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Thread: Sofia, New Mexico

  1. #1
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    Default Sofia, New Mexico

    Does anyone know anything about this town? It is far off on a road from the ghost town of Farley and is in either Colfax or Union county. I know a railroad went through there at one point.

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    Thumbs up Re: Sofia, New Mexico Railroad?

    Hey Matt,

    According to my research, In your assumption I found Sofia in Union Co. just NE of Farley. It is pretty close to the intersection of County Hwy B-115 (E-W) and County Hwy A-008 (N-S). There is an old railroad bed just south of 115 which headed west then turn sharply south to Gladstone or Farley, which one I don't know. There use to be a stage route just north of Sophia and the Santa Fe Trail too.

    I've never been out there but safe to assume there is probably ruins and such. Be careful when doing your search, people living nearby are leary and trigger happy. I wish I had a date that this community was established. The main economic influence was mining in this general area.

    Good Luck,
    TC-NM
    Last edited by TC-NM; 08-31-2008 at 03:05 PM.

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    Thanks for the info. That railroad is a curiosity as well. It ran from the east as far as Boise City, Oklahoma because the grade follows the highway most of the way there. I don't know where it starts or ends though.

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    Default Sofia

    I live in "down town Sofia", in the old RR Depot. My husband works on a ranch here, where we spend our summers.
    George Belcheff came here in 1911, from Romania. He named the community after Sofia,the capital of Romania.
    The RR first came her in 1931, and it went to Farley. The train came through here every Friday evening. They tore the RR out in 1942. They said the needed to recycle the iron for the war.
    They mostly raised beans and sheep. Mining was more north into Colo. I believe.
    The Santa Fe Trail did run just north of Sofia.
    I do not know of anyone who is trigger happy around here. But as anywhere, no one should go running around without getting permission first, and staying on the main roads.
    Last edited by nan; 09-06-2008 at 03:47 PM.

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    campp is offline Rawk Crawlin GPS Totin Ghost Towning Expert
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    Hello nan, welcome to the forum!

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    Hey Nan, are you still using the metal detector?
    Matt here's a link that will put you at the 4 corners in Sofia. The old train depot that Nan is talking about is the second bldg to the left on the south side of the road. My wife's G.G.Grandfather homesteaded a claim just to the north of the 4 corners - the Sante Fe trail crosses over it on the NW portion of the ranch. My wife lived here as a child and attended school at the schoolhouse that is to the west of the depot on the North side of the road. There are couple of family members buried in the cemetary there. Costas Dimitroff came from Macedonia, he was the one who homesteaded, the land was used for dry farming and ranching, I agree with Nan that permission should be gained before entering any property but there aren't any "trigger happy" folks out there. http://terraserver-usa.com/image.asp...24&Y=20172&W=2

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    Union
    county
    founded 1911Post Office 1914-26 GT Lat(362706N) Long(1034923W) (36.45167)(-103.82306) UTM
    Sofia – located 12 miles northeast of Gladstone and 13 miles southwest of Grenville.
    I have over 4300 sites,ghost towns, mines and what not in my database of New Mexico. Asked anytime for info. Bostonbob
    Last edited by Bostonbob; 12-08-2008 at 04:21 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TC-NM View Post
    Hey Matt,

    According to my research, In your assumption I found Sofia in Union Co. just NE of Farley. It is pretty close to the intersection of County Hwy B-115 (E-W) and County Hwy A-008 (N-S). There is an old railroad bed just south of 115 which headed west then turn sharply south to Gladstone or Farley, which one I don't know. There use to be a stage route just north of Sophia and the Santa Fe Trail too.

    I've never been out there but safe to assume there is probably ruins and such. Be careful when doing your search, people living nearby are leary and trigger happy. I wish I had a date that this community was established. The main economic influence was mining in this general area.

    Good Luck,
    TC-NM
    TC-MC,
    Can you share with me what you know about the stage line north of Sofia? We have found ruins of what we believe is maybe a stage depot, on the ranch where we live. We cannot find anyone, who knows anything about it.

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    Actually,nan,Sofia was named after the capital of Bulgaria(not Romania) which is Sofia. The community's founders were brothers Dimitar and Ivan Kostadinov.

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    Smile Sofia NM - the rest of the story

    Maybe this will help -

    ABQjournal: N.M. Homesteader Named New Town After the Capital of His Native Bulgaria
    URL: http://www.abqjournal.com/news/state...nm08-21-05.htm
    Sunday, August 21, 2005
    N.M. Homesteader Named New Town After the Capital of His Native Bulgaria
    By Toby Smith
    Journal Staff Writer
    SOFIA— Nearly a century ago, a sturdily built man wearing an Ottoman
    Empire moustache stepped off a ship at Ellis Island. Alone, knowing not a
    soul, he carried with him a third-grade education, no command of English and
    just $4.
    But he had a dream.
    The man, not particularly tall but physically powerful, was determined to
    own a piece of America.
    America was the land of big breaks, the man believed, if you put your
    shoulder to the wheel. On the other hand, Bulgaria, his homeland, 6,000 miles
    to the east, was not. No matter how hard you worked, Bulgaria lay broken from
    revolutions and poverty.
    Upon arriving in the U.S., the man labored on railroad crews, in coal
    mines and in steel mills, socking away what he could. In 1908, he became a
    citizen.
    A couple of years later, he heard that sections of land in northeast New
    Mexico, a wind-lashed corner on the high plains, were available to
    homesteaders.
    The man paid $40, filed on 160 acres, erected a stone house and planted
    pinto beans. But he soon realized he was the only person for miles around. To
    attract more people, he placed ads in Bulgarian-language newspapers in Chicago
    and St. Louis.
    Immigrants from the Old Country responded by arriving at the isolated
    prairie. And when they did, the man decided to name the spot Sofia.
    Curiously, he had never been to the original Sofia, the capital of
    Bulgaria. But he figured it was a special place, an important place, and so
    was this new one. In fact, he carved a wooden highway sign and stuck it in the
    ground up near U.S. 64, 11 miles away.
    The state of New Mexico didn't like his homemade sign or the name he put
    on it. Sofia sounded like somebody's girlfriend, officials said.
    Nay, nay, the man argued. Not So-FEE-YA. SOF-ya.
    Very great city, Sof-ya, he went on. Very old city.
    The sign and the name stayed.
    And so did the man— for a lifetime.
    The story of George Belcheff, the sturdily built homesteader, is one of
    family and farming and, above all, great fortitude.
    It is the story of a stranger in a strange land who knew one thing in
    life: Hard work never killed nobody.
    Home on the range
    One recent weekday afternoon, George Belcheff's two sons, George and
    Steve, along with their wives, chatted around a kitchen table in the house
    where the brothers were reared, in tiny Sofia, N.M.
    The Belcheff men talked in awe of their father, as they often do, even
    though he's been gone 25 years.
    "He thought the streets of America were paved with gold— if you were
    honest and worked hard," said Steve, 85.
    "Dad wasn't a farmer," said George, 79. "But he wanted the land. To him,
    land meant that he was somebody."
    The sons of George Belcheff left Sofia long ago. In fact, few people today
    live in the lonely flatlands. A handful of buildings beneath a stand of locust
    trees comprise the town's center. In the distance slump several battered,
    abandoned homesteads, reminders of how hard it is to make a living in this
    dirt-road, see-for-miles hamlet 40 miles southwest of Clayton. Too cold in the
    winter, too windblown the rest of the time.
    Both Belcheff men, like their father before them, have the broad faces and
    prominent noses of Eastern Europeans. Only when George speaks, which he does
    with a pronounced West Texas twang, do you realize you're a long way from the
    Balkans.
    "Dad was a strict man," son George said. "He worked like the dickens and
    expected us to do the same. More than anything, he wanted things done right."
    Spurred by George Belcheff's newspaper ads, Bulgarians started coming to
    Sofia about 1913: first the Tsochefs, then the Varajons, the Doitchinoffs, the
    Dimitrovs.
    One family, Risto and Spasa Naumoff, originally from Macedonia, arrived
    with their young daughter. In 1914, Vasilca, only 14, wed the sturdy man, then
    29.
    "Sort of a mail order bride deal," said George.
    Soon a daughter, Evanca, was born, then five more children followed. The
    man built another house, a five-roomer. The smell of cabbage rolls and
    banitsa, an egg and cheese pastry, filled the little house on the prairie.
    Then the sounds of laughter and, eventually, English.
    The dream drew closer.
    Hanging on
    Like many Dust Bowl places in the Depression, Sofia made survival
    Herculean.
    "You couldn't plow the fields because the dirt would fly up and hit you in
    the face," remembered Steve.
    To make ends meet, George turned to raising sheep, then cattle. Somehow,
    some way, he managed to acquire more land.
    One summer in the '30s, hungry grasshoppers descended on Sofia, turning
    the sky black. Undeterred, George Belcheff went after the bugs. He fashioned a
    poison spreader out of an old axle, pulled it behind a Model T truck and
    coated his land. The Belcheffs survived.
    But other Bulgarians in Sofia did not. Like Grapes of Wrath journeyers in
    reverse, they fled back to the Midwest, to secure factory jobs in Ohio and
    Michigan.
    "I don't think Dad blamed anyone for leaving," said George. "That just
    made him more determined than ever to make it here."
    When not nursing his land through the droughts, he bought more of it, or
    assisted Sofia. He badgered the government to build a new school in the town,
    and got it with a WPA project. He pushed for school buses, and got those, too.
    He fought for Sofia to keep its post office even as the population, perhaps
    200 at its peak, dwindled.
    In 1936, to celebrate enduring the punishing years, .Belcheff put five of
    his six children and his wife in a new Pontiac touring car and headed for the
    Midwest. There they visited Bulgarians who had left Sofia— the one in New
    Mexico.
    Steve Belcheff said his father didn't make that trip to rub in his
    success. "He drove us there because he wanted to see his old friends."
    It's true, added son George, his father wasn't one to boast. "But let me
    tell you, he sure was proud of what he accomplished in the country he loved."
    Iron Curtain
    The railroad finally came to Sofia in the 1930s, on new tracks running
    from Clayton down to Farley, N.M. Then quick as can be the rails were uprooted
    to aid the war effort.
    World War II made George Belcheff even more proud. The first time he saw
    his two sons in their U.S. Army uniforms, his eyes went watery.
    In 1959, Belcheff and his bride, Vasilca, called "Lucy" by all, traveled
    back to Bulgaria for the first time. This would be the couple's wedding trip.
    Belcheff had toiled so relentlessly for 45 years that he never took time for a
    honeymoon.
    Bulgaria was now part of the Soviet bloc, and the Belcheffs encountered
    trouble moving about, in the capital city of Sofia or anywhere else.
    "The secret police followed them everywhere," said son George. "They
    followed them because Dad was always talking about how great it was in
    America."
    They stopped in at George Belcheff's hometown of Popova, where most of the
    people, children included, worked in fields that belonged to the government.
    "In the United States," George Belcheff proclaimed loudly, again and
    again, "you can own your own land."
    As George kept proclaiming, Lucy grew nervous.
    "Apparently," said young George, "the people back there convinced Dad it
    was best to shut up."
    "When he left Bulgaria," said son Steve, "Dad never looked back."
    Returning home, Belcheff designed and built a bridge over a nearby creek
    so that motorists had a shortcut to Farley. He was well into his 80s at the
    time. Those who assisted complained of his constant demands to do the job
    right.
    When the Sofia school closed in 1963, Belcheff, self-taught in so many
    areas, but deeply respectful of formal learning, bought the building.
    Said Steve: "He didn't want to see it torn down."
    In 1979, George and Lucy moved to Clayton. Mighty as his willpower was,
    tough old George Belcheff could no longer live in the town he created.
    He died in Clayton in 1980. He was 95.
    The much younger Lucy lived on. She was 97 when she died in 1996.
    "I think she wanted to see her third century," said son George. "But she
    said she really wanted to see her husband more."
    The sturdily built man and his wife are buried side by side, in a small,
    tidy cemetery west of town. "Founder of Sofia," reads the joint headstone.
    Four years ago, county officials, similar to the men who had once battled
    George Belcheff over his sign for the town and for the name he put on it,
    installed two green street signs in Sofia, the first of their kind here. One
    sign says Sofia Road. The other says Belcheff Road.
    The signs are more than markers; they're monuments. Monuments to a man who
    knew that a dream comes true for one reason. When he died, George Belcheff
    owned more than 3,600 acres of land.

    Footnote: I am 3rd generation; knew many of the early residents of the community as a child visiting my grandparents - their families have continued to grow and prosper across the US. I would imagine that the original settlers would be proud of what they started. Thank you for your interest and feel free to check in with one of the remaining descendents nearby for more information. I am sure they would appreciate the visits.

    George III

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