The Cuervo Gold

Sign greeting visitors in Cuervo, November 2007
Sign greeting visitors in Cuervo, November 2007

In 1999, while traveling along Interstate 40 in New Mexico, I noticed an exit that harbored a small village called Cuervo nestled against a mesa to the south. I made a mental note to stop there the next time I was through, and did, in September 2000. The town appeared mostly deserted, so I prowled around a little and photographed some of the buildings that were verging on being ruins.

The next time we photographed Cuervo was with Abby on our first vacation together, The High Road, in July 2003. We managed to be there just as the sun was setting, and the light was really nice. We noticed, however, a few signs that said “Keep Out.” (In fact, while searching for information about Cuervo on the internet, more than one page talked about a feeling that they were “being watched,” and I felt the same way.) We didn’t venture onto the properties with those signs, but did photograph a couple of them from the road.

With lots of trips out west, we saw the town of Cuervo, which in our minds was a “ghost town,” out of the corners of our eyes as we passed it at highway speeds on our way west. On one of my trips out west, The Next Cairn, I decided to stop and see what had become of the town in the last few years. Sadly, I was greeted with a bright yellow sign on literally every property that declared, “POSTED Private Property. Hunting, fishing, trapping, or trespassing for any purpose is strictly forbidden. Violators will be prosecuted.

I don’t know if the few people of Cuervo got tired of tourists (like us, I guess) crawling around in their ruins, or if a lawyer told them to put up the signs to help protect them from liability, but I was sad to see this photographic gold mine become inaccessible. I am glad that I stopped and shot it when I did, and I will respect the signs and stay on the road to make pictures in the future.

Abandoned house, Cuervo, New Mexico, September 2000
Abandoned house, Cuervo, New Mexico, September 2000
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