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


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#1 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 10:07 PM

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.


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Dave

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#2 mga707

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 12:22 PM

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.

#3 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 01:30 PM

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

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#4 mobilene

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 03:47 PM

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.

#5 DennyG

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:41 AM

Wonderful glimpses at "real" history. (And yes, I am slow.)

#6 knightfan26917

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 12:02 AM

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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