Researching and photographing New Mexico’s ghost towns and settlements is the subject of the next Culture Series presentation at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.
The Culture Series, organized and presented by the Friends of the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, is at 7 p.m. on April 13 in the Museum’s Theater. Admission is free.
The title for this presentation is: Abandoned History: Uncovering The Stories of New Mexico’s Settlements & Ghost Towns. Presenters Bridget Harrington and Michael Moore are Albuquerque-based photographers and documentary historians working together as Enchanted Byways Photography.
They will talk about their process of researching these sites, everything from using Google Earth to find the settlements to substantiating details using a variety of resources. Harrington and Moore will provide snapshots of four southern New Mexico communities and the stories left behind.
Both lifelong photographers who don’t make their primary living from photography, Harrington is a graphic artist and marketing communications specialist and Moore is an engineer, small engine pilot, and son of a National Geographic photographer. They met on a web group for New Mexico photographers and quickly learned that they have a joint passion for not only photography and the state of New Mexico, but also for history and socio-cultural mysteries. What started as a project to see the state grew into a quest to create compelling images of little-known places and share the buried stories behind them.
Using out-of-print books, rail maps, cemetery records, and old newspapers that were published when these places were vital, they strive to make history real, relatable, and relevant. Moore has spent over 2,600 hours on research to create a pinned Google Earth map – with layers of settlements, pueblitos, and features like mines, old rail lines, scars from wagon paths, and shipping points – that they use for navigation. In their work, viewers can not only see what is left of places whose names are not widely known, but also learn about the lives of the people who lived and worked there … everyday people of no prominence who nevertheless had roles in building the framework of the state we live in today. What they also find is that through the progress of history, many things about humanity – family bonds, faith, the desire to create meaning in life, necessity and ingenuity. You can find their work on Facebook, under NM Byways, and on Instagram under @enchantedbywaysphoto.