The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

Ghosties With the Mosties – Cimarron and Colfax, NM

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Here’s my catch up on NM travel-related posts.  I last left you in ABQ, NM at the Dia de los Muertos parade.    Find that HERE.  The route home from ABQ involved a fruitful stop at Trader Joes in Santa Fe where I stuffed my cooler full of all those products I miss (esp. cheap cheese and 2-Buck-Chuck Wine.)  When will Denver get smart and let T. Joes in?

Veered north and east to Taos.  My target that night was to camp in Cimarron Canyon State Park.  I drove the lower part of the Enchanted Circle, Hwy 64.  It was dark, unfortunately, yet my mind played games filling in what the scenery looked like from trips past.  Can’t wait to return to those parts, pretty enough to rival CO in ways.  Had little time to poke around.

Camped.  It was cold.  Thermometer read 23 when I woke.  Coffee could wait.  Hoping for a hot breakfast at my next destination I headed down Cimarron Canyon toward a little town named, yup…Cimarron.

How do I find these places? A patient of mine, this summer, used to live in NM. He listed out a few favorite destinations.   “Have you visited Cimarron yet?”  He queried. “The hotel there is haunted, you know, had the likes of Jesse James and Billy the Kid stay there.” 

I’m a sucker for such western history and was hooked on the thought.

Cimarron Canyon pinches in at a point called the Palisades. There, fins and columns of tan rock  fan down the hillside.  Being a rock climber my interest peaked and I stepped out to investigate.  Looked to be bullet-hard granite(?).  Very climbable.

I need a wide-angle lens. There was more rock than this:

Looked it up on once home here and lo and behold, CLOSED to climbers.  This canyon is a big fishing and hunting destination.  apparently, the state purchased the land using funds from the Federal Sport and Wildlife Restoration Act.  Money came contingent on a management plan that includes hunting and fishing only, from what I read.  For years the park allowed climbers access to the rocks. Not anymore.  apparently guns and rods are the tool to conservation of wildlife in their management plan.

Go figure…

Furthered on down and saw some pretty sights.  10-12,000 peaks nudge the skyline to the south whilst conifer-covered high plateau stretched to the north.  The usual, blue-bird NM sky framed it all.  Have I mentioned how much I love NM landscapes?

Tooth of Time Ridge, I think:

Found Cimarron. Found the St. James Hotel and had breakfast and  plenty of coffee.

Cute, dusty, historic little town.  There’s a fantastic map and historical (meaning OLD) pictures HERE

A few snapshots of town:

St James Hotel inside and out:

Aztec Mill – Built in 1860, it provided wheat and corn flour to locals and served as a dispensary for blankets and food to Native Americans.  The gold rush’s influx of white residents soured that “kind” treatment of Native Americans.  A small “skirmish” in 1875 between agents and Native Americans drove up tensions.  The agency was closed in 1876 with the tribes moving to n.w. – NM and CO.  The museum, unfortunately, was closed.  A huge building, it impressed me.  This pic does not show it’s true size:

This building’s for sale.  Houses a gallery and a home.

Painting from a window in that building:

Local transportation.  It’s not everyday I see someone riding their horse down the hwy.

Further down the road I found COLFAX.

COLFAX, NM – A Meager Ghost Town

Not much is left of Colfax.  At the meeting of RR track and the hwy sits a small reminder of the fragility of 1800’s land promoters’ investments.  Lasting shy of 20 years, the post office closed in 1921.  A school, church, mercantile and gas station lasted into the thirties.  Nearby Dawson, a relic of a coal mining town and the close proximity of Cimarron may have sealed the towns fate as they competed for inhabitants. 

The remains are tightly sealed around in barbed wire fencing. Glimpses in were all I could obtain.  Find great pics from another here

Here, a couple pics, skeleton of a passenger train car:


Ghost towns fascinate me.  I seek them out.  The concept of a place flourishing, being called ‘home,’ kids going to school, lives established, then boom, gone, with structures and artifacts just left behind.  Baffles me.

Barreled home after a quick stop here.  Much left to see in the area.  Added to my mental list of trips for the future. 

PS:  The old Raton Pass Rd., which parallels the modern I-25 Raton Pass, does not go all the way through anymore.  Private land gates it off near the pass.  I checked with the nice ladies in the Raton City Building.  Bummer.

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