This is the route that Tate and Abby took in my book "Into the Shadowlands." For this blog, Fancy and I are only covering the New Mexico section of this route of the Santa Fe Trail. For this post, we will travel from the Raton Pass, on the Colorado/New Mexico border, to La Junta (Watrous) where the two routes of the trail "join" together. La Junta means "the join." Fancy and I did not ride this whole route, but we visted key stopping places along the trail. All of these "points of interest" feature in the book.
Fancy and I looking down into New Mexico from the Raton Pass.
"Next day we reached the top just about sunrise, and the finest view perhaps I ever saw met the eye. It is very difficult to contrast these pure American landscapes with any other; everything is on so grand a scale. There may be finer single mountains, like Vesuvius, lonlier valleys, like some in Switzerland, but there is nowhere such vastness and grandeur. The most striking feature of the scene was the contrast in tone and color between the view to the north and that to the south. To the north the outline was cut clear and distinct, and the picture cold and majestic; to the south there was warmth and richness of color, a light velvetty purple haze seemed draped over the stretch of mountain and plain; the one awed, the other attracted" ~ Joseph Pratt Allyn, 1863
View of the Colorado mountains from the pass.
The switchbacks on the Raton Pass.
Sketch of wagons on the Raton Pass.
"Worse and worse the road! They are even taking the mules from the carriages this PM and a half dozen men by bodily exertions are pulling them down the hills. And it takes a dozen men to steady a wagon with all its breaks locked - and for one who is some distance off to hear the crash it makes over the stones, is truly alarming. Till I rode ahead and understood the business, I supposed that every wagon had fallen over a precipice." ~ Susan Shelby Magoffin, 1846.
Another sketch of Raton Pass.
The St. James Hotel, Cimarron.
Vintage photo of the St. James Hotel, Cimarron.
Maxwell's Grist Mill, Cimarron.
Vintage photo of Maxwell's mill, Cimarron.
Kit Carson's House, Rayado.
Vintage photo of Kit Carson's house, Rayado.
Maxwell's house, Rayado.
View at Rayado.
Wagon ruts near Rayado, next to Rayado Mesa.
Vintage Fort Union.
Livery at Loma Parda.
Baca's Dance Hall, Loma Parda.
Samuel Watrous House, Watrous (La Junta.)
Vintage photo of Watrous House, Watrous (La Junta.)
Sapello Stage Station, Watrous (La Junta.)
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