What can you tell me about Cimarron, New Mexico?

Max Gross

Venice, Florida

Cimarron, on the Old Santa Fe Trail, had its beginnings in 1841 when the Beaubien-Miranda Land Grant was filed. Along with being the headquarters of the 1.7 million-acre Maxwell Land Grant Company, it became an instant gathering place for ranchers and miners. In 1864, Lucien B. Maxwell built a house the size of a city block, with a gambling room, billiards room, dance hall and, in the rear section, a bordello. The house soon became a favorite stopping off place for travelers along the Santa Fe Trail. It was also the launching place for prospectors, trappers and hunters. Among the guests were Mountain Man Kit Carson, showman Buffalo Bill Cody and shootist Clay Allison.

Across the street from the Maxwell House was the St. James Hotel, run by Henry Lambert. Among its guests were Cody, sharpshooter Annie Oakley, outlaw Jesse James and author Zane Grey. The hotel was a favorite hangout of outlaws, and it’s said that 26 killings took place there. The Las Vegas Gazette reported, “Everything is quiet in Cimarron. Nobody has been killed in three days.”

Cimarron’s glory days ended when the Santa Fe Railroad built its line some 20 miles east of town. But the St. James is still doing business—with bullet holes in the ceilings. And the Old Mill Museum, originally built by Maxwell, exhibits great artifacts. Cimarron is definitely a place worth visiting.

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