During World War II, New Mexico was the site of several top-secret military installations, including the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the atomic bomb was developed. The laboratory is still one of the largest employers in the state and conducts research in fields such as nuclear energy and national security.
Colfax County, located in northeastern New Mexico, has a rich history that begins with the indigenous peoples who inhabited the area for centuries before European arrival. The region was predominantly occupied by various Native American tribes such as the Ute, Apache, and Comanche. The Spanish Empire claimed the territory in the 16th century, establishing settlements and missions. However, due to conflicts with the indigenous peoples, Spanish presence was limited in Colfax County.

In the early 19th century, American fur traders and trappers began entering the region, and the Santa Fe Trail, a major trade route, was established. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, following the Mexican-American War, officially transferred Colfax County along with the rest of New Mexico to the United States. With the influx of settlers, conflicts arose between Hispanic settlers and Anglo-Americans, leading to the Colfax County War in the late 1800s. This violent land dispute between the two groups resulted in several deaths but eventually culminated in the establishment of law and order in the county.

Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Colfax County saw economic developments such as the rise of coal mining and cattle ranching. Towns like Elizabethtown and Raton experienced significant growth due to these industries. The arrival of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway in the area further boosted economic activity and facilitated transportation.

In more recent history, Colfax County has focused on preserving its natural resources and promoting tourism as well. The establishment of Philmont Scout Ranch, a large high-adventure camp, has attracted visitors from around the world. Additionally, the county is known for its beautiful landscapes, including parts of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Cimarron River Valley.

Overall, Colfax County, New Mexico, has a diverse and storied history that encompasses Native American presence, Spanish colonization, conflicts with settlers, economic development, and a focus on natural resources and tourism.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Colfax County, New Mexico.

  • 1852: Colfax County is created by the New Mexico Territory legislature.
  • 1860: The county becomes a part of the Maxwell Land Grant, which encompasses large portions of northern New Mexico.
  • 1869: The county seat is established in Cimarron.
  • 1870: The Colfax County War, a violent conflict over land rights, starts and continues until 1878.
  • 1888: The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway reaches the county, boosting economic development.
  • 1931: The historic Philmont Scout Ranch is established in Colfax County.
  • 1968: The NRA Whittington Center, one of the largest shooting sports facilities in the world, is opened in the county.
  • 1990: The movie "Young Guns II" is filmed in the county, boosting tourism and interest in local history.