Silver City, New Mexico

Silver City, New Mexico

Infobox Settlement
official_name = The Town/City of Silver City, New Mexico
settlement_type = Town
nickname =
motto =

imagesize = 250px
image_caption =


mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Location in the State of New Mexico

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_name1 = New Mexico
subdivision_name2 = Grant
government_type =
leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = James R. Marshall
established_title = Founded
established_date = 1878
area_magnitude = 1 E7
area_total_sq_mi = 10.1
area_total_km2 = 26.3
area_land_sq_mi = 10.1
area_land_km2 = 26.3
area_water_sq_mi = 0.0
area_water_km2 = 0.0
population_as_of = 2000
population_total = 10545
population_metro =
population_density_km2 = 401.5
population_density_sq_mi = 1040.1
timezone = MST
utc_offset = -7
timezone_DST = MDT
utc_offset_DST = -6
latd = 32 |latm = 46 |lats = 41 |latNS = N
longd = 108 |longm = 16 |longs = 27 |longEW = W
elevation_m = 1797
elevation_ft = 5895
postal_code_type = ZIP codes
postal_code = 88061-88062
area_code = 575
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 35-73260
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0920706
footnotes =
website =

Silver City is a town in Grant County, New Mexico, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the town population was 10,545. It is the county seat of Grant CountyGR|6. The city is the home of Western New Mexico University.


The site of Silver City was originally known as San Vicente de la Ciénega (St. Vincent of the Marsh), and prior to Anglo settlement, the valley served as an Apache campsite. With the arrival of a wave of American prospectors in the 1860s, however, the face of the valley soon changed.

Silver City was founded in the summer of 1870, shortly after the discovery of silver ore deposits by Captain John M. Bullard at Chloride Flats, located on the hill just west of the farm of Captain Bullard and his brother James. Following the silver strike, Captain Bullard laid out the streets of the new Silver City on the former farm, and a bustling tent city quickly sprang to life. Although the trajectory of Silver City's development was to be different from the hundreds of other mining boom towns established during the same period, Captain Bullard himself never lived to see even the beginnings of permanence, as he was killed in a confrontation with Apache raiders less than a year later, on February 23, 1871.

The towns violent crime rate was substantial during the 1870s, Grant County Sheriff Harvey Whitehill was elected in 1874, and gained a sizable reputation for his abilities at controlling trouble. In 1875, Whitehill became the first lawman to arrest Billy the Kid, known at the time as William Bonney. Whitehill arrested him twice, both times for theft in Silver City, and would later claim that Bonney was a likeable kid, whose stealing was a result more of necessity than criminality. In 1878 the town hired its first town marshal, "Dangerous Dan" Tucker, who had been working as a deputy for Whitehill since 1875. Tucker killed several men during his rein as marshal, and is one of twelve gunmen included in the book "Deadly Dozen" by author Robert K. DeArment, who proclaims Tucker as one of the most underrated gunmen of the Old West. He was also the subject of the biography "Dangerous Dan" Tucker, New Mexoco's Deadly Lawman", by author Bob Alexander.

Mrs. Lettie B. Morrill, in a talk given to the Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in Silver City on September 19, 1908, stated, "John Bullard was placed in the first grave dug in Silver City, having been killed while punishing the Indians for an attack upon the new town; the brothers were Prospectors about the country for many years. The last one left for the old home about 1885, saying, ‘It is only a matter of time until the Indians get me if I stay here.’" It was also known as the starting point for many expeditions hunting treasures such as the Lost Adams Diggings. [] Old mines, camps, and shacks dot the hills, and it is rich in [ Old West History] .

In 1893 the Normal School was established. It later was renamed to Western New Mexico University in 1963. Today, WNMU offers 8 graduate degrees, 41 baccalaureate degrees, and 18 associate degree and certificate programs. The WNMU athletic team is referred to as the Mustangs. Recognition for the university includes the 2003 Zia Award, the 2005 Best Practice Award (for the School of Education), the 2006 Chamber of Commerce Large Business of the Year Award, the 2008 Pinon Award, and the 2008 Companero Award.


The local geology of the Silver City area is complex. Sedimentary gravels are found in the form of alluvial gravels called the Mangus Valley gravels. Metamorphic schist and gniess is also found. The downtown area is mostly comprised of granite outcrops.Silver City lies just east of the continental divide.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 10,545 people, 4,227 households, and 2,730 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,040.1 people per square mile (401.5/km²). There were 4,757 housing units at an average density of 469.2/sq mi (181.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 71.72% White, 0.86% African American, 1.14% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 22.42% from other races, and 3.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 52.43% of the population.

There were 4,227 households out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 15.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.4% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the town the population was spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.7 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $25,881, and the median income for a family was $31,374. Males had a median income of $28,476 versus $18,434 for females. The per capita income for the town was $13,813. About 17.7% of families and 21.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.2% of those under age 18 and 10.0% of those age 65 or over.

Economy and Culture

Silver City was founded as a mining town, and the nearby mining operations of Phelps Dodge are still the basis for the local economy. In 2006, the Chino and Tyrone mines produced 125,400 tons of copper. Mine employment was 1250, with wages and salaries totaling $73 million. However, a Phelps-Dodge spokesman recently remarked that "based on current economic projections, our properties in New Mexico will not be operating in 25 years" [New Mexico Business Journal, 9-07, p. 31 ] . Phelps-Dodge was acquired by international mining firm Freeport-McMoRan in March, 2007, and operations at the Chino and Tyrone operations are continuing under the Freeport name.

Despite its small population, the town prides itself on its ability to bring in high quality cultural offerings, including the Grant County Community Concert Association, which presents numerous events each year [ [ Grant County Community Concert Association, another outstanding Chamber member and business in Silver City, NM! ] ] .

Tourism, retirement and trade are the other major components of Silver City's economy. In 2006, an average home sold for about $160,000, for a three-bedroom, 1,500 sq. ft. house [New Mexico Business Journal, 9-07, p. 33 ] .


*Grant County Airport, located 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Silver City.

Major highways
*U.S. Route 180
*New Mexico State Road 90

Notable inhabitants

*Henry McCarty ("Billy the Kid")
*The composer James Tenney (1934-2006) was born in Silver City.
*Norman Packard, physicistBass, Thomas A., "The Predictors", 1999, Henry Holt Publishing, p. 54]
*Doyne Famer, physicist
*Harrison Schmitt, astronaut
*Phillip Parotti, fiction writer and educator
*Jeff Bingaman, Senator of New Mexico, grew up in Silver City.
*Felipe de Ortego y Gasca, Chicano Literary Historian Fact|date = September 2008Paul Benedict, "Harry Bentley" on "The Jeffersons"Fact|date = September 2008


External links

* [ Town of Silver City official website]
* [ Silver City & Grant County Chamber of Commerce]
* [ Silver City on New Mexico Dept. of Tourism website]
* [] Cycling Race Hosted In Silver City

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