Cimarron and the Santa Fe Trail

September 02, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

While we were in the Eagle Nest and Moreno Valley area, we took a trip westward through Cimarron Canyon to the historic Santa Fe Trail at Cimarron, New Mexico.

 

Cimarron Canyon, NM - PallisadespCimarron Canyon, NM - PalisadesThe Cimarron Palisades are spectacular cliffs in the Cimarron River canyon between Eagle Nest and Cimarron, NM.

 

The canyon provides some spectacular views of the Palisades in the eastern part of Cimarron Canyon State Park.

 

Cimarron Canyon, NM - Clear Creek Log - 2Cimarron Canyon, NM - Clear Creek Log Weather's Store, once a popular stop along the scenic highway through Cimarron Canyon, featured this carved-out log with cool freshwater flowing through it. Although the store building was moved to Eagle Nest, the log remains today at the beginning of Clear Creek Trail in Cimarron Canyon State Park.

 

You'll find hiking trails and more along the Cimarron River and throughout the State Park.

 

Cimarron, NM - Old SawmillCimarron, NM - Old SawmillOld Sawmill coming into Cimarron

 

Established within an almost two million acre land grant, Cimarron, New Mexico was built upon what was originally the Beaubien-Miranda Land Grant.

 

Cimarron, NM - Beaubien-Maxwell GravesCimarron, NM - Beaubien-Maxwell GravesBeaubien-Maxwell family Graves

 

In 1842, Lucien B. Maxwell, a fur trapper from Illinois, came to the area, working as a guide. He married one of Beaubien's daughters that same year. In 1857, Maxwell bought Miranda's interest in the grant and continued to develop the area. 

 

Cimarron, NM - Dold Brothers WarehouseCimarron, NM - Dold Brothers Warehouse Dold Brothers Warehouse

 

Warehouses and supply stores were much in demand along the Santa Fe Trail. M. R. Whiteman built this house as a freighting depot for the Andres Daws stage line. It was later used by the Dold Brothers (also spelled Dahl), who operated a freight line between Missouri and Las Vegas, New Mexico. In 1861 it became a Trading Post and Indian Agency and served as a commissary for Lucien Maxwell. In 1873 it was a general store run by Henry Miller Porter and Asa F. Middaugh and two years later it had become the office of the new Cimarron News and Press

 

Cimarron, NM - Old Trading CompanyCimarron, NM - Old Trading CompanyCimarron, NM - Old Trading Company

 

Cimarron was officially established in 1861 and was named for the Spanish word meaning “wild” and “unbroken.” Increasing Indian troubles and irregular service led to a change in the mail stage route over Raton Pass in 1861, stopping at Maxwell's ranch in Cimarron.

 

Cimarron, NM - Barlow & Sanderson Stage StationCimarron, NM - Barlow & Sanderson Stage StationBarlow & Sanderson Stage Station

 

In 1863, Barlow, Sanderson & Company obtained the stage route.

 

Cimarron, NM - Barlow & Sanderson Stage StationCimarron, NM - Barlow & Sanderson Stage StationOld Barlow & Sanderson Stage Station

 

This building was used as the local stage office from 1870 until the mail route closed in 1880 with the coming of the railroad to Springer, 25 miles to the east. It was then used as a Wells Fargo Office and later converted into a mercantile store in the early 1900s.

 

Cimarron, NM- Maxwell HouseCimarron, NM - Maxwell HouseLucien Maxwell's House in Cimarron no longer stands. It was located west of the plaza.

 

In 1864, after the death of his father-in-law, Maxwell bought out the five other heirs, becoming the largest landowner in the United States and renamed the property the Maxwell Land Grant. The Maxwell Cimarron mansion pictured above no longer stands.  It was located west of the plaza. 

 

Cimarron, NM - Aztec Mill - 2Cimarron, NM - Aztec Mill Aztec Mill

 

Cimarron, NM - Aztec MillCimarron, NM - Aztec Mill

 

Maxwell had the Aztec Mill built in 1864. Capable of grinding 15,000 pounds of wheat per day, the mill supplied flour for Fort Union and distributed supplies to the area Indians, for which Maxwell was compensated by the federal government. The mill operated until 1870.

 

Cimarron, NM - Jail TodayCimarron, NM - JailOld Jail in Cimarron

 

Cimarron was a wild and rough boomtown as the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail brought in some rowdies. 

 

Cimarron, NM - New Town ShopsCimarron, NM - New Town Shops

 

At one time, Cimarron boasted 16 saloons, 4 hotels, and numerous trading stores. 

 

Cimarron, NM - BuildingsCimarron, NM - BuildingsPhoto by Dave Alexander.

 

One of the hotels, Lambert's Inn, opened by Henry Lambert, became the infamous St. James Hotel.

 

Cimarron, NM - St. James Hotel VintageCimarron, NM - St. James Hotel

 

Built in 1872 by Henry Lambert, the hotel's saloon, restaurant, and 43 rooms were witness to at least 26 murders during Cimarron’s wilder days. The Hotel was later renamed St. James and continues to cater to travelers today.

 

Cimarron, NM - St. James Hotel, 2021Cimarron, NM - St. James Hotel, 2021St. James Hotel, 2021

 

It's also said to be haunted!

Cimarron, NM - St. James Hotel Mary Lambert RoomCimarron, NM - St. James Hotel Mary Lambert Room Cimarron, NM - St. James Hotel Poker RoomCimarron, NM - St. James Hotel Poker Room

 

Today, Cimarron is a quaint mountain community called home to about 900 people.

 

Cimarron, NM - Dragonfly Brewing CompanyCimarron, NM - Dragonfly Brewing Company

Read all about Cimarron HERE

Also see

The Maxwell Land Grant - Largest in US History

Haunted St. James Hotel

 

Rayado

Rayado, NM - Maxwell Home - 2Rayado, NM - Maxwell HomeMaxwell's first home in Rayado.

 

Before helping to establish Cimarron, Maxwell built this house in what would become Rayado, 10 miles south. Kit Carson also had a home here at one time. 

 

Rayado, NM - MuseumRayado, NM - Museum

 

In fact, it was Maxwell and Carson that established Rayado in 1848, although Carson realized the danger of Indian attack and never moved his family there.

 

Philmont Scout Ranch, NM - Santa Trail & Tooth of TimePhilmont Scout Ranch, NM - Santa Trail & Tooth of Time

 

Rayado, which means “streaked” in Spanish, was perhaps named so for the beautiful cliffs close to the settlement.

 

Rayado, NM - La Posta Stage StationRayado, NM - La Posta Stage Station

 

As Rayado was located near the point where the Mountain Route and the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail rejoined, both Carson and Maxwell entertained a number of Santa Fe Trail traders.

 

Rayado, NM - Camp - 3Rayado, NM - Camp - 3 Rayado, NM - Museum - 5Rayado, NM - Museum
In April 1850, Rayado was raided by Jicarilla Apache Indians, who stole horses and seriously wounded two Mexican herders. Afterward, a federal garrison post was established at Rayado that lasted until Fort Union was established the following year.

 

Philmont Scout Ranch, NM - ScoutsPhilmont Scout Ranch, NM - Scouts

 

Today, Rayado is part of the Philmont Scout Ranch and includes the original Maxwell home, a reconstruction of Carson’s home, the Chapel of the Holy Child, and La Posta, a Santa Fe Trail stage stop dating from the 1850s.

 

Rayado, NM - Building -2Rayado, NM - Building

 

Read about Rayado HERE

See our entire Colfax County Photo Print Gallery HERE

 

Also see

Santa Fe Trail - Highway to the Southwest

The Santa Fe Trail in New Mexico

Maxwell Ranch on the Santa Fe Trail (by H. Inman, 1897)

Lucien Maxwell by a Santa Fe Trail Driver

Cya On the Road

 

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