Hagan, New Mexico

Ghost towns are aplenty across the United States, especially in the South West. Most are no more than a few outlines and at the intersection of two dirt roads, but all the same they are reminders that our cities and towns are also mortals. Once in a while, you stumble upon something different, a place so unique you return time and time again. Such is Hagan, New Mexico.

hagan-2006

Located between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, Hagan is accessible by a dirt road that begins at the very back of the San Felipe Hollywood Casino parking lot. Although the site is only a few miles from Interstate 25, the trek will take about a half hour. Do not attempt this drive if it is raining, the many arroyos will flash flood and cause serious grief for you and your vehicle.

hagan-2006-2

The history of Hagan is intertwined with the history of coal and the rail road. First settled by coal miners in the first years of the 20th century, the town had under a hundred inhabitants. Named for mining investor William Hagan, by 1910, the coal mine and settlement were abandoned as transporting the coal by wagon to the nearby San Felipe Pueblo was too costly.

hagan-2009

In 1919, a Louisiana investor re-opened the mines and connected the town with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in San Felipe. By then, the town had over 500 inhabitants and its own power plant, running water, post office, a general store and a hotel but before long the coal ran out in 1931 and the town died out by the 1940s.

googlemaphagan

Today various buildings are still partially standing; they are the power plant and the mercantile. Others, built with adobe brick, are dissolving away with time. The colourful landscape offers tones that go from golden to ochre, a stark contrast to the crisp blue skies that are so frequent in the land of enchantment.

Update (Oct 20, 2011) : as per the comment posted below, the town of Hagan is private property and access is only possible through NM Jeep Tours.

Photos: S. Kelly

More info :

17 Comments

  1. Roch Hart says:

    Hello. This is private property. I do Jeep tours on this property and also act as the care taker. I request that you either remove this blog inviting people onto private property, which is clearly marked, or edit to advise people to keep out. This in and of it’s self is evidence or your trespassing as well. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

  2. Marc Cormier says:

    Hello Roch

    I will not remove the post as when I visited Hagan in 2006 and 2008, there was no indication the town was on private property. At the time, we even found signs of geocaching. We discovered the town after reading a book purchased in Santa Fe and enjoyed the beauty of site.

    I updated the article, as well as one written in French on a sister blog.

    Why don’t you provide us with the website and contact info for prospective future visitors ?

    Thanks

  3. Marc Cormier says:

    On a side note, we like to joke around with some of our acquaintances. When they ask us where we’re from, we sometimes tell them we’re from Hagan NM, just for kicks.

  4. Guy H. Owensby says:

    Mr.Cormier: Enjoyed your website immensly. I, too, tell people I’m from Hagan but it’s NO JOKE ! I was born at Hagan 85 years ago…yes…on February 7, 1926 in a bedroom of one of those adobe Company houses. My Dad worked as a mechanic and electrician. For extra pay, he would sometimes “shot-put”dynamite to loosen coal in the mine. I last visited Hagan about the mid sixties. It’s sad for me to see my past melting away, but…”That’s Life”! Thanks for the Memories. Guy Owensby

  5. Marc A Cormier says:

    Dear M Owensby, what a pleasant comment! Thank you for dropping by and telling us about your life in Hagan. Please tell us more:

    1) How many people lived there during your time?
    2) How did you get to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, was it by train or road?
    3) What’s your favorite memory of Hagan?

    Take care and write back soon!

    • SK says:

      Mr. Owensby, what a great surprise!

      I was in Hagan too back when Cormier was there as well as on previous visits to New Mexico. I particularly loved going there in the different seasons. A different backdrop for every season. Just incredible..!

      Are there others like you that were born in Hagan that you still keep in touch with? I would love to learn more about you (and them) and maybe even record your stories.

      Please let me know. I can be reached at emotionfilmsltd@gmail.com

      Thanks kindly,
      SK

  6. Guy H. Owensby says:

    Dear Mr. Cormier,
    Responding to your questions regarding my recollectons of Life in Hagan: mine are a composite of Family stories handed down from my parents and four older siblings inasmuch as I was less than a year old when the coal mine shut down and we moved to the Raton NM area. My Family is amazing!: I am the youngest at age 85; my brother (at Albuquerque) is 88; a sister (of Raton NM)is 91, and a sister (of Torrance, Wyoming) is 95. All are mobile and “sharp as a tack”. I only mention all this because it documents the credibility of the Family History that was handed down to me. So, now, to proceed: You asked how many people lived at Hagan when we lived there in 1924-1926: probably no more than four to five hundred. There is no memory of ever going any place by train…only by automobile which in our case was a Flint Touring Motor Car. Instead of glass windows, it had celluloid “curtains” which “snapped” in place. Although it had air-filled tires, it had wooden spokes. Hagan had a fairly state-of-the art company general store and few trips to Albuquerque or Santa Fe were needed to provide basic necessities. My sisters recall attending elementary school with itinerant teachers. One favorite Family Memory of Hagan: I was an infant. and my oldest sister,who was ten years old,was left in charge of me and the other siblings, while my mother briefly went next door. When Mom returned, I had vanished from the bed.
    After many moments of chaos, fear and anguish, I was discovered content and sound asleep between the matress and the bedroom wall. Today, I have hanging in my office, an 18″ piece of distressed wood which is from the window-sill of the bedroom of the adobe Compsny house in which I was born. My Mother recovered it on a visit there in the 60′s or 70′s. My nephew’s wife then decopauged two snapshots of the house onto the wood. I have always been proud of my Heritage, and with “tongue-in-cheek” bragged about my humble beginnings: ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND HIS LOG CABIN, AND ME AND MY HAGAN ADOBE CASA! Thanks for allowing such a verbose reply to your inquiry. Regards….Guy H. Owensby, Annapolis. Maryland

  7. Marc A Cormier says:

    Dear Mr Owensby, thank you again for sharing those great memories.

    I uploaded a new batch of pictures from our 2006 and 2008 trips to Hagan for your enjoyment.

    Please follow this link to the album. Each picture can be enlarged.

  8. Nancy B Davis says:

    I bet Mr Owensby’s family knew my family. My parents lived there and my brother was born there 85 years ago. My grand father was a railroad engineer who transported coal. My mother said when they drove on the road from Hagen to Albuquerque, bandidos would lie in the road to try to get people to stop so they could rob them. I have a dvd of a visit we made to Hagen, probably in the 1960′s. Of course it was originally an 8 millimeter, then a video tape and eventually transferred to a dvd. Toby Smith wrote an article about Hagen sometime in the 1980′s, I think, featuring my mother. My dad was the school principal. I live in St Louis, but visited my family a couple of weeks ago and we drove out to Hagen and were disapppointe that we couldn’t go over ther and walk around.

  9. Marc Cormier says:

    Hello Nancy – I hope M Owensby comes back to this page, this post has had a lot of comments! Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment.

    Do you have any pictures you could share? Are you going to upload the video to youtube? It would be great to see. Take care.

    • SK says:

      OMG! Miss Nancy, I’d love to talk to you too!
      This is a goldmine of information on such an interesting place.
      I’d love to learn more from you.

      (I can’t believe he new owners won’t let someone visit their childhood home. That’s a new kind of callous)

      My email is emotionfilmsltd@gmail.com

      Thanks kindly,
      SK

  10. Marc Cormier says:

    It is a shame that Hagan is now private property.

    • JT says:

      Mr. Cormier,
      Thanks for some insite into the history and thanks to Mr. Ownsby and Nancy Davis for sharing some of thier memories. I recently went to visit Hagan and wondered about the history or if anyone who lived there were still living. It’s still great to hear from the many people who lived in some of these Ghost Towns.
      Yes, it is a total shame that Hagan is on private property. I also wanted to throw this out there: Was there a cemetery in Hagan?

  11. Marc Cormier says:

    You’re most welcome JT ! I’ve also noticed there is very little available online about Hagan.

  12. JT says:

    http://www.topoquest.com/map.php?lat=35.31250&lon=-106.31250&datum=nad27&zoom=4&map=auto&coord=d&mode=zoomin&size=m

    Did find this topo map of Hagan. Also think that Hagan residents who passed away might have been buried in Tejon Cemetery which I’m trying to locate.

  13. Mariah says:

    I know where the Tejon Cemetary is. If you know any names I can check the grave markers and tombstones to confirm. If it checks out I’d be happy to give the directions!

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