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Madrid, New Mexico

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Sometimes you have to take a trip for the pure fun of it - and so we did.

Madrid, New Mexico, with a population of 204 in the 2010 census has become an artists' community with galleries lining New Mexico State Road 14 (the Turquoise Trail). It retains remnants of its history with the Mineshaft Tavern and the Coal Mine Museum.

But for us, it was not the beauty and history of the town that created this trip. We had never been there, so we did not know how beautiful it was until we got there. It was the fact that one of my favorite actors, John Travolta and his band of crazies made a movie there. The ending of the film Wild Hogs was set and filmed in Madrid in 2007. The trip was well worth it - beauty, history, and nostalgia what else could you as for in one trip!

But since we are here, let me give you a little of Madrid history.

Lead mines in the area captured the interest of Roque Madrid in the 17th century. It is unclear whether the current name of the community comes from that of earlier residents or the capital of Spain. The dominant English pronunciation of the name differs from that of the Spanish capital, with emphasis on the first syllable: MAD-rid. Coal mining began in the area around 1835.

The coal deposits were called the Cerrillos Coal Bank following the arrival in early 1880 of the New Mexico & Southern Pacific Railroad (as the AT&SF in New Mexico was organized), named after the nearby mining and railroad town of Cerrillos Station. After a dozen years at the Coal Bank of wildcat, unpermitted, and unorganized mining the AT&SF acquired the property on December 10, 1891, and through purposefully-created subsidiaries solidified its control. The Cerrillos Coal & Iron Co. developed the layout for the town, mines, and facilities, and the Cerrillos Coal Railroad Co. built the 6.25-mile standard gauge spur from the AT&SF main line at Waldo Junction.

In late August 1892, the spur finally terminated at the relatively new mining camp of Keeseeville (an illegal trespass settlement, however one whose 20-acre plat had been approved by Santa Fe County). At the site of Keeseeville, which the Cerrillos Coal Railroad co-opted, the town of Madrid was built. More accurately the Cerrillos Coal Railroad transported-in, section by section, prefabricated wooden miner's cabins from as far away as Topeka, Kansas; there were insufficient carpenters and suppliers in the region to provide the instant infrastructure that was needed for the town.

Madrid celebrated its "founding" in 1895. Since the town was for the next 80 years wholly owned by a series of corporations, the town itself was never incorporated.

Madrid has had other literature/entertainment mentions beside my favorite "Wild Hogs".

Belinda Vasquez Garcia's novel, The Witch Narratives: Reincarnation (2012) is set in Madrid during the 1920s and 1930s when Madrid was a company-owned coal-mining town.

Madrid and details about the town's attractions are mentioned in chapter 15 of A.J. DeWall's novel, Forever Man (2014). In the opening scene of Breaking Bad (season 5) episode 14 ("Ozymandias"), Walter White takes a break after his first methamphetamine cook to phone his wife, Skyler, to suggest the family do something the show's creator (Vince Gilligan) says he and his girlfriend did: "head up to Turquoise Trail and stop at Tinkertown, maybe grab some lunch in Madrid".