During the 1890’s, Red River was one of four mining towns in the area, the others being Amizette and Twining on the upper Rio Hondo; Elizabethtown in the Moreno Valley; and La Belle on Comanche Creek. Thanks to the “get rich quick” fever that was spreading across the country, miners began to flood in and carve into the mountain and the population in Red River skyrocketed to around 3,000 residents by 1900.
The mines in Red River, NM were located in Bitter Creek, Goose Creek, Pioneer, Mallette, and upper Red River Canyons.
Located off of Pioneer Road there is a road built by miners at the end of the 19th century, which is now Forest Road 484. This road follows Pioneer Creek and will take you past the ruins of many old mines.
Pioneer Canyon Mines
- Lily Smith
Located at the start of Goose Lake Road, what is currently Forest Road 486 follows eight miles on a road that was built by miners in the late 18th century. This road passes the ruins of many old mines and runs along Placer Creek.
Placer Creek Mines
- Jay Hawk
- Golden Calf
- Golden Treasure
- Nashville Claim
- Bunker Hill
There are several mines that can be accessed by hiking along the Bitter Creek south of the Midnight Mine, which is a breeze for those folks staying in Cabin by the Creek. To access the Bitter Creek area, take Cabresto Road, Forest Road 134, from Questa to the Midnight Mine.
Bitter Creek Mines
- June Bug
- Oro Fino
Eventually, the mines started to dry up and the miners moved on to their next destination. Founded in 1895, Red River was the last of the four gold camps to be established and is the only one to survive. But just because the miners decided to pack up their equipment, folks still get lucky from time to time while panning for gold. So go ahead and grab a *pan because you never know, there might still be gold in them thar mountains.
*Recreational gold panning may be allowed without special authorization provided that disturbance to riverbank vegetation, fish and wildlife does not exceed cause use and only reasonable amounts are collected for non-commercial purposes. Please use caution as old mine workings may be extremely dangerous. If you have any questions as to where and when gold panning is allowed, please contact the Questa Ranger District of Carson National Forest at (575) 586-0520.
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