The Lower Mimbres

lower mimbres

Our Auto Tour of this area starts just east of US-180 (MP 0) and travels northeast on NM-61 past Faywood Hot Springs, City of Rocks State Park, and Faywood.  NM-61 bears north northwest up the Mimbres River Valley and travels past Royal John Mine Road and through Sherman and San Juan to its end at the at its junction with NM-152 just south of San Lorenzo.  A video of NM-61 can be viewed in our Roads of The Black Range video portfolio. 

Photographs of the area are contained in The Lower Mimbres Photo Gallery.


Faywood Hot Springs is located on NM-61, two miles east of the turn off of US-180 (which runs between Deming and Silver City in this area). 

Hot springs are attractors and there is ample evidence that this site was used by the Mimbres and the Apache before the arrival of the Europeans.  During the early 1800’s, Spaniards, Mexicans, and a variety of Americans (citizens, almost citizens, and Texans) also made use of the springs.

Faywood Hot Springs was a regular stop on the wagon road which traversed the southwest from the Franklin (El Paso) to points in Arizona and California.  In 1859 the springs were homesteaded by Kuhne and Watts, they were providing lodging and a bath house by 1861.  When stage service, both Catlett’s and Frazer’s, developed between Mesilla and Silver City (Pinos Altos) the hot springs were a regular stop, allowing time for the passengers to enjoy the hot water.

In 1899 the springs were reported to flow at 100 gpm at a temperature of 142 degrees.  In 1976 the flow rate was reported to have dropped by half and the temperature to have dropped to 137, see the Faywood Springs Report.  Temperatures in the bathing pools are regulated by the user.

In 1916, William Parker published his memories of being stationed at Ft. Cummings in 1867-8 (Annals of Old Fort Cummings).  On pages 18 & 19 he describes the hot springs like this (spelling as in the original):

  • “It is located on the trail about six miles west of the Miembres River.

    It issues from a mound which rises some fifty feet above the level plain; it is some twelve feet deep, and about the same in diameter, and looks very like the crater of an extinct volcano, although the mound may have been formed by the incrustations of lime deposited for ages from the water.

    Carbonic acid gas bubbles up continually from the bottom, and the more the bubbles, the hotter the water becomes.  The temperature when I visited it, was 127ᵒ fahr.  Nitrate of silver produced no precipitate; evaporation, no perceptible residue; and as the water was tasteless and gives no odor of sulphur, I concluded that it is of unusual purity, though not medical in any way.  I kept an egg in the crater all night, but it was still uncooked in the morning; the spring is, however, a little too hot for bathing and would scald anyone unfortunate enough to slip into it.  The hot and smoking streams trickle down from the mound through gaps in its side, one of which is conducted into a bath house.  This location belonged to Mr. Virgil Maston who lived here with his wife and daughter and two or three men.  Afterwards it was known as Hudson’s Spring.  The Apache Indians held this wonderful spring in superstitious veneration.  Men and animals who drank of this spring and lived by its mound were safe from Indian attack, but, I noted three of the heaviest rifles I have ever seen, too heavy to aim without a rest, and yet of only 36 or 38 calibre.”


In 1876, Mary and Richard Hudson purchased the springs.  Richard Hudson was one of the California Volunteers that came east to fight the Texans during the Civil War.  Following the war he decided to stay.  He was the first sheriff of Grant County and later served as a Probate Judge.  The Hudson’s set out to turn the site into a “hot springs resort”.  Their efforts ended in 1892 when a fire destroyed the facility.  (Photo from this period.)  A U.S. Post Office had been established at Hudson Hot Springs on January 28, 1879.

In 1894 Andrew Graham purchased the site and set out to develop the Hudson Hot Springs Sanitarium (the healing powers of hot springs were widely believed in at the time).  Apparently Albert Spalding (of baseball fame) encouraged Graham to make the facility bigger and better.  (Spalding’s baseball team actually used the site for spring training - for one year - apparently no one told them about the strong winds that sweep this area in the spring.)  A name change to Casa de Consuelo reflected the fact that it is reputed to be the first lodging establishment in New Mexico to provide hot and cold running water in its rooms.  By 1897 there was a permanent population of 35 at the site, a part time school, and occasional Methodist and Presbyterian church services.

faywood in 1900


Around 1900  (when the photograph above was taken) the property changed hands again when McDermott, Fay, and Lockwood purchased the property.  “Faywood” comes from the names of the latter two men.  During and immediately before World War I the hot springs were very popular with soldiers stationed at Camp Cody in Deming, and their visitors.  Following the war, the resort began to decline and the site passed through a number of owners.  Photo most likely from 1909.

The hot springs are againopen for business with separate facilities for those who prefer clothing and those who feel clothing is optional.  One of the first things you will notice from NM-61 are the 10 water towers which store about 35,000 gallons of water for use in the pools.  Visit their website at Faywood Hot Springs.



East of Faywood Hot Springs lies City of Rocks State Park (3.2 miles from US-180).  The State park has campsites and a short trail system.  There is a Botanical Garden and an Observatory.  The State Park is known for, and named for, a nice formation of rock with multiple pathways through the maze of columns.  

The Park is located in the northern part of Chihuahuan  Desert and has flora and fauna typical of the area.  It is located fairly far away from human light pollution so the night sky is brilliantly beautiful.  The full moon casts strong shadows during the night and during the new moon the Milky Way is overwhelming.  The darkness is so spectacular that the park has become a mecca for amateur astronomers, thus the observatory and campsites named after constellations.

The rock found here was originally laid down 34.9 million years ago when the Emory Caldera erupted.  Photographs of this site are included in the Low Mimbres Photo Gallery.


On May 1, 1851, John Russell Bartlett visited the site which became known as the Giant(s) of the Mimbres.  Bartlett was the United States Boundary Commissioner working on one of the many surveys of the border between the United States (Estados Unidos de Norteamérica) and Mexico (Estados Unidos Mexicanos).  In that position he traveled the southwest, pursuing his duties and his love of linguistics.  A complete description of the site by Bartlett and others is found at Giant of the Mimbres, on this site.



The Mimbres River Valley is east of the City of Rocks.  At MP 4.5 Taylor Mountain Road is on the right and at MP 8.2 Dwyer Road is on the right (see video).   Dwyer Road runs southward from this  point.  After a short distance it crosses the Rio Mimbres at a ford, sometimes the crossing is closed because of high water.  It intersects US-180 14.3 miles from NM-61.  The intersection “milepost” on US-180 is about 151.4.  A U. S. Post Office was established in Dwyer on February 5, 1895.  Cooke’s Peak dominates the skyline to the east at this point (photo below).


The small community of
Faywood is found where NM-61 first meets the river valley (MP10.6).  The 2010 United States Census indicated that Faywood had a population of 33.  

As you enter town, from the south, San Jose Catholic Church is on your left (west).  There is a cemetery immediately adjacent to the Church (mostly unnamed graves) and another cemetery up the hill (access via a road from the Church parking area).  Catholic cemeteries in the area are routinely more colorful than their Anglo counterparts, reflecting the Mexican origin of many of the families in this area.  A U.S. Post Office was established in Faywood on May 19, 1881.

At MP 13.7 the Y Bar Nan Ranch is on the east side of the road.  A famous Mimbres Culture Site is located on the ranch.


The Royal John Mine Road enters from the east at this point.  From this point to its end in the Gila National Forest is about 12 miles.  (See our video of this road.)  Immediately after turning off of NM-61 there is a bridge across the Mimbres River, the Gallinas Canyon wash enters from the north at this point).

About a hundred yards past the river there is a road to the north (left as you head east) which leads to La Esperanza Vineyard and Winery.  La Esperanza Vineyard and Winery, where wine grapes are grown, harvested, pressed, and bottled is always a worthwhile stop on any tour of the area. The video, Model T’s at La Esperanza Vineyard, describes a Model T club visit to the Vineyard/Winery.


The San Juan Teacherage is on the National Register of Historic Places (significant from 1900 to 1924) as is the George O. Perrault House (significant from 1875 to 1899).  The U.S. Post Office in Sherman was established on June 11, 1894.

SAN JUAN (MP 20.9)

The San Juan Cemetery is on the north end of San Juan, on the west side of NM-61.

The San Juan Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (significant from 1875-1899).  The Jesus Valencia House (significant from 1900 - 1924) is also on the Registry.

© Robert Barnes 2018