It was built in 1867 by Tom Stockton, a rancher, using materials and furnishings brought overland from Dodge City, Kansas. Also called the Red River Station and Red River Hotel, the two-story building was made of adobe and had a raised half-story basement. There was a veranda supported by Doric posts along the building’s front and sides, which created a promenade balcony on the second floor. Interior features included a large parlor, sleeping rooms with fireplaces, and a high-ceilinged dining room.
The site first served as headquarters for cattle roundups and gained a post office in 1869. In the 1870s, the building was leased for a Barlow-Sanderson Stage Line station, which added a blacksmith shop and stables. When it served as a stage stop, cooks and waiters were hired to take care of the guests. At some point, a trading post and saloon were incorporated. The area around the hotel grew into a small settlement known as Clifton.
For a brief period of time, Clifton House was the headquarters for the English company that purchased the Maxwell Land Grant from Lucien B. Maxwell in 1870.
On January 6, 1874, the Clifton House was the site of a gunfight between two gunfighters Clay Allison and Chunk Colbert, in which Colbert was killed. Previously, the local sheriff accidentally killed a waiter at the hotel while trying to apprehend Colbert.
When the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad arrived in Otero, two miles to the north in March 1879, stage service on the Santa Fe Trail ceased. The same year, the post office closed, and before long, the Clifton House was abandoned. An arsonist destroyed it in 1885.
Today, all that is left of this once busy stop is part of an adobe wall and scattered foundation stones. It is located on private ranch land adjacent to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad tracks.
The site is located at mile marker 344 of U.S. Route 64, just off exit 446 on Interstate 25.
Sources: See Santa Fe Trail Site Map & Writing Credits