Location: Bland, Sandoval, New Mexico Territory, United States
An abandoned mining town. Two lost prospectors discovered gold in a canyon only 60 feet wide in 1894 and soon miners were filling the area. By 1900, 3,000 people lived in the canyon and the mill ran 24/7.
Bland had a post office from 1894 to 1935 and a newspaper "The Bland Herald"
"Ghost town a casualty of Las Conchas Fire: Fire destroys remnants of Bland, including historic hotel" by Nico Roesler The New Mexican, Posted on Jul 20, 2011 by Nico Roesler
In the late 1800s, Bland was a bustling mining camp in the Jemez Mountains northwest of Cochiti Pueblo. With a population of about 3,000 at its peak, Bland had a red-light district, more than a dozen saloons, two banks, a school, an opera house and four sawmills. After a couple of decades, however, the ore was mined out, and the town dwindled into a ghost town of mostly abandoned wooden buildings along what once was a single, main road along a canyon bottom. What remained of those structures, however, was reduced to piles of ash last month when the Las Conchas Fire burned through the canyon. The news was devastating to a few families who had lived in Bland part-time. Along with a few cabins, the historic Exchange Hotel and a dozen other structures, the remnants of an exciting gold rush had vanished. A gate on a private access road had kept the area 10 miles northwest of Cochiti Lake off-limits to the public. Three weeks ago, Alley Helmer of Albuquerque and others who had spent time in Bland were allowed to see the damage. All that remained were two picnic tables, a chicken coop and some trees. "Everything else is history," said Sandi Kadisak, who for 20 years lived part-time in Bland with her artist husband, Michael. An observance had been planned at Bland on July 31 to mark the birthday of Helen Blount, who had owned a deed to the historic Exchange Hotel before passing it on to her daughter, Helmer. Since Blount's death in 2005, Helmer annually opened the site to the public on that day. But the tradition is over. "It's just piles of 12-inch-deep ashes," Helmer said of the old hotel building. She was married in a courtyard near the hotel building in 1979. In 1994, she celebrated the centennial of the hotel's construction "with cake and everything." Although her mother was a New Mexico native, Helmer grew up in a turquoise-mining ghost town in Nevada. Her family would travel back to New Mexico to sell stones. They became friends with the previous owners of the hotel building in Bland, a mining engineer named Thomas Henry Jenks and his wife, Effie. Effie transferred the deed in the 1970s to Blount, who eventually retired to the mountain site, where she is now buried along with other members of her family. Helmer also planned to eventually move up to what she called a "beautiful, peaceful and quiet canyon," just as her mother had. "I had always planned to move up there, take my horses and my dogs and cats, and lock the gate behind me and never come down," said Helmer, 61. After the fire destroyed the buildings, however, she said U.S. Forest Service officials told her she may not be able to rebuild. Before it became known as Bland, the old mining hub was called Eagle Township. Prior to 1900, the town had been set to have elections and incorporate. According to Thomas Ball, a family friend of Blount, none of that happened, although patented mining claims still surround the town site. When the Santa Fe National Forest was created in the early 1900s, the federal government claimed the unincorporated land, leaving only the rights to the buildings in private hands. For many years, however, there was confusion about the extent of ownership rights, Ball said. Helmer said she has paid property taxes to Sandoval County since she inherited the hotel deed. While living part-time in Bland, Michael and Sandy Kadisak began raising their son, Cody, now 5. He loved the old buildings, his mother said. They took photos and lingered in the place where Blount had welcomed them as family. "The history of the place, of the southern Jemez, is just — poof — gone," Sandy Kadisak said. Terry McDermott, spokesman for the nearby Valles Caldera National Preserve, said Wednesday that Santa Fe National Forest officials have been in contact with Sandoval County to evaluate whether Bland Canyon will be inhabitable in the future. "Before we can say whether or not people can start rebuilding," McDermott said, "we have to evaluate the dangers associated with the aftermath of these fires."
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