About 40 minutes south of Santa Fe are the oldest known mines in the US. Turquoise from the Cerrillos Hills has been found in artifacts dating back to 900 AD. Native American pottery glazes from the 1300's contain lead from this region. There was a flurry of mining activity for gold, silver, lead, coal and turquoise between 1880 and the turn of the century, but it did not last long.
In the mid sixties one of these old mining towns, Madrid (pronounced MADrid, emphasis on the first syllable) got a new lease on life when the owner of the town starting renting the broken-down shacks to bikers and artists for next to nothing. Over the years it shifted from being a hippie town of pot dealers and bikers into a vibrant, if quirky, artist community famous for its July 4th parade.
Walking down Madrid’s one street you find galleries, bikers, “new-age” oldsters, and families enjoying ice cream cones.
The most interesting artwork in Madrid was that of stone artist, Joshua Gannon. He is still mining the hills, gathering granite that he fashions into handsome and truly unique fountains.