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edmund j. kowalski | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Colfax New Mexico 1976-1979 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Colfax New Mexico 1976-1979

These images were captured between 1976 and 1979. Cameras were a Kodak Instamatic 100 and a Kodak Instamatic X-35. Film was cartridge 126. Location was the true ghost town of Colfax, New Mexico, on Vermejo River (mostly dry), along road between Raton and Cimarron, maybe 12 miles east of Cimarron. There was nothing much else between Raton and Cimarron except high plains and a few mesas.
When the RR came through at Raton Pass late 1800s and down into Santa Fe, they needed fuel. Fair sized deposits of coal were discovered in Colfax County (named after a vice president of the USA) and a RR spur was laid for delivery.... where the rails ended, the town of Colfax sprang up like mushrooms after a heavy rain. It grew so fast, they needed housing for workers in a hurry, so they brought in "mobile homes"..... rail cars, set up as bunkhouses.They also erected a lot of adobe structures and conventional frame buildings, including a fair sized general store/hotel. A rather nice schoolhouse was built at the top of a grassy knoll. The coal I guess played out, the town got smaller through the Great Depression,and the last person moved out about 1940 and left the town vacant.... this I know from firsthand report, having met an older woman who had grown up in Colfax and left. She saw my paintings at the Santa Fe Fiesta street fair in the late 1970s.
I first saw the town when driving through there with my sister on our way to Santa Fe in 1976.
I stopped there on several subsequent treks through the area over the next few years and did lots of photos on site. Each visit, I could see that the town had changed. By the third visit, someone had raized the big hotel/general store. Besides photos, one trip we also shot a Super 8 color movie of ourselves, in the buildings and on the "streets" of Colfax. Yes, we still have the movie. All images displayed in this gallery are now 2005 E.J.Kowalski.
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