Like most places in
was first home to the
who established an advanced civilization in Chaco Canyon to the north
of present day
in the 12th century.
long abandoned area changed when the railroad made plans to extend its
lines from the east. The first resident of the region was Don
Jesus Blea, who owned the contracts for the railroad and established
his home in 1872 on the southern side of San Jose Creek. He
called his new "settlement” Alamitos (Little Cottonwoods.)
brothers by the names of Angus, Lewis and John Grant were contracted
to build the Atlantic
and Pacific Railroad through the region,
establishing base camps during their work westward. In 1881 the
railroad reached Alamitos and the settlement became a coaling station.
Before the railroad came through, only three or four Hispanic
families lived in the area, primarily making their livings at
ranching. When the trains arrived, so did the
rapid development of
as a tent city sprang up on the west side of town, sheltering
thousands of railroad workers.
Soon, the settlement’s name was changed to Grant’s Camp after the
three brothers who had built the railroad.
Before long, an entrepreneur named Simon Bibo
purchased 160 acres from
Jesús Blea and built a store and hotel. He also
sold much of the property to other businessmen and in no time, several
other businesses sprang up along the near the railroad tracks.
During the late
1800's, the area surrounding Grant's
Camp had an abundance of water which enticed many homesteaders to farm
the region. Others grazed cattle and sheep on nearby ranches or
took advantage of the plentiful logging opportunities.
In 1882, the post office was established
with the name of Grants,
but the population continued to call the settlement Grant’s Camp. Later when the Railroad Station was built, that changed to Grant’s
Station and in 1936, the town’s official name was changed to plain
Though remaining mostly a quiet farming community, Grants took
advantage of the many travelers who came through town when
Route 66 was built. Motels and services soon opened right up
against the railroad tracks, many of which still operate today.
1950, a local rancher named Paddy Martinez found an odd yellow rock in the
nearby Haystack Mountains ten miles west of town. Soon, the rock was
found to be uranium which created a booming economy in the area when the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission began to mine the valuable ore. It also
started a fever among the locals as many invested in Geiger counters and
took to the hills.