A Morning in Madrid, New Mexico

pattern stories
Written by:
Ed Domain

Old Boarding House and Mercantile: Open for Business

Like everything in New Mexico, the town of Madrid has history. Located on the Turquoise Trail connecting Santa Fe and Albuquerque, cultures have been clashing and blending in the region for centuries, and evidence of it is everywhere.

I had the highway to myself almost the entire way. (Look hard for two cars in the distance)

I had heard about the Turquoise Trail and the old towns along the way, and decided to spend a morning checking out Madrid.

Madrid has been inhabited a long time. A really long time.

First inhabited by Native Americans mining Turquoise and other minerals, it was originally ignored by the Spanish colonizers, until they realized the whole region sat on top of high quality lead, and later, gold and coal.

Home Office of artist Michael Autstin Wright

In fact, there is so much history in Madrid, I could probably write a research paper on it, but I wanted to see, and feel, what Madrid is like today… and New Mexico, I have to be honest with you: I screwed up.

If you’ll recall, I am still brand new in New Mexico. Thanks to the pandemic, I have spent a lot of time inside, and so I have been getting to know my new home a little slower than I expected.

When I looked at Google Maps, I thought, “Eh, Madrid looks small. I’ll drive up for a morning, and be back for a Zoom call I need to be on at noon.”

Those of you who are native New Mexicans are probably laughing at me, as you should, because while Madrid might be small geographically, it is amazing. It’s so amazing, and so rich in culture, people and history, that I met some locals who invited me to come back and experience Madrid the right way.

Trading Bird

I met a fascinating artist who owns her own Turquoise mine, and uses the turquoise to make beautiful jewelry and other artwork. I went into another gallery, where amazing sculpture pieces were on display, and a great coffee house with a friendly neighborhood vibe.

The problem is, I didn’t allow myself enough time to really explore, and get to know the town the way it deserves.

A local artisan hand drawing tiles with blue ink to replace some lost tiles, and it looks amazing

Like I said, New Mexico, I screwed up. At least I didn’t put my hand in a cactus this time.

Now that I’ve admitted it, I can’t in good conscience try to sell you a half-baked story about Madrid that does it justice, so here is the new plan: I am going to go back to Madrid, and the other towns along the Turquoise trail, and I’m going to start bringing you stories from them.

These are some of the original tiles the artist is trying to copy in ink

Not a big, long, “Here is everything about Madrid,” article, because that wouldn’t do this wonderful town, or it’s people, justice. It was very clear to me the citizens of Madrid care about their town, and they care about each other.

I’m going to go into detail about different people and places in the town, and share with you what makes it so unique and wonderful.

Locals looking out for each other through acts of kindness (at the Java Junction)

What once was a coal mining town has turned into something truly special for artists, bikers, hikers, writers, and anyone with an adventurous soul. If you want to get off the main grid and out of the rat race, Madrid is calling. It’s definitely calling me- I can’t wait to get back there. 

Everyone is a friend at the Java Junction

Madrid is a place where everywhere you look, you smile. People smile back, wave at you, and are happy to see people interested in, and respectful of, their very special place in this very special state.

The next time I bring you a story from Madrid, I’ll focus on a person or place that makes it special, and we’ll spend some time together exploring yet another location that truly makes New Mexico The Land of Enchantment.

Inside the Jill Shwaiko Gallery

I keep telling my friends in other states, “New Mexico is a hidden secret. It is so full of beauty, friendly people, good food, and life, I can’t believe the state isn’t overrun with 10 million people, as opposed to our little corner of the world with just over two million souls statewide.”

Until next time then, New Mexico, please enjoy these photos I took, and a very quick video that doesn’t do the town justice, but I’ll be back to do it right. Real soon.

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