Steins, New Mexico

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Steins is a ghost town in Stein's Pass of Hidalgo County, New Mexico. It was originally called Stein's Pass after the nearby pass through the Peloncillo Mountains (Hidalgo County).[1] The pass was named after United States Army Major Enoch Steen, who camped nearby in 1856, as he explored the recently acquired Gadsden Purchase.[1]


The town was established in 1880 as a settlement along the Southern Pacific Railroad. Steins had no natural source of water, so all water had to be brought in by train. In 1905 a rock-crushing plant was built to produce track ballast for the railroad.[1] By the 1910 census Steins had its peak population of some 1,300 people.

In 1944, toward the end of World War II, the railway ceased operations at the Steins quarry and gave notice it would no longer subsidize water deliveries. The railway offered the inhabitants of Steins free transport elsewhere with what they could carry; most of the population accepted this offer, leaving their houses and many of their possessions behind. The Post Office in town closed at that time. Over time Steins was completely abandoned.

Part of old Steins burned down, but a large section remained, and was visited by tourists. It is unusual in the old West ghost towns in having been a railroad rather than a mining town.

Steins Pass has been mistaken by uninformed people for the pass at Doubtful Canyon near Steins Peak, a location to the northwest in the same mountain range, which was the location of a Butterfield Overland Mail station and the site of the Battle of Doubtful Canyon.


  1. ^ a b c Julyan, Robert Hixson (1998) "Embudo" The place names of New Mexico (2nd ed.) University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM, pages 341-342, ISBN 0-8263-1688-3

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Coordinates: 32°13′45″N 108°59′22″W / 32.22917°N 108.98944°W / 32.22917; -108.98944