Madrid History Overview

Once upon a time Madrid was a coal mining center. It was home to the first lighted ball field west of the Mississippi, and Madrid was famous for Christmas displays. Airlines would detour flights to see the lights of Christmas. At a time when few people had any experience with electricity, Madrid had the coal to have electricity, and each home had it. There is a possibility that the common C9 Christmas bulb was created in or for use in Madrid. It may have started in the mines themselves, and then used for decoration later. Each year, Madrid had an amazing Toy Land built in the ball park. This included displays, and rides for the children. There are even rumors that Walt Disney may have been involved in the project.

Once the United States entered WWII, the fun was over. Christmas displays were no longer permitted because Madrid was the sole provider of coal to the top secret Los Alamos laboratories. What is now the Johnsons of Madrid Gallery, was at one point the key to keeping Los Alamos secret. The building was used to build and house specially designed vehicles with an engine on each end to make it possible to get up the tight switchbacks on the road to the laboratories. So the idea that the US would have anything of value in that inaccessible location was discounted as impossible.

After WWII the mines stayed open in a lower capacity until 1953, when they were closed for good. For twenty years, the town sat empty. For much of that time, the whole town was for sale. As a company-owned town, it was a single lot. In 1973 the Hubers, who owned the town chose to divide it and most of the lots sold within a few weeks.

The newcomers were largely artists. Madrid is still well known for its abundant creative talents. Most of the businesses in town are galleries, using spaces that were once homes, general stores, and even garages. Madroids are not used to following the fold, and tend to break their own ground. We are very proud of our amazing history. We still do a large Christmas celebration, although it cannot compete with modern city displays, it is done with a nod to the history of the area, and has a friendly feeling of years gone by.