Raton Pass

Colfax County New Mexico

SFT photo

Photo by Henry Ostrander

From the 7,834' high summit, the canyons used by the SFT caravans, AT&SF RR trains and Interstate 25 motorists, drop away to the N (for a spectacular view of Trinidad and SE Colorado) and to the S (for a view of Raton and the W end of the volcanic Raton Mesa Group). The Santa Fe Trail caravans descended what is today Railroad Canyon (W of I-25) to Willow Springs (which pre-dated Raton). "Uncle Dick" Wootton blasted out 27 mi. of wagon road and put in a toll road up the N side of the pass in 1866. Photograph was taken from the top of Raton Pass looking S into New Mexico.

Raton Pass and the Mountain Route bore heavy traffic at critical moments in the history of the Trail. The Army of the West led by Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny used this route in 1846 on its way to the conquest of New Mexico. The Trail through the pass was the strongest link between the Southwest and the Union throughout the Civil War. The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad laid tracks over the pass in 1879, bringing about an end to the SFT.