DescriptionMeaning “wild” or “untamed,” Cimarron was fitting for both the brawling stream and the settlement that developed on its banks. Although Eagle Nest Lake ultimately tamed the river, nothing could contain the activities in town from the late 1860s to about 1880. The Las Vegas Gazette once reported, “Things are quiet in Cimarron; nobody has been killed in three days.”
Clay Allison, Billy the Kid, Bob Ford and Black Jack Ketchum were among notorious part-time residents. Gunfights killed 26 men, and New Mexico's first printing press was dumped into the Cimarron River before the range wars ended and the town ceased to be a magnet for every outlaw in the Southwest.
Cimarron languished after losing the county seat to Springer in 1880 but revived in the early 1900s with the arrival of two railroads and the lumber industry. The modern-day city serves nearby ranches, some logging operations and a lively tourist trade. Standing as reminders of a boisterous past are the old jail and the St. James Hotel at 617 S. Collison St., where Annie Oakley joined Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. Four miles south on SR 21 is Philmont Scout Ranch, a high-adventure camp for members of the Boy Scouts.
Sizable populations of eagles, hawks and falcons inhabit the 3,700-acre Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge, 30 miles east off I-25. Part of Carson National Forest, Valle Vidal offers 100,000 acres of rugged back country for backpacking, hunting and fishing. It is 4 miles north on scenic US 64, then 21 miles northwest on Valle Vidal Road, following signs. Cimarron Canyon State Park, 12 miles west on US 64, offers brown trout fishing, hiking and camping.
Visitor InfoCimarron Chamber of Commerce 104 N. Lincoln Ave. CIMARRON, NM 87714. Phone:(575)376-2417 or (888)376-2417
Self-guiding toursA walking tour map available from the chamber of commerce describes 14 historic buildings in the old town of Cimarron.
Things to SeeOld Mill Museum