Mining in Red River, New Mexico began in the 1870s and a post office was established in 1895. In 1905 the mining slowed, and in 1931 serious mining efforts finally ended. By then tourism had replaced mining as the local economic base.
It is unknown, but doubtful, if any authentic mining-era structures remain in Red River in original condition. The buildings in town are primarily Western/Cowboy/Frontier-style tourist kitsch, condominiums and hotels, and modern commercial buildings and homes. Red River is not a “ghost town” by any definition.
But in the hills and canyons surrounding Red River, many remnants of the Red River Mining District can be seen.
Pioneer Canyon is sometimes marketed as a hiking trail. The trail is also popular with ATVs/ORVs and mountain bikes, and is accessible by practically any 4WD pickup or SUV, so hikers should beware of traffic. The Red River Chamber of Commerce distributes an interpretive guidebook that corresponds to numbered signposts through the canyon.
I don’t recommend entering any of the old mines, but obviously people sometimes do.
A collapsed mining building in Pioneer Canyon.
A trickle of water continues to flow from a mine supply pipe.
When you gotta go…
Hand-hewn timbers once framed this mine’s entrance before it was impacted by a collapse and erosion.
Although Pioneer Canyon is public land, it is partially covered by active private mining claims. The public can still access these areas, but removing minerals or rock samples from a claim is illegal.
Bitter Creek was the home of several major mines, minor prospects, and placer operations of local historic importance.
The Big Five (aka Oro Fino) Mine
Recent reclamation work has obliterated much of the Big Five’s tailings piles. The mine cabin and some equipment remain.
Located on public land and being relatively well-known, the historic sites of Bitter Creek are susceptible to vandalism and theft. Fortunately, the Bitter Creek cabin is relatively undisturbed.
Farther north up Bitter Creek is the Edison Mine and a portion of the Keystone Mining District.