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Thread: Catskill, NM - Long's Canyon - Long's Junction

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    Catskill, NM - Long's Canyon - Long's Junction

    Catskill, NM - Long's Canyon - Long's Junction

    This topic was created to provide a link to the "History of Las Animas County" topic.

    If you have additional history, Website links, or images to add you are invited to reply. Otherwise please DO NOT reply. Thank you.


    (Map image ca. 1925. Dashed lines are abandoned Colorado & Southern railroad lines.)

    (I do not have any photos to post for Catskill.)

    Catskill Information & Links.

    Catskill - Founded around 1888; Population N/S;
    County of Colfax; Northeast part of New Mexico;
    has Post Office, railroad, and Express Office.

    "Catskill enjoyed a reputation rare for towns in the 1890s. It was known as a happy and fun loving town. Its citizens contributed time and money to build a church, a recreation hall, a racecourse, a dance pavilion, a picnic ground and a ballpark. It had a twenty-two-piece band as well as a dance orchestra. It was a fun loving town without violence. It was also a lumbering and sawmill town. It produced charcoal in such great demand that three thousand cords of wood were burned daily in the Catskill ovens. During the boom years thirty to fifty flatcar loads of lumber were shipped daily. The town was born in 1890 and had a good life until 1902. The timber around Catskill was becoming scarce and one by one the sawmills began closing down. In that year, the tracks of the Colorado and Southern Railway were pulled up cutting off Catskill's lifeline. There are a few surviving relics of the town most notably ten perfectly preserved redbrick charcoal ovens east of Catskill beside the Canadian River. Once so easily accessible by rail, it can now only be reached with a four-wheel-drive vehicle."


    Catskill Charcoal Ovens

    "Ten redbrick charcoal ovens are almost all that's left of what was the Red River Valley's most active and prosperous community. Within a short time after the Maxwell Land Grant opened up in 1888 droves of settlers moved in and the community of Catskill boasted their own church, recreation hall/dance pavilion, picnic ground, ballpark, racecourse and school. Catskill blossomed as a lumbering and sawmill town, producing charcoal in such great demand that 3,000 cords of wood were burned daily in the Catskill ovens; during the boom years 30 to 50 flatcar loads of lumber were shipped daily. In 1902, however, the timber around Catskill became scarce and the sawmills closed down; that same year, the railroad tracks were pulled off, cutting off the lifeline to the town, and Catskill was finally abandoned in 1905. The charcoal ovens, located east on the Canadian River off York Canyon Road, on the private property of Vermejo Park Ranch, are preserved in perfect form, but can only be accessed by private tour and require the use of a four-wheel drive vehicle. This site is listed on the State Register of Cultural Properties and the National Register of Historic Places."
    (The following link is broken. - RR-Guy - 2/03/11)


    There is a book about Catskill.

    Title: The Catskill, New Mexico story
    Author: Stanley, F.
    Year: 1964
    Number of Pages: 20

    (1)Raton Library possibly has a copy.
    (2)Sometimes found on Ebay for around $25.


    Railroad History

    The Maxwell Land Grant opened up the Red River Valley to timber harvesting and Catskill was founded around 1888 when the grant people sought a ready market for lumber in the region. In 1890 the Union Pacific Railroad completed building a spur from Trinidad, Colorado to Catskill, New Mexico.
    This railroad spur was known as the "Maxwell Branch". Not for the town of Maxwell but for the Land Grant. Catskill became the terminus for the "Union Pacific Maxwell branch".


    The above was "snipped" from the below link in 2004, but the link is no longer functional.

    "At different times during it's existence this line was also referred to as Maxwell Branch, Catskill Branch, Vasquez Branch, and the Pels Branch." (from Wilkins' "Colorado Railroads" book.)

    Again from Wilkins' book, "In 1888 DT&FW constructed tracks from Long's Junction to Martinsen.
    In December of 1890 they completed the tracks to Vasquez."

    In 1890 the entire branch was now owned by the Union Pacific Denver & Gulf Railway Company as mentioned above, but there isn't any mention as to when the tracks to Newton's Mill were constructed.
    However, I presume that they were constructed in the same year, 1890. In 1899, due to the continued dealings of the railroad tycoons, the entire branch from Trinidad was taken over by the Colorado & Southern (C&S) Railway, and this included the Maxwell Branch. The C&S Branch from Trinidad to Sopris still operated, but it too was abandoned in 1930 when the Sopris mines ran out of coal.

    Lastly, it should also be noted that Trinidad has had many destructive floods, recorded as far back as 1882. They appeared to reoccur every ten years or so.

    A passage in McKenzie's book, "Mountain to Mill" reads, "A wall of water surged down Long's Canyon to the Purgatoire River, sweeping away 24 bridges, 10,000 ties, and miles of track from the Colorado & Southern Railway's Catskill Branch".

    The book goes on to say that after reaching Trinidad it destroyed many other large vehicles, and railroad bridges. The date of this flood, according to the book was September 1904, which I quickly noticed, conflicts with a date of 1902 that the C&S tracks were pulled up, as indicated above.

    Regardless, of the year 1902 or 1904, I believe the account to be true, as it is documented in various writings, that Trinidad was the subject of many, very destructive floods through the years.


    (1.) The Colorado Road, by F. Hol Wagner Jr., 1970
    (2.) Colorado Railroads; Chronological Development, by Tivis "Tiv" Wilkins, 1974.
    (3.) Mountain to Mill, by William H. McKenzie, 1982
    (4.) Internet resources.
    Last edited by RR-Guy; 02-03-2011 at 11:43 PM.

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