A Ghost Town and The Thing?

We love ghost towns so when I saw Stein's Railroad Ghost Town on the map (in New Mexico), we knew we would need to stop. In 1878, the Southern Pacific Railroad began to blast away at the rock bluffs of the area, developing a quarry and taking away tons of rock for a new railroad bed.

By 1880, the railway was completed and a station was built near what would become the town of Steins. It is estimated, at its high point in 1919, there were more than 1,000 residents. By this time, the town also had a boarding house, two bordellos, a dance hall, stores, saloons, and a hotel. But, for those early pioneers, life was tough in the desert region, as there was no source of water and it had to be brought into the area on the train, selling for as high as $1.00 per barrel.
For Steins, prosperity would be short lived. In 1925, the rock quarry closed putting dozens of men out of work, and at the end of World War II, the Southern Pacific Railroad discontinued its stop in Steins, giving the town notice that it would no longer deliver water and the station would be closed.
No water delivery spelled certain death for the town so the railway offered the residents free transportation to wherever they might like to go. The vast majority of its inhabitants took the offer, leaving many of their possessions behind. In time, the town was completely abandoned. The post office was discontinued in 1944. Twenty years later, a fire destroyed many of the historic deserted buildings.
It was a sad, little town whose "heyday" is so long gone. Ironically, the Southern Pacific locomotives go past daily, whistling away as a reminder of a more prominent time. What an interesting pause on I-10.
Before we pass a town, I look on tripadvisor.com for "Things to do". Believe it or not, for the town of Benson, #3 thing to do was The Thing? This is an Arizona roadside attraction hyped by many signs along Interstate 10 between El Paso, Texas, and Tucson, Arizona. These billboards entice travelers along this sparse stretch of desert highway to stop, just to find out what the mysterious Thing might be. The Thing? A Wonder of the Desert… The Thing? Mystery of Arizona …The Thing? Have You Seen It?… The Thing? Don't Miss It! It got us to stop!

I loved this description from Weirdus.com
Within a handful of sheds, you'll discover a farrago of unrelated crap—old cash registers, bear traps, and disturbing driftwood sculptures. Over there, something labeled "piece of mammoth's front leg." Up front, a Rolls Royce "believed to have been used by Adolph Hitler," though admittedly "it can't be proved." As implied by the big blue question mark in the attraction's logo, indeterminate credibility is part of the gimmick. Finally—past hand-carved figures both miniature and life-size, past gold-dust scales and cracked pottery—you see it. Encased in cinder blocks and guarded by what can only be described as Emperor Bigfoot Horsehead, lies the end to your anticipation. The mystifying…the remarkable…the unknowable…THING. What is it? Is it real? Where did it come from?

What makes the entire thing so dang cool to me is the fact that this exhibit was created in the 1950s in Southern California and placed here in the early 60s. It is so vintage and was worth the $1 entrance fee. It really is a "wonder".
Night found us camping in the Sonoran Desert. We arrived just in time to see the sun set behind the Saguaros. Tomorrow promises to be very interesting.

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Anonymous said...

I really like Steve's friend.

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