madrid new mexico

it’s a mad, mad mad-rid world!

by jani on July 23, 2012

HB and I just had to check out what was described to us as the “last hippie holdout in America”, the funky little town of Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid), New Mexico. Funky is pretty much an understatement. Actually no one told us prior to driving the 28 miles southeast of Santa Fe, that everything closed up at 5pm each day! What time did we arrive? About five! It still provided some fun photos and imaginings. There were dogs…  lots of them… everywhere!

The owners actually opened this store for us, as a neighboring owner began knocking on their door. They were headed off to a town meeting –  somewhere. I still don’t know the name of this shop, but you can’t miss it by its bright colors! This shop has beautifully designed jewelry from all over the world, bright colored stones in every color. If only we had more time, I’m sure I would have found some fun pieces… but alas, the meeting…  they had to close up.

From what we’ve learned, Madrid was once a very hustling and bustling coal town, sending the coal by train just a few miles to the town of Cerrillos where silver was smelted for use during WWII. After the war, Madrid became a ghost town with just the shells of the old miner cabins left behind. Some of today’s residents still keep these old shacks in the state they found them, as you can see from the following photo.

This next photo was a pretty good description due to the after 5pm arrival!.

In the 1970s artists and craftsmen moved in and it has become a distinctive artist’s colony – population maybe 300. Maybe.

There was a white cloth hanging in this permanent fixture (note the flat tire) which reads, “Mother Love”. I’m not sure why.

We looked around and except for the barking of dogs saw no one else on the three blocks of the main drag. Then we heard music; the closer we got, we heard people laughing and to our surprise we found the local hang out, The Hollar. I asked the man with the 10-gallon cowboy hat if everything always closed so early. His reply, ” Oh yeah. It’s been a long day!” I asked how early they opened, expecting to hear 7 or 8 in the morning. No… “We open at eleven and close at five everyday, and that’s a looooong day!” Alright, this is definitely a unique place.

You can see “Mr. 10-Gallon Hat” in the background. But the character in front with the sunglasses and blonde/grey mustache and the rat on his lap was a kick! We asked what kind of dog it was. He replied, “Ah, he’s between a skunk and a toilet brush!” Yep, this is one funny town.

Emmy had a great time playing with the skunk/toilet brush and proceeded to get all kinds of filthy! We had to stop at Petsmart in Santa Fe to get her bathed. After playing on this dirty floor her beautiful white collar was not white!

HB grew up eating fried green tomatoes and just had to order them off the menu. I took a tiny bite; it was tough getting over the dirt, grunge and cigarette butts. But we did have a quite colorful conversation with some of the locals.

This was shot at the beginning of Emmy’s dirt bath just before her playtime with the skunk/toilet brush… such a gross description.. but it really fit.


Madrid, New Mexico is too cool to miss. It’s on the Old Turquoise Trail  (SR 14) driving south toward Albuquerque half way from Santa Fe. Even with all the stores closed it was worth the trip!