No, not that Madrid (the one in Spain). This one is in New Mexico and it’s pronounced MAD-rid. Boomed on coal mining; busted when railroads switched to diesel. Became a ghost town. Then the hippies moved in. Then the artists. Now even some families. Current population: 225; down from multiple thousands. We tried to stop here a couple days ago, but the town was over capacity with the Fourth of July parade. Today we made it a destination.
The full sweep of New Mexico history is timelined in the New Mexico History Museum. From Ancestral Pueblans to pueblans to Spanish to Mexicans to Americans to the Atomic bomb – it’s all here. There was a nice section on the music of New Mexico (including Route 66 and some Western songs). I thought this would be represented in the gift shop, but, sadly, no.
We spent some time walking around Santa Fe and visiting the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. So it turns out I’m not a big fan of O’Keefe… or abstract… or abstract-ish paintings. There are over 240 art galleries in Santa Fe. Which is 240 more than I entered.
By coincidence we also visited Santa Fe six years ago over the Fourth of July. I took better pictures this trip.
The Tinkertown Museum in Sandia Park is one of the ten best small museums… they say. It was funky museum number two today on the Turquoise Trail. This privately held museum features the work of the late Ross Ward: hand carved and painted minatures in various dioramas.
We spent a non-traditional Fourth of July driving down the Turquoise Trail from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. We found a couple funky little museums along the way. First, the Casa Grande Trading Post, Petting Zoo & Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum. We were the only visitors that morning. It was a bit of a challenge to find it on the dirt roads of Cerillos, New Mexico.
We decided to not drive the freeways home over the extended July 4th holiday weekend. Instead we decided to stay in Santa Fe, New Mexico until after the holiday. So from Tucumcari we took the road less traveled, New Mexico state route 104 to Las Vegas, then to Pecos National Historical Park. (New Mexico also has a Las Vegas, but it’s much less crowded than Nevada’s.)
Another small town museum, the Tucumcari Historical Museum. Like many small town museums, it contains an eclectic mix of small town memorabilia. One recommendation to visit described it as going through someone’s attic. (A characterization I should not have used in front of the docent.) There was lots of stuff but minimal organization. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our stop there.
Wichita, Kansas is the Air Capital of the World. The claim seemed spurious until we visited the Kansas Aviation Museum. Tens of thousands of aircraft have been manufactured here; hundreds have been designed here.
Big things in a small town provided a place to walk around not far off the interstate. As their website proudly proclaims, Casey, Illinois hosts seven Guinness-certified “world’s largest” things. They have nine additional large things that are not big enough to be certified as “largest.”