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.
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’.