Wild Wild West

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Cowboys and Indians and the Wild, Wild West –  exemplified on the blog this week with a Pow Wow and a Rodeo – the Maverick Club Rodeo in Cimarron, which happens to be the oldest, ongoing Rodeo in the West.

Founded in  1922, the Maverick Club was the brainchild of fifty prominent citizens of Cimarron. They used the term “Maverick” because they felt they couldn’t abide by conventional (club) rules. There were no membership dues, and once a man joined, he was a Maverick for life.

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On July 4, 1923, the newly formed club sponsored its first rodeo for the community. It has become an annual event ever since.

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In Spanish, Cimarron means “wild and unruly,” referring to the historic unrest of this community. Rich in Native American history, the area later became part of the controversial Maxwell Land Grant, which eventually caused the Colfax County War in the late 1800s.

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In the 1800s, few towns had as much of a reputation for gun-play and violence as Cimarron, New Mexico. it was seriously lawless, Wild West territory. Maverick Country.
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Cimarron’s colorful history and scenic surroundings continue to attract visitors year round. Any trip to Santa Fe and Taos should include a visit to this infamous town. Besides the Rodeo, there’s plenty to see and do in the area, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the old St. James Hotel.
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The St. James Hotel, is a must see (and stay). An historic hotel, restaurant and bar, it is known for its legendary status of being haunted by the spirits of men murdered there in the 19th century during New Mexico’s Wild West era.
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These days guests can stay at the hotel, in either the historic section or in the new addition. The hotel is in the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Cimarron Historic District.
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The St. James was built in 1872, on the recommendation of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, by Henri Lambert, personal chef to President Abraham Lincoln. Lambert moved west and settled in Elizabethtown, New Mexico, with hopes of striking gold. That dream dashed, he opened a restaurant and saloon.
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In those days, Elizabethtown, Cimarron, and much of the surrounding area was owned by Lucien B. Maxwell and was a part of the huge Maxwell Land Grant. Maxwell enticed Lambert to come to Cimarron, where he founded the Lambert Inn, which would later be renamed the St.James.

01 IMG_3961 (2)During its hey- day, the St. James was visited by many notorious outlaws and was the scene of hundreds of shoot outs. A favorite saying in the area became “It appears Lambert had himself another man for breakfast,” and the usual question around Cimarron was “Who was killed at Lambert’s last night?”

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Wyatt Earp, his brother Morgan, and their wives stayed at the Inn on their way to Tombstone, Arizona. Jesse James always stayed in Room 14. Buffalo Bill Cody stayed at the Inn, and took an entire village of Native Americans living nearby on the road with his show. The outlaw Davy Crockett, (a descendant of the original Davy Crockett), killed three Buffalo Soldiers inside the hotel’s bar. Annie Oakley too, frequented the St. James Hotel.

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Others who have stayed at the hotel include Bat Masterson, train robber Black Jack Tom Ketchum, General Sheridan, Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid, Clay Allison, Pat Garret, artist Fredrick Remington, Governor Lew Wallace, and writer Zane Grey.

01 IMG_4901 (1)In 1901, when Henri Lambert’s sons replaced the roof of the St. James, they found hundreds of bullet holes. A double layer of hard wood stopped anyone sleeping upstairs from being killed. Today, the dining room ceiling still has many visible bullet holes.

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These days Cimarron is a pretty peaceful community, but the Maverick Club’s July 4th Rodeo brings the Old and New West together in a celebration of authentic Americana. For more information about both the Rodeo and the St.James Hotel, please visit their websites linked below this post.

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These incredible shots were taken by Bill Curry on July 4th at the Maverick Club Rodeo in Cimarron.

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7 thoughts on “Wild Wild West

  1. Many years ago I and a special friend ventured over to the St. James for a lovely dinner (a la bullet holes) and up the creaky stairs for an overnight in one of the old rooms, complete with wash stand, chandelier, and iron bed. The neighboring room was nailed shut and was ominously decorated with barbed wire. Upon inquiry, we were advised that the room was habituated by a guest from another plane (haunted), and never rented to living guests. Spooky fun!

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