Totally abandoned when its coal mine closed in the 1950s, Madrid (locals put the emphasis on the first syllable: mah-drid) has gradually been rebuilt and is now—to the dismay of some longtime locals—actually a bit trendy. The entire town was offered for sale for $250,000 back in the ’50s, but there were no takers. Finally, in the early 1970s, a few artists fleeing big cities settled in and began restoration.
Weathered houses and old company stores have been repaired and turned into boutiques and galleries, some of them selling high-quality furniture, paintings, and crafts. Big events here include Old Timers Days on July 4th weekend, the Madrid and Cerrillos Studio Tour in early October, and the Christmas open house, held weekends in December, when galleries and studios are open and the famous Madrid Christmas lights twinkle brightly.
As you continue south down NM 14 from Madrid, after about 11 miles you pass through the sleepy village of Golden, the site of the first gold rush (in 1825) west of the Mississippi. It has a rock shop and a mercantile store. The rustic adobe church and graveyard are popular with photographers.