Madrid, New Mexico
2832 Highway 14
Ghost town no more...on the way to Santa FeTo get from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, don't take I-25 North--it's busy and sterile. Drive east on I-40 to the backside of the Sandía Mountains, get off on exit 175, and head north on Highway 14, also known as "The Turquoise Trail." You'll wind through forest to plateau, through mining towns and old Spanish land grants.
Halfway to Santa Fe you'll come to Madrid. (Note--do NOT pronounce it the way you would the capital of Spain; here it's "MAD-rid.") In the early 20th-c., some four thousand people lived here; by WWII it had become a ghost town when the local coal demand dropped. By the 1970's the town began to be reoccupied--artists moved in, galleries set up...it claims to have more artists per capita than any other town in the country. (The population is around 400.) And in 2006, the town served as the set for the John Travolta film "Wild Hogs."
Driving in from the south, you'll note the brightly painted houses; just after the highway curves, find a place to park among the motorcycles and grab a coffee at Java Junction (they have a B&B upstairs)--their motto: "Bad Coffee sucks." The morning I stopped here, the café had a welcome sign in German; some Mercedes businessmen were having a road-trip meeting...Madrid is alive and well.