Cooke’s Range is a Glimpse of Living History


Map of the area south of Cooke’s Range

Touring the west is a stimulating adventure of living history. When you visit Silver City, New Mexico a great day trip south of the Cooke’s Range will reward you well.  Before you go, you might want to order the book Butterfield Byways, from the Silver City Museum. It is online for pick up or delivery.  Also, pack up lunch before you head out of town for this historical adventure, just east of Silver City, New Mexico.

The area near to Cooke’s Peak is an historical area trekked by Apache, settlers, traders and military.  Apaches claimed this land as theirs and that interfered with the other’s prime target of conquering and settling the west.

South of the Cooke’s Range was a theater of movements of historical importance. Due to the push to remove the Apache from the area; frequent raids on settlers and traders occurred.  Over time the raids became a “tit for tat” between military maneuvers and Apache retaliation.  True West Magazine captures one such incident that happened just east of Cooke’s Peak, with a wagon train and the Apaches.

To get to this site, you travel on Highway 180 east to New Mexico Highway 26 and travel east (about 4 miles) to Green Leaf Mine Road (County Road A016).  From there you will enter this world of many pasts.


Surviving outbuilding near Fluorite Ridge.

One past was fluorite mining. Fluorite was considered a strategic mineral during World War II. On Fluorite Ridge you can see remnants of the mines, worked with Mexican labor for cents a day.   The Green Leaf Mine is prominent on the ridge. Both mine heads and outbuildings still exist on the ridge.  They can be carefully explored as you also search for purple and green fluorite.

Another part of New Mexico’s history can be seen, as you continue traveling on Green Leaf Mine Road. When you reach Pony Hills you can look east at Massacre Peak.  It was named for the frequent skirmishes trading and military personnel had with the Apache in the 1860s.  Looking at the hills one can see how the Natives could use the welded tuft hills for protection.  The ancient geology of the area indicates volcanic activity that caused the welding.  Also, if you are a rock hounding enthusiast, this area is of interest for collection.  Picture rhyolite and chalcedony dot the area as well as other melted or fused materials.

You can stop by the dam diversion and be on the Butterfield Trail.  If you head east on this trail you will see wagon ruts from the Butterfield stagecoach line that serviced the area.  For another part of history and the more adventurous; the journey can then head north into Frying Pan Canyon to see petroglyphs and other native artifacts left for observation into their world.