Somewhere in our winter brains, somewhere far from freezing pipes and ice covered parking lots, there is a person relaxing in a pool of steaming water, a person who gazes at the glistening stars in a very dark and cloudless sky. Watching the rising steam blend with the Milky Way passes for entertainment in that world. And that world is at the heart of Faywood Hot Springs in southern New Mexico.
I doubt there is a darker sky anywhere in the state than exists in the big emptiness between Silver City and Deming. In this area where every plant seems important and water can be pretty scarce lies a hot spring bubbling up through a dome of the same tufa that formed the nearby City of Rocks.
Ancient mortar holes for grinding as well as Mimbres pottery shards have been found there. By the 1860’s stage lines running between Mesilla and Pinos Altos would make layovers at the springs long enough for the passengers to take a mineral bath.
William and Mary Hudson bought the place and 1884 marked the opening of a large adobe hotel at the site. It was square with a comfortable and verdant placita in the center which offered protection from the winds. One guest was Mrs. William Antrim, mother of Billy the Kid.
This structure evolved into a 50 room affair by the turn of the century under new owner, William Graham. With hot and cold running water (no surprise there), it was said to be the finest hotel in the territory. Unfortunately, he went broke. It was then bought by three men from Minnesota. Two of them, J.C. Fay and William Lockwood, combined their names and Faywood Hot Springs came into being.
Its popularity reached a high-point around WWI when friends and relatives of troops, the 34th Infantry “Sandstorm Division,” stationed at Deming’s Camp Cody were frequent guests at the Fabulous Faywood.
At some point the big hotel was demolished and another century of financial ups and downs for various entrepreneurs resulted in the springs being closed and fenced off by eventual owners, Phelps Dodge Company.
But now we have new owners, and Faywood Hot Springs is open once again! It retains its rustic, adventurous flavor but with a civilized charm. It offers camping and lodging, as well as day use.
There is also a separate “clothing-optional” section, both for the pools and for camping. It might seem cold in the evening, but it warms up in the sun-filled days of southern New Mexico to make this an inviting option. See www.faywood.com for more information and lots of pictures of their 13 pools and other facilities.