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Raton Pass On The Santa Fe Trail, National Old Trails Road 1920

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Old post cards often tell stories, not only through the images but also through what is written by the sender. The four below are no exception.

 

Raton Pass crosses the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Raton New Mexico and Trinidad, Colorado. It was also called the Scenic Highway. Today's highway is Interstate 25 and auto travel over the pass is on sweeping curves at posted speeds of 75 miles an hour in the summer. Obviously that wasn't always true.

 

The pass is celebrated in song and story (eg C. W. MaCall's “Four Wheel Cowboy, “ and Townes Van Zandt's Snowin' on Raton”), including the 1951 movie “Raton Pass” . It was the pass through which the original Santa Fe Trail wound, and was an early railroad pass into the southwest. About 1915 it was opened as an auto road and became the route of the Santa Fe (auto) Trail and the National Old Trails road.

 

From the looks of the route on Google Earth, I would surmise that it can be traveled today. Does anyone know?

 

The writing on the back of the cards follows:

 

March 20, 1920

 

 

#2 (number 1 is missing)…..on Raton Mts. Passed through in the afternoon. Henry showed his power. N.M. State line on top of them. About 9000 ft high.

 

This is not Henry. (Right! The have named their car “Henry.”)

 

Mother, the kids and I took a walk on one road like this while Daddy dosed (in) Henry

 

 

#3Raton Mts. Going up hill most of the time but it seems down hill. Wonderful scenery, cool breeze

 

 

#4 Going down to Racon (sp) after being up in the air for many miles. Some winding! Henry liked it though.

 

 

#5 on Raton Mts. Had noticed them in the distance since leaving La Hunta (La Junta, Colorado).

 

Right above the city of Raton. Looked spooky when we looked down.

 

 

AR4cards.jpg

 

ARnotHenry.jpg

 

ARchainguards.jpg

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Now that is a cool road! Even today, the route through the pass on I-25 is one of the better stretches of Interstate in the Southwest. The postcards' writer exaggerated just a bit: The top of the pass is a little over 7800 feet in elevation.

Aside: There's an excellent little non-chain motel right in "Rat-town" called the Raton Inn. Clean and quite nice.

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Appreciate the reply!

 

Since the old road followed the ridge line, it was obviously higher than the modern road, but it doesn't appear to have exceeded 8,000 ft, so as you say, the writer overestimated the elevations.

 

As you know, the pass is full of history, not the least of which is that of the Mountain Branch of the original Santa Fe (mule and wagon) Trail. Frontiersman Uncle Dick Wootten built 27 miles of the road in the mid 1860's and charged a toll collected at his ranch house. If you look very closely you can see a little cabin in the third (lower left) card when it is enlarged by clicking on it. I wondered if this could have been his place. Probably not.

 

But again, look at the "stories" the old post cards tell!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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These are great! And made better by the sender writing about their experiences where the images were made. So often what's written on a postcard has nothing to do with the photo on the other side.

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Dave,

 

Now THOSE are AWESOME. Simple as that. I've looked through old family post cards, pictures, etc., and something about them always just makes me pause and really "take them in" ... studying the pictures, wondering what the writer was thinking as they wrote it ... wondering if the writer wondered how the recipient would appreciate it, etc.

 

Thanks for sharing these!

 

 

 

 

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Hello, I finally got my account to work and allow posts here. I am wanting to know if you still have the postcards and would 1) sell them to me or 2) forward me copies of the back? I just purchased the 1000 acres on the east side of the Old Pass and am wanting all the old history I can get. Any response would be appreciated :) Thank you! Kyan Hayden-Raton, NM

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Kayn,

 

It has been awhile since I did that series of posts. I really have no idea whether I still have those cards. We have an approximate date from the posts, so I will see what I might have on disks. And I think I have all my e-bay e-mails so I can check if I sold them.

 

Give me maybe a week and rattle my chain if I don't get back to you by then.

 

Dave

 

I did find the higher resolution scans from the original American Road post, but not of the backs, on one of my backup drives. If you message me on this site with an e-mail address, I will send the digital content I find. Do Not put your e-mail address in a post!

 

I will take a look in the "stacks" to see if I find the cards.

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Kayn,

 

I found 3 of the four cards. Which is probably pretty good for me. The one missing is the lower right in the display of 4 above. It may turn up. Again, message me with an e-mail address. I might also have some old road maps of the Pass.

 

Dave

 

Note: I note that the USGS Historical map collection has 1914 and 1915 topos that show the road and the Pass area. If you are not familiar with those maps, they may well be a gold mine for your purposes. If you need advice on how to access them let me know.

 

Dave

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