Here is the first comprehensive history of the Colfax County area of northeastern New Mexico. Best known today as the home of the Philmont Scout Ranch, where thousands of Boy Scouts from around the world gather every year, this beautiful country has a violent and varied past. Centering around the town of Cimarron, the region includes much of the vast Maxwell Land Grant, one of the largest pieces of land to be owned by one man in the history of the United States. Controversy over control of the land began in the sixteenth century with quarrels among rival American Indian tribes.
Spanish and later American troops continued the bloodshed for centuries more. The culmination of the area's history of violence was the notorious Colfax County War between homesteaders and landowners that began in 1875 and continued until the Supreme Court acted fifteen years later. A gold and silver rush lured prospectors to the Maxwell ranch and booming Elizabethtown in the 1860s. But by 1870 the supply of precious metals was almost exhausted, and today Elizabethtown is a ghost town.