THE BACK WAY TO SANTA FE
Sometimes the best way to get from place to place is not the fastest way. If your travels take you to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, I suggest taking an alternate route between these two New Mexico cities.
This is the road less traveled, one of the lazy, easy ways to get there that too many of us ignore. This is called the Turquoise Trail and is the back-way from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. Besides just being a lot less stressful, the main attraction on the way is...the old mining town of ...Madrid. It's spelled the same but NOT pronounced the same as that place in Spain (mad-rid..not mah-dreed). And believe me, they'll call you on it. Madrid is kinda' like Arizona's old mining town of Jerome, except here they mined for coal.
"Turn of the century up through about 1950," says Steve Kalminson, who owns Maya Jones Store. "It was abandoned for 20 years and started to come back in the 70's as an arts and crafts center. The shops and development that you see on main street just kinda' came real gradually. Most people didn't come here with the intention of doing that."
Today Madrid is a touristy little place with a creaky ambiance and kinda' musty mood hanging over things. Some of the shops are knicky-knacky and others are truly places to find things worth while. No matter what the food is like it's always fun to tell folks back home you had lunch at the "No Pity Cafe." If you want to sit down with as hodge-podge a mix of people as you can imagine, the Mine Shaft Tavern is the place...Cliff Cato is the Owner.
"The tavern is world famous. In fact it's featured in one of the French magazines, tour magazines, as the place to stop when you do New Mexico."
As friendly as the owner was, however, his employees were decidedly unfriendly, and an unfortunate mood we detected in some parts of town seemed to be...spend your money and then leave. Even that, though is not reason enough to keep you from enjoying a few hours in Mad-rid, not Mah-dreed, New Mexico as you take the lazy, easy way from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. Madrid swirls lazily in an eddy on the river of time, a reminder of turn of the century mining towns and the holes they dug in the ground, a backwater repository of...stuff...from a page in our history. The Turquoise Trail ends in Santa Fe.
From Albuquerque the Turquoise Trail is State highway 14 and is reached by leaving town 16 miles east on Interstate 40 and getting off on the exit to Madrid. (mad-rid...not mah-dreed) It is easier to return to Albuquerque by going on north from Madrid to Santa Fe and catching I-25 back to Albuquerque. Just north of Madrid, stop at the little town of Cerillos.