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Dry Cimarron Scenic Byway - Page 4

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Wedding Cake Butte, New MexicoTravessier

Continuing on NM 456, you will cross the Dry Cimarron River several times. At Travessier, there is a picturesque overlook, which is the entrance into the Dry Cimarron Valley, which narrows into a series of wild and wonderful sandstone formations. On the north side you will see a particular colored sandstone formation called the "Battleship," named in remembrance of the Maine. You will also see "Wedding Cake Butte," a round mound rising about 300 feet above the valley floor, where its red, white and brown layers of sandy rock gives it an appearance of a large layered cake. In early days, many couples exchanged wedding vows atop this geographic formation. The drive along NM 456 is a refreshing change from the grasslands.

McNees Crossing

Just before the Oklahoma border, turn right (south) on Hwy 406 towards McNees Crossing. A state historic sign sits in the actual "ruts" of the
Santa Fe Trail. The trail crosses the North Canadian River, which is also called "Corrumpa Creek" by people who live in the area. The crossing is named for a young scout of an east-bound caravan who was killed in the autumn of 1828 by Indians. A short distance to the north is a gate (close it if you go through). To the east is a windmill; nearby is a small marker erected in 1921 on the 90th anniversary of the first celebration of July 4th, in what is now New Mexico.

 

Old Santa Fe Trail

Continue on NM Highway 406 south towards Seneca and Clayton. You will cross traces of the Old Santa Fe Trail here and again through the Kiowa National Grassland. Many wonder why it's possible to see so many Santa Fe Trail ruts more than 100 years after the trail closed. It's a rule of geology that linear scars tend to perpetuate themselves - in other words, ruts are places for rainwater to run like a little stream, so they tend to keep eroding and perpetuate themselves. Clayton is approximately 23 miles from McNees Crossing. Turn right when you reach US 56 to Clayton.

 

ClaytonLakeStatePark_Photo_Clayton-Union_County_Chamber_of_Commerce.jpg (300x188 -- 11001 bytes)Clayton Lake State Park

North of Clayton on Highway 370, visit The Clayton Lake State Park to see the tracks left by at least eight different kinds of dinosaurs. Some 100 million years ago this site was actually the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico. The site is well interpreted and accessible by stairs and a boardwalk. Several of the tracks are unique or reported at only one other site in the world.

 

Capulin Volcano National Monument

Continue north on Highway 370, turn left on NM Highway 456 back to Folsom.
From Folsom, Capulin Mountain is nine miles southwest on NM Highway 325, where you'll pass Twin Mountain red cinder rock quarry where Black Jack Ketchum was caught. Learning that train robbery was not a viable career option, he was hanged in Clayton, where his body still rests in the cemetery.

 

 

 

Mt. Capulin, new Mexico

Capulin Mountain. From the top you can see five states

 New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas,

 Photo Courtesy NM Film Office Library

 

The Capulin Volcano National Monument is the only volcano in the world where you can drive to the top and then walk down into the crater or hike the one-mile rim trail for a stunning panorama of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. The volcano was withdrawn from public entry in 1891, but was proclaimed a National Monument by President Wilson on August 9, 1916. It now has a visitor center, a bookstore and exhibits.

 

To the southeast of Capulin is Sierra Grande, the largest single mountain in the United States -- 40 miles around the base and covering 50 square miles. Capulin Volcano National Park closes its doors at 4:30 p.m. -- so try to get there by mid-afternoon at the latest. It's just a short trip to Capulin where one may find food and fuel and an RV camp, or from Folsom, it is eight miles to Des Moines for food, fuel and lodging.

 

Kenton, Oklahoma:

 

Up until 1890, there were no schools in what would become Cimarron County, in the Oklahoma Panhandle and only two communities and post offices -- in Mineral City, which claimed 98 inhabitants, and the other in Carrizo, which boasted some 83 people. Carrizo was established about a mile west of where Kenton would later be established. The boisterous little cowboy town was comprised of a general store and three saloons. A post office was established here on September 8, 1886. After the Panhandle was surveyed and organized, the store owner moved his store from Carrizo about one mile eastward and laid out 40 acres for a new townsite. Before long the saloons also moved, leaving nothing behind in what was Carrizo. The town was first called Florence, with a post office opening on April 19, 1890. This would last only for about a year, before it was renamedKentonn on May 12, 1891. Being the only town for miles, Kenton soon grew to a population of about 350 people.

 

Dry Cimarron Scenic Byway in Oklahoma

Dry Cimarron Scenic Byway in Oklahoma, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, September, 2009.

This image available for photographic prints & editorial downloads HERE!

 

Kenton, Oklahoma Mercantile

Kenton, Oklahoma is a semi-ghost town with only one open business,

Kathy Weiser, September, 2008.

This image available for photographic prints & editorial

downloads HERE!

 

 

Today, Kenton is mostly quiet, supporting about 17 residents, including just three children. Two of the children go to school in Clayton, New Mexico, the other to Boise City. Both places are about a 100-mile round trip to school and back every day.

 

There are just a few remaining businesses left in Kenton - one store called the "The Merc", the post office, which stands in a converted trailer house, a couple of churches, two bed and breakfasts and a guest ranch in the area.

 

 

Contact Information:

 

New Mexico Department of Tourism

491 Old Santa Fe Trail
PO Box 20002
Santa Fe,
New Mexico 87501

 

 

Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated May, 2013.

 

Dry Cimarron Scenic Byway Slideshow:

 

 

All images available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE!.

 

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