Situated where the High Plains meet the Rocky Mountains and where the Santa Fe Trail crosses the Cimarrón River, the village of Cimarrón has a richly varied history. Spectacular rock columns, thick seams of coal, dinosaur footprints, pit houses, and petroglyphs echo an early geologic and human presence. Spanish explorers encountered area Native American settlements in the 1700s, and by the 1820s, mountain men roamed these Rockies while eastern merchants followed Indian trails to Santa Fe. By the 1860s, Cimarrón was the headquarters of a vast Mexican land grant managed by Lucien Maxwell and Kit Carson. A gristmill supplied local soldiers and Indians, and the discovery of gold attracted thousands. The Colfax County War erupted after speculators purchased the grant in 1870. When the railroad arrived in 1906, a “New Town” was built on the north side of the river. Today, through tourism and the Philmont Scout Ranch, the Cimarrón area offers a unique window into the history and growth of the West.
Author Bio: Randall M. MacDonald, 20-year Cimarrón resident Gene Lamm, and Sarah E. MacDonald have each served on the Philmont Scout Ranch seasonal staff. These splendid images were gathered from the Old Mill Museum and the Philmont Museum in Cimarrón, the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library in Raton, and personal collections.
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