Located in the Keystone Mining District, LaBelle was once home to 600 or more people, most of them gold miners.  Historic records indicate that LaBelle’s post office operated from 1895-1901.  Additionally the town had stores, saloons, hotels, and a newspaper (the LaBelle Cresset, 1894-1898).  Some miners continued living and working in LaBelle as late as 1910.

Few people have heard of LaBelle, New Mexico, and it doesn’t appear in any of the usual “Ghost Town” reference books.  And it’s no wonder because there’s practically nothing left of the town.  The town doesn’t appear on any modern maps, there are no Forest Service signs, and few people explore beyond the nearest access road that is two miles away.  Even the name of LaBelle Creek has been changed.

The only hint at the true location of LaBelle is “LaBelle Lodge” that appears on some maps.  La Belle Lodge is much newer than the historic town.  Evidence indicates it was added on and remodeled perhaps as recently as the 1980s, but the original construction is older, 1950s or 1960s perhaps.

Studying the hand-drawn Keystone Mining District map carefully, it appears that LaBelle Lodge is near the center of town.  Scattered throughout the forest nearby are hundreds of mining shafts, small prospect pits, and evidence of placer mining in the valley bottoms.  One group of rocks not far from the Lodge is likely a chimney fall, marking the location of a historic house or cabin.

LaBelle Lodge sits on the same site as the historic town of LaBelle. The land-leveling for the lodge construction and the earth-moving for the pond likely destroyed a portion of whatever remained at the townsite.

Although the LaBelle Lodge is unlocked and I couldn’t resist, I don’t recommend entering.  The building has been heavily vandalized by shooters and most windows have been broken out.  As a result the building is filled with trash, animal feces, soggy-wet carpets, and other ‘stuff’.

The interior of LaBelle Lodge shows relatively modern remodeling including pvc pipes, drywall, and hollow-cardboard-type doors.

As unlikely as it seems, this marshy area may have been the near-center of town, the terminus of a stagecoach line, and the end of a telephone line.

Imagine a town of 600 with stores, hotels, and a post office located in this small valley.

The ruts between these two pine trees are a possible location of the 1895 stage coach line that ran from LaBelle to Catskill, New Mexico.

There may not be much to see at the townsite of LaBelle, but the spectacular scenery make the trip worthwhile.


Comments

LaBelle NM — 10 Comments

  1. Please tell me more about LaBelle or La Belle, Taos County, New Mexico? Great Pictures and its great to see these wonderful pictures and hear about its History!

    I am a Retired Archaeologist and a Missouri Historian, I have tried to Read everything that I can find on La Belle, Taos Co., N. M. —- You show and talk about the More Modern Building known as the La Belle Lodge, can you tell who owns it! And does the site of La Belle, N. M. sit on Government Land?
    Who can I contact if I want to drive to the Location of the Once Historic Ghost Town/Extinct townsite, I want to walk around these areas and see what I can See? So I don’t want to get in trouble or put in Jail?

    You mention the remains of an House or log Cabin foundation or Fireplace-Chimmey, did you take pictures of this also! Tell me did you see signs of anything Historic or not?

    One Last Word Here! Just Really Beautiful Pictures you posted and shared here! I am glad that I found your site here on the internet, it kind of paid off! Just amazing Pictures and Views of the surrounding Scenery is just amazing here!

    Thanks for your time and Take Care,
    yours Truly:
    Christopher Neal Cooper

  2. Hi Chris. I’m an ex-archaeologist as well, a past supervisor and crew member on many CRM surveys all around Arkansas and the Southwest.
    Yes, the town site is on public land. And to help you find it, the LaBelle Lodge is located on USGS and Forest Service maps. The nearest vehicle access to LaBelle is approximately two miles away. Something to be aware of before you set out, there are no services on the 80 mile drive from Raton to LaBelle. You may drive the entire distance without seeing other vehicles. And much of the drive is a gravel road that can be rough and is famous for giving flat tires. The area is also accessible from the west, a 70 mile drive from Taos via the small town of Costilla.
    No, other than the modern lodge, there is very little to see at the town site. The single rock pile, the suspected fireplace, was rather un-photogenic and I did not take a picture of it.
    -Bob Wick

    • Hello Bob Wick!
      Thanks for your reply, I am so grateful for your remarks and comments above! Wow it sounds so Interesting to me, but I don’t know about the Roads either! I will be driving a 2015 Ford Escape, different kind of wheels on it now days, but I am really scared to drive back to La Belle, I have always heard it called LaBelle too!

      Anyway sounds like one would need a Hummer, Jeep and etc. to get back there, but oh for years I have always wanted to see this area and the site of La Belle, its always been a interested of mine!

      Sounds like I will have to stick to Elizabethtown, in Colfax Co., N. M. instead! I wish I could find a way too see La Belle some way, my wife Faye she might not like us driving down these kinds of Roads! Sounds really scary to me! But I love those kinds of Roads too!

      I have another question, its not about La Belle, I was wondering if you know that there are any kind of Older maps, like the Keystone Mining district Map for “Elizabethtown, Colfax Co., N. M. Territory?

      But I also wanted to say that I had seen and found the Old Keystone Mining district Map was back in Feb. of this year, I accidently found and it was the most lucky thing too!

      I will email you with some of my personal information very soon!

      I thank you for you time and Again Take Care!
      Yours Truly,
      Chris Cooper

  3. The main road isn’t 4wd, but it is gravel and I did get a javolin-shaped rock through the E-rated F350 tire last year. Plenty of people drive up there in Subaru-type cars and even regular passenger sedans.
    No, sorry, I don’t have much information on Elizabethtown or the nearby site of Virginia City. Both of those are private property but Elizabethtown has a museum, cemetery, and is open to the public.
    Dawson is only 4 miles off the highway between Cimarron and Raton. The town is only open to the public on special occasions but the cemetery is always accessible.
    Stop at the Cold Beer Tavern near there too for historic photos and information on the ghost town of Colfax. The ruins are on private property but right next to the highway. You can get some photos without crossing the highway r-o-w fence.

    • Hello Bob!

      Thanks for your information above, so sorry I just seeing this now, I thought I needed to wonder over here to this page again tonight Now!

      Years ago around 2004 or 2005, I called that Museum at Elizabethtown, N. M. to see what they could tell me and what I could learn about their collection of material, at the same time I contacted the Court house in Raton, N. M. and got hold of County Clerk, he sent me the Plat map of Elizabethtown and I was just happy as a Big Fat Turkey not being served at Thanksgiving, I mean excited I was to receive that Plat Map, I wished I had another copy of it and might do that if I pass through Raton, N. M. and Anyway I learned from the person who was running Museum at Elizabethtown, yes they said a lot of property around the town was private and that there was one local man or family who thought they still had Riches & Gold under a old E-Town Log Cabin!

      I have heard of Dawson, before and have read something on the town too! I always thought about checking out Cimarron too, I have heard it was a hopping Town during the Old West days and Mining days of the Past!

      Thanks for your comments and wonderful information! I am really grateful that I have found you! I have a Archaeologist buddy of mine, who I work for every now and then with Research now days, I can’t do much of anything any more, and I am only 59 years old too! Anyway my former boss & buddy the Archaeologist has worked for years in Missouri & Central America, Belize & other Mayan sites surrounding, anyway I was getting ready to ask him if he knew any Archaeologist in New Mexico or Colorado or not!

      And then I found you, I believe that I was very lucky to find you Bob!

      I thank you for your time and the much Help from you Bob! I do appreciate the Suggestions too!

      Thank You and Take Care,
      Chris Cooper

  4. Thank you very much for posting the information and pictures of the La belle area. I have a cabin up Bittercreek Canyon where there are many old mines and cabins. I have often thought of hiking to la belle as it is only across Van Diest mnt, from my location. I am sure glad you posted pictures of the new building! I had visions in my head of the ‘la belle lodge’ being a arge 1800s building on a 1980s building. You saved me a whole days hike. thank you!

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