A Small Town With A Short Life
In 1908 three men from Cedarvale, Kansas laid out a small farming community in New Mexico. Seeing no reason to come up with a new name, they stuck with what they knew and called the new settlement Cedarvale.
Shortly thereafter, hundreds of homesteaders began arriving by train. The majority farmed pinto beans and sold their crops to far away customers. The high altitude of 6384', dry climate and short growing season were ideal for farming beans and the crop was very much in demand once World War 1 began and pinto beans were used to feed American soldiers.
At it's height, the population reached 500 but during the 1930's, drought and the Great Depression greatly decreased the population of Cedarvale. Today, Cedarvale is an unincorporated community in Torrance County. The post office in Cedarvale closed on May 15, 1990 but it does still have it's own zip code, 87009. I would estimate the current population to be less than 50 people. I only saw a few houses that looked to be inhabited.
The Cedarvale School
In 1917, the community successfully petitioned to build a large school house which would (naturally) be called the Cedarvale School. Construction on the new school was complete in 1921. In 1935, the WPA made improvements to the school, adding a massive gymnasium that likely functioned as a gathering place for the entire community.
The Cedarvale School had four large classrooms. Each classroom would accommodate three grades and students would attend Kindergarten through 8th grade here. The school closed in 1953 and has, apparently, sat abandoned ever since.
A Very Dangerous Place
I found many blog posts and photos of the Cedarvale School from the past couple decades and it appears that the decline of the property has really accelerated in recent years. The roof has collapsed almost everywhere except for one classroom and in the gym. Because of this, and the outside weather now coming inside, the floor is also collapsing. There is a basement under the school so a collapsing floor poses a very real threat to anyone who might venture inside.
There are two No Trespassing signs on the front door and my advice is to honor those signs and absolutely do not enter this building. All of my interior photos are shot from outside the front door and through the windows. If you break a leg from stepping through the floor, get pinned under a fallen ceiling beam, or become otherwise immobilized and unable to escape the advancing rattlesnakes, there is no phone service out here and, even if there were, the closest ambulance is very far away. So don't be a dumb-dumb, stay outside.
Cedarvale is not a place you would be likely to drive past on the way to somewhere else. Trust me, it's not on the way to anywhere.
From Albuquerque, the fastest route is to take I-40 east to Moriarty and then take 41 south past Estancia, all the way to 60. Take 60 east towards Willard and then take 42 south to Cedarvale. This route does not go past the Salinas Pueblo Missions or Mountainair but, if you wanted to go that way, you could come down through Los Lunas and take 47 south and then 60 east to 42 south.
For reasons that are unclear, this classroom has a stove. Maybe Home-Economics was taught in this room or perhaps an unfortunate lunch lady was tasked with preparing meals for two hundred kids on one four-burner stove? Probably the former...
This classroom, which is in far better condition that most of the others, still has a row of desks sitting on tracks that are attached to the floor.
The gymnasium features a basketball court and also a stage for performances.
The Cedarvale School evidently did not have indoor bathrooms and there are a couple of outhouses still standing on the property. This one offers seating for two in case students would like to hold hands while relieving themselves.
Abandoned House in Cedarvale, New Mexico
This abandoned house sits among a cluster of homes that are inhabited so, if you find it, be quick and quiet so as not to disturb the few remaining inhabitants of Cedarvale.
Whenever I visit places like this, especially when there are other houses, I always assume that someone is watching me from a shuttered window, ergo I tread lightly and try to get in and out as fast as possible.
This looks to be the same kind of stove that we saw in the classroom at the Cedarvale School. For this time period, the selection of stoves was probably pretty limited.
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I am DeAnna Vincent, fine art and portrait photographer in Los Lunas, New Mexico. These are the photos from my everyday adventures.