The long history of Cerrillos as a major mining center starts with a rare blue-green turquoise mined by ancient Puebloan people in the Cerrillos hills as early as 900 AD. With the arrival of the Spanish, who also mined the area, Spain’s crown jewels ended up containing the turquoise found in these mines.
By the 1880s, Cerillos was a boom town with 21 saloons, four hotels and mines that also produced gold, silver, lead and zinc. Even Tiffany & Co., headquartered in New York City, used the turquoise from here in its world-famous jewelry.
But by the the end of the 19th century, the price of turquoise had declined and the market soon collapsed. The boom days were over, but Cerrillos survived with sleepy streets and adobe homes nestled among towering cottonwood trees. The Old West feeling remains palpable and that has turned the town into a popular setting for Western films including “Young Guns” and “Outrageous Fortune.”