Exploring New Mexico

Welcome back. I’ll be traveling the old Chisholm Trail this weekend starting on Friday night in Yukon, OK with what’s anticipated to be over 150 riders. The event will go on for two days with food, live entertainment and plenty of western hospitality I’m sure. The cattle trail was named after Jesse Chisholm and he also passed through the Osage Kansas grasslands in 1867 on his way to Abilene where trains would ship cattle to the east coast. For me the weekend is all going to be a history lesson and I’ll give you a report on any interesting findings.

This trip won’t end on the Chisholm Trail though, as I’m off on another trail which was not traveled by cattle but by people and supplies. This trail and many of the towns it crossed was made famous by dozens of books and movies. Over the next few weeks I’ll be taking you with me to places like Raton, New Mexico which is the highest point on the Amtrak rail line and was a major trading center along what you may have already guessed was the Santa Fe Trail. Situated at what seems like the top of the Sangre de Christo mountains, the first Europeans to travel through the area were the French and Spaniards, followed by American settlers. The history lesson here is the perseverance of those settlers in what had to be tough living conditions in those early days. I’ll also be traveling to Springer, New Mexico, another place where Spaniards and early day traders and trappers did business. Another stop will be Capulin, New Mexico where 10 million years ago volcanos erupted and the landscape still shows the impact of those eruptions.

Little towns like Des Moxes and Folsom, the town named after President Grover Cleveland’s soon to be wife are on my destination list and I’ll be taking a couple of side trips into Colorado as well, exploring towns like Gardner where Apache Indians along with Comanche and Utes had their own trails. A stage coach stop in the 1850s, nowadays Gardner is well known as a counter culture center or a “hippie town” as it was known to the 1960s generation. Once a year the town celebrates with Hippie Days and although I’ll miss the festival this year, being 66 I’m anxious to check out the town. Other stops include Walsenburg which was settled in 1852 and La Veta for a visit to the Francisco Fort Museum. In the middle of all these towns, many of which are along the Santa Fe Trail I’ll be staying in the same place where these early travelers rested.

It was the only real hotel along the Santa Fe Trail and it is still open to the public today. Being strategically located for my research, the St. James Hotel will be my home for several days and why not. Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley all stayed here, some longer than others by all accounts. Even though there were 27 killings at the hotel it was still the nicest lodging on the Santa Fe trail.

A three-week journey into the great American west is coming up and I hope you enjoy the trip.
Till next time partner I’ll see ya down the road….

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