•  Some history of Playas, New Mexico, southwest United States

Playas was once located in the Playas Valley west of Hachita, New Mexico, southwest United States. It served as a siding for the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad. Built in 1902, the same year as was the Railroad opened to traffic by its owner, Phelps Dodge Corporation.

The name Playas comes from the Spanish word "playa", meaning "beaches". This refers the "dry lake bed", or Playas Lake, a low, flat sandy area about 10 miles south, an area almost always dry, except during rare rain storms. (The "Lake" is a site for land sailing today in windy months, especially in March and April).

Playas Valley is bordered westerly by Animas Mountain and easterly by the Little Hatchet Mountains. This area is dotted by abandoned mine sites that in the late 1880's produced turquoise, silver, and other valuable ores.

Playas Siding was selected by the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad (EP&SW) for its ample water supply. It was a convenient location to refuel engines running between Hachita and Animas. Also, there was freight traffic here from ranchers raising cattle on the grasslands of the Valley who used it to ship cattle to market.

There was a Post Office in Playas from 1913 to 1918. Now (2003) not much remains of Playas Siding except some cattle pens and stockyards. The EP&SW railroad ceased operation on December 20, 1961. Rails and ties were torn up and railroad properties sold to salvage companies.

Phelps Dodge Corporation decided to build a copper smelter south of the old Playas Siding location on Playas Lake, in what was a remote desert area in the 1980's. A new company town was built for use by employees working at the new smelter. This town was named "Playas", but it's not related to the original ghost town of "Playas Siding".

But in 2000, the smelter was closed and employees were ordered to move out of Playas by June 1, 2000. Phelps Dodge Corporations' town of Playas is now (2003) boarded up and appears to be a ghost town--except it's carefully maintained by corporation employees.
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