Lordsburg was once a transportation and commercial hub for southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. Phelps Dodge ran the Playas Smelter nearby and the local economy was built on ranching, farming (cotton and roses), and mining. The main highway ran through town and into southern Arizona and an international crossing to Mexico was just south at Antelope Wells. Students, including former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, came from the surrounding area in both New Mexico and Arizona to attend school. During World War II, an internment camp outside of Lordsburg held German prisoners of war.
However, when Interstate 10 was built, it bypassed Lordsburg, and the town has suffered economically as a result.
The Lordsburg/Hidalgo County Museum is housed in the old Hidalgo County Armory. The museum covers the area’s history. A premier and extensive exhibit is on New Mexico’s various World War II internment camps. This exhibit began as a traveling exhibit funded by the New Mexico Humanities Council and is now housed permanently in Lordsburg.
Nearby you can also visit the ghost town, Shakespeare. Originally known as Mexican Springs, Shakespeare was a mining boom town on the Butterfield Overland Stage Trail. The town survived until 1932 and in 1935, it was purchased by the Hill family of Lordsburg. The town is known for its wild history that includes tales of Billy the Kid as well as, lesser known outlaws such as Russian Bill and Sandy King. The museum and visitor center are open two Saturdays a month when there are also tours and re-enactments about life in the town. There are occasional public tours offered for a donation. Call 575-542-9034 for the schedule. There are no private tours.