Grants - Uranium City
Greetings From Grants, New Mexico
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.
Where never before had land been posted as "No Trespassing,” it was now
posted with "Trespassers Will be Prosecuted or Shot.” Disputes between
landowners regarding mineral rights claims became common and local
attorneys had a field day.
The area uranium
reserves turned out to be one of the largest in the world and the
Grants boomed from some twelve hundred people to nearly twelve
industry developed about six thousand jobs and produced about 63 percent
of all the uranium mined in the United States.
The mining continued in full force until the 1982-83
recession forced the closing of the mines and the mills.
In the meantime, Cibola
County was created on June 19, 1981, from the westernmost four-fifths of
the formerly much larger Valencia County and Grants became the county
Though losing some of its
population when the mines closed, the city of Grants had
diversified its economy, so it continued to thrive.
probably used in a mining operation during
rush of the 1950s. Photo © 2000 by
Sign, Kathy Weiser, December, 2004.
This image available for
is a small town of just less than 9,000 residents. A growing tourist
destination, the town is favored for its fishing and boating at Bluewater
and Ramah lakes, its proximity to the
Ancient Puebloan ruins, and its outdoor
recreation in national monuments and forests.
enthusiast, several icons still appear including the Lariat Lodge,
Cafe founded in 1937, the Sands Motel, Lavaland Motel, the closed Lux
Movie Theatre and Trail Drive-In Theatre, and many more.
Grants old 66 is called Santa Fe Avenue.
A number of side trips present themselves from
Grants including the
just 12 miles southeast of Grants, and the Bandera Ice Caves, another 13
miles down the road.
Continue on down
Route 66 along
a 41-mile chunk to the
Continental Divide on your way to
New Mexico. And as always, Kick a little Asphalt along the way.
of America, updated April, 2017.
Route 66 in Grants, New Mexico, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2015.
This image available for
Wayside Motel, Grants, New Mexico, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2015.
This image available for
Legends' General Store
66 Postcard Coloring Book - If you love
Route 66, enjoy
coloring, and like to share with others, this book is for you! The Route
66 Postcard Coloring Book contains 20 postcards of various places along
America's Mother Road, each ready for your own artistic touch. Then after
you color, remove each and send as a postcard. Complete with stamp
placement on the back and information on each location. Or, keep your
finished work as a reminder of fun times traveling Route 66.