Date of visit:
June 19, 2001
For location of this site in NM, click on the map:
We rate this site a:
Not a ghost town
Grist mill museum
Old granite jail
Walk the town
St. James Hotel
Kit Carson home
A land-grant area
The Grist Mill
|Cimarron is a historic place not a ghost town, and the town is inextricably a part of the lives of two of New Mexico's most important people, Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell and Kit Carson.
Carson, who came to New Mexico in 1826, started a ranch on Rayado Creek in 1845 when he was only twenty-six.
|Lucien Maxwell came four years later to build a ranch near his friend Carson. Maxwell had married Luz Beaubien, daughter of wealthy landowner Carlos Beaubien, in 1842. Beaubien was one of the two holders of the enormous Beaubien-Miranda Land Grant.
Maxwell eventually bought out Miranda's share of the grant and inherited the other half, becoming in the process the owner of the largest single tract of land ever possessed by one man in the history of the United States - over 1.7 million acres.
Cimarron was settled in 1841, the year of the origin of the Beaubien-Miranda Land Grant, and became an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail twenty years later. Lucien Maxwell moved to Cimarron (a word generally used to describe something wild or unruly) in the late 1850s, and when a post office was granted in 1861 Maxwell was the first postmaster. He built an enormous home, no longer standing, that was a showplace residence of the West.
Maxwell sold his land empire in 1869, retiring to Fort Sumner, where he died in 1875. He is buried about five miles southeast of the town of Fort Sumner near the site of the old fort. It is ironic that most people travel to the cemetery to see the grave of someone else: for as important as Lucien Maxwell was to the history of New Mexico, he is buried near the grave of a notorious kid, William Bonney.
Of interest in Cimarron today are a few buildings south of the main highway. Prominent among them are the Don Diego Hotel, formerly the St. James; an old garage, once Swink's Gambling Hall; and the three-story gray stone grist mill, now a museum, built in 1864 by Lucien Maxwell.
|Site Gallery - Walking Cimarron
|Text source partially exrtracted from:
Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of New Mexico, James E. Sherman, 1975
New Mexico's Best Ghost Towns, Philip Varney, 1999