HISTORY OF CIMARRON, NM
The history of Cimarron, New Mexico is rich and interesting. Several buildings and sites stand as a testament to the town's wilder days. Stop by a local business or the Visitor Center and pick up a self-guided Historic Walking Tour of Old Town Cimarron and its companion, A Brief History of Cimarron.
The historic walking tour includes a look at the old jail, stage office, St. James Hotel, and more. In all there are 14 historic sites dating back to the mid 1800s within a short 30-60 minute walk, including the Old Mill Museum. Brass plaques mounted on stone pillars guide the way and present information about each historic site, and local history, including the Santa Fe Trail, Lucien Maxwell and his 1,713,000 acre Land Grant, and the Colfax County War. Guided tours are also available through Legends by Lantern Light Tours which adds many local tales and ghost stories.
CIMARRON, New Mexico was once the home of Anasazi, Jicarilla, Apache, and Ute Indians, and is located on the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail. It became the hub of a vast mining and ranching empire in the mid to late 19th century. The pioneer spirit which gave rise to Cimarron brought the famous and infamous alike. Western legends such as Kit Carson, Black Jack Ketchum, Wyatt Earp, Clay Allison, and Buffalo Bill have each added flair to the area’s rich history.
In Spanish, Cimarron means “wild and unruly,” harking back to the historical turbulence of this now peaceful community. The area was once part of the controversial Maxwell Land Grant, which eventually caused the Colfax County War in the late 1800s. In addition to Cimarron’s rich Native American heritage, Spanish settlers, homesteaders, trappers, traders, and many other colorful characters made this beautiful area their home.
In the 1800s, few towns had such a reputation for violent gun-play as Cimarron. Once lawless, today this peaceful town echoes the sights and sounds of its historic past. You can still see ruts of the Santa Fe Trail and walk on this historic living monument. The sparkle of trail campfires and the howl of coyotes remind us that the old west and the new west overlap.
HISTORIC PHOTO GALLERY
© Photographs from the Audrey Alpers Collection. Please do not reproduce without permission