Friday, November 16, 2007 at 11:50AM
Mike Smith in Column
Like a brokedown car on blocks, the city of Lordsburg sits parked in the extreme southwest corner of the state, letting weeds twine up through its center and rust eat away at its edges.
Founded in 1880 as a railroad town and currently the largest settlement in Hidalgo County, Lordsburg is home to more than 3,000 hardy souls, a thriving methamphetamine trade, and wind and dust storms so intense they will sometimes blow cars and trucks from one lane of Interstate 10 into another.
The businesses of Lordsburg’s main street sit mostly abandoned, and all around the town the desert swirls away into flatness, careens toward a horizon of ancient and eroded hills, and warps into a stark and gorgeous world of sand and cactus, in which things like cities and government and the written word can sometimes start to feel like a barely remembered dream.
Cormac McCarthy tapped into this feeling when he made the area a primary setting for his 1994 novel The Crossing.
"The new country was rich and wild," he wrote. "You could ride clear to Mexico and not strike a crossfence."
In such open desert, in country such as this, there is often a feeling of life gone atemporal—independent of time—a feeling that isn’t dispelled upon talking with the locals.
In Lordsburg, people trade stories of horsebound cowboys chasing flying pterosaurs across the desert, tell of airplane-sized “thunderbirds” many times larger than any fowl alive today, and match tale for tale of strange creatures flapping straight out of the past and into the present.
Also in Lordsburg, a number of ranchers and hobbyists claim to have sighted an abundance of UFOs and strange lights. From the 1990s to 2006, amateur UFOlogists Ramón Ortiz and Benjie Medina photographed and filmed scads of unusual air traffic over the city, much of it during the day, and some of which appears to show technology far beyond any currently known to the public—objects that zip, hover, divide, flash, and even change shape in mid-air.
In Lordsburg, stories suggest that perhaps the usual walls between the past and the present, and the present and the future, aren’t quite as solid as they should be—and it’s almost natural that locals would look for something to explain it all...for something like the Lordsburg Door.
The Lordsburg Door, also called the Lordsburg Gate, is said by locals to be a sort of vortex, a naturally occurring portal that bridges time and the dimensions of space—a hidden gateway in the desert outside of town. The Door is one proffered explanation for why the past and the future seem to meet here—for why so many stories of living pterosaurs, supernatural entities, and futuristic aircraft could rise from one tiny place so easily.
Albuquerque economist Rob Feightner recently rode a Ducati motorcycle down to Lordsburg and Silver City, to gather information on this subject for “My Strange New Mexico”—and chronicled his bizarre trip on his blog, Desertoftherealeconomicanalysis
“Apparently,” Feightner learned, “some cattle would enter the portal and others would exit…. This replacement indicated that rustling was not involved in the disappearance of the cattle because cattle thieves would not replace stolen cattle with inferior stock.”
Lordsburg UFOlogist Ramón Ortiz said in a recent interview that the Door stands in Gold Gulch just north of town, near mile marker 17 on State Highway 90, and he said it resembles Moses’ biblical burning bush, burning fiery red. (Other accounts place the Door just south of town.) A small chair and table carved of rock sit next to it, Ortiz said, and an old stump sits just in front of it, with a human leg bone trapped in its center—a bone said to be the end result of someone who stepped straight out of the Door and into a tree, a la the Philadelphia Experiment. (That experiment had to do with an alleged 1943 incident in which five living sailors were purportedly fused into the metal walls and decks of their ship.)
The Lordsburg Door, Ortiz said, has already let in everything from shadowy giants, to living pterosaurs, to the spirit of Geronimo—the legendary Apache warrior. The Door can only be seen by those who are “wanted there,” can only be opened with a peacefully made burnt offering, and can only be closed with a sword. Ortiz also said the Lordsburg Door is one of seven such doors in New Mexico's Boot Heel region, all of which lead, circuitously, to Heaven, and one of which happens to be in Ortiz’s basement.
Ortiz said there are also twelve blue-colored gates that lead to Hell, and he claimed all of these portals will soon be opening wide.
“Everything is coming through these doors, these gates!” Ortiz warned. “It’s Judgment Day! Jesus is coming.”