help me. For the first time in my life, I felt really, really lonely.

      It occured to me then that this was probably how the people who lived in Rosedale, and in other mining camps, felt. Really lonely. The work was hard and dangerous. The dirt never completely washed out from under their fingernails. It's not suprising that almost every mining camp had a saloon. The residents needed a place to go to not feel so alone, or to at least to feel alone with others who felt the same way.

      The mines at Rosedale are largely forgotten today. But they had names like Baking Powder, Red Wave, Alabama and Amy B. Names that implied they meant something to somebody, an association also largely forgotten. At some point in 1928, somebody must have thought it significant, at least to their own life history, that they were the last person to mail a letter from the Rosedale post office. Who sent the letter? Who received it? One thing that makes a place like Rosedale so lonely is knowing that history is unmerciful in forgetting insignifcant details.

      Yet, perhaps that was history's greatest mercy. If we thought more about the past than we did the future, we'd be consigned to a life of perpetual "if only's." Melancholy can be painful, but it doesn't have to be terminal. Maybe that's how the Rosedale miners endured their loneliness. They thought less about the hardships they had endured and more about the dinner that awaited them that night, the kiss goodnight from their wife, the letter they were expecting from a friend back East.

      I decided to take my cue from them. I thought about eating a good meal that night, of telling my friends about the places I'd visited on this trip, of getting back the photos I'd taken of the trip. It changed my perspective. Suddenly, the little shrub above me looked suspicously like a hand-hold. I grabbed it. It stayed in place. With Herculean effort, I pulled myself up the next five feet, combining a slope-climbing gait with an erradic fly-shooing wave of the arms. About ten seconds later I was safely up the slope, my ankles sore and my lesson learned. And my loneliness gone.


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

Rose Richardson's town
is just a memory.
The slope where I
got stuck is the one
between the foundations.

The wooden stakes of the
mill launder remain in
remarkably good shape.

What's left of the mining
operation sit idly,
hoping to be used
again someday.