Madrid is the closest town to my Earthship – I’ve hiked and ridden a horse there several times – and what a town it is! Madrid, pronounced MAD-rid (not ma-DRID) is a mad, mad place, home to wonderfully mad Madroids.
Today, Madrid has a population of around 300 people, mostly artists, but during its coal mining heyday in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s more than 2,500 miners and their families called Madrid home.
In the 1920′s the company-owned town began a tradition of stringing up Christmas lights for the holidays, using the company’s own coal-fed generators to power more than 150,000 lights.
Madrid quickly became a holiday tourist destination, even attracting the likes of Walt Disney, who is said to have gotten his idea for a “Magic Kingdom” while walking down Madrid’s festively lit Main Street.
World War II put and end to Madrid’s light show and after the mines closed in the 1950′s the place became a ghost town for more than 20 years. In the 1970′s a cadre of artists, craftsmen and hippies moved back to Madrid and many of them are still there!
Madrid is now a thriving artist community, home to more than a dozen galleries and shops. Whenever friends and family come to visit, I take them to Madrid to hunt for vintage cowboy boots and native turquoise jewelry and then to the Mineshaft Tavern for live music and a glimpse of the often outrageous local color.
Once again, Madrid’s Christmas tradition is alive and well! Each December the shops lining Main Street compete for the coveted “Best Lights” award. The resulting show is so spectacular, everybody wins! One of these evenings, I’ll take my tripod into Madrid to get some photos of the Christmas lights, but until then, enjoy these shots from this weekend’s Madrid Christmas Parade!