History of Pie Town, New Mexico
Pie Town is located in Catron County in west-central New Mexico just west of the Continental Divide at nearly 8,000 feet elevation. The Pie Town Post Office serves 40 families in town and 200 families on the surrounding ranches and subdivisions.
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There are several versions of the story of the founding of the town and how we came to be called Pie Town. There may be some discrepancy in dates but these are the basic facts of our story.
In 1922 a veteran of WW-I by the name of Clyde Norman filed a 40-acre mining claim for gold and silver along the route of US-60 and a trail set aside to drive cattle to a railhead 60 miles to the east. Although US-60 bills itself as the Nation's first coast-to-coast highway, when Clyde Norman settled here the cattle driveway was the more important route. Normanís mining claim was not very successful so he opened a small store to supplement his income. He sold gasoline, kerosene and pies made from dried fruit. Some stories say he made the pies, some say that his teenaged niece did. At any rate the pies were a hit with the cowboys on the cattle drives who went out of their way to stop at "Pie Town."
In 1924 Harmon L. Craig bought a half-interest in Pie Town from Norman for "one dollar of good and lawful money and other good and valuable consideration." A few years later Craig bought out Norman and became Pie Town's leading citizen. He owned the mercantile store, a Chevron service station and garage, a café and a pinto bean warehouse. Most of the families that settled in Pie Town came from Texas and Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl and established homesteads. The bean warehouse provided local homesteaders a way to market their crops. Mr. Craig helped these families struggling though the Depression by selling land below market value, and by making loans with no collateral and no interest.
When it came time to establish a Post Office for the town the Postmaster General thought Pie Town was not an appropriate name, but the local citizens insisted that it was the only acceptable name.
In 1940 Farm Security Administration photographer Russell Lee took an extensive set of photographs of Pie Town, including some using the new Kodachrome color film. Those photographs are in the National Archives.
Today's residents still have the sense of community and self-sufficiency that sustained the earlier settlers. We enjoy a unique tranquility in one of the few places in the United States where you can still see the Milky Way.
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