Blossburg Mining Camp, Colfax County, New Mexico Genealogy
Location: 5 miles northwest of Raton. From I-25 in Raton, take US64/Clayton Road west to
Second Street. It turns into Tiger Drive/Gardner Road/State Route 476. Go straight
west, do not turn. It is before Dillon Canyon Road.
GPS: Latitude: 36.9092 N; Longitude: -104.4908 W.
Elevation: 6,781 feet (2.067 meters)
Map: Interactive Map.
Photos: Coal Mining camp, circa 1900., The Blossburg Band, and Dr. James Shuler; page16-17; Blossburg school children and teachers in front of the General Store; Swastika Fuel Company advertisement, p.155;
Post Office: Established 1881, discontinued 1905. After, mail went to Gardiner.
Census Data: 1900 Census
Coal deposits had been known in the area since 1820. This mine openned up in 1881, and established the first coal mining community in Colfax County. Colonel Edward Savage named it for his home town Blossburg, Pennsylvania. Ed Savage was the mine boss. At its peak, it claimed over 1,000 residents.
The Blossburg coal mine is located up Dillon Creek in Dillon Canyon, locally known as Brilliant Canyon. Promoters of the town, called it the "Pittsburg of the West". It was jointly owned by the Raton Coal and Coking Company and the Santa Fe Railroad. Blossburg boomed for a dozen years. During its lifetime, it had the usual tragedies of a western mining camp: W.J.Cowan while drinking heavily threatened the saloon owner, Holland, the fight ended his life; John "Jack" Jones fatally stabbed George Wagstaff at MacArthur's Saloon. There was a flood on April 20, 1886, and there were some bad fires and mine accidents.
The critical year for Blossburg was 1894. An explosion in the town's mine killed 5 men and injured 3 others. A few months later, a strike closed the mine. Never again did Blossburg enjoy full production and prosperity. A new mine opened up in 1896, in the town of Gardiner, 2 miles south of Blossburg. The Blossburg #3 mine explosion on June 19, 1903. killed 5. Only 100 persons lived there by 1903. The Dutchman Mine in Blossburg, had a mine explosion on October 5, 1906, that killed 10. The population was 20 by 1939.
At its peak the town boasted: the usual saloons and stores, a school, Catholic and Methodist Churches, the Blossburg Band, and a newspaper, "The Blossburg Pioneer". It was first issued January 21, 1882. There was no town doctor. Dr. James Jackson Shuler made the trip daily, from Raton to Blossburg to minister to the sick. Emergencies often arose, requiring immediate attention. As a result, the first telephone in Colfax County connected Blossburg's Smith Store to the Raton home and office of Dr. Shuler.
New coal strikes shifted attention up the canyon to Brilliant. As demand for coal faded, so did the community, it was abandoned and is now in ruins. Farming and ranching became the livelihood of the people that remained.
It is now part of Vermejo Park Ranch owned by Ted Turner and is a private gated property and a hunting reserve. You can no longer visit the site, unless you have premission. Many of the existing structures or ruins were bulldozed. Ted Turner has reclaimed the land to its original state. Some of the old coke ovens for Gardiner may be viewed from the Raton golf course, but that's as close as you will probably get. It's not uncommon to find bears at these locations. You would need 4 wheel drive , although the road is in fairly good condition and is regraded by the property owner who lives at the top of the canyon. You will have to make it through several posted and locked gates however.
Family History Links:
1. Alonzo Bell, Anderson V.2 page 708
2. Rudolph and Martha (Krobst) Brunelli family.
3. George Honeyfield, Anderson V.2 page 703.
4. David Howarth Mercantile Store, Anderson V.2, page 698
5. Henry "Harry" James and Ida (Clark) Rodda family.
6. Frederick and Charles Rohr Meat Market, Anderson V.2 page 698-699.
7. Hugh H. Smith, Anderson V.2 page 706
8. John Henry Towndrow plus photo, Anderson V.2 page 702
9. William Walter Vanderford
10. For an alphabetic list of 114 persons mentioned in the The Blossburg Story, click here.
1. Business Directory Listing, 1896.
1. Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of New Mexico, by James E. and Barbara Sherman. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 1974.
2. History of New Mexico: its resources and people, Volume 2. by George B. Anderson. Pacific States Publishing Company. Google books
3. A Complete Business Directory of New Mexico and Gazeteer of the Territory by William Ritch and Edgar Caypless.
4. The Grant that Maxwell Bought by F. Stanley, page 225. Google Books.
5. The Denver Public Library in its Western History Photograph Collection has an undigitized folder for Blossburg
6. The Blossburg, New Mexico Story by Father Stanley, March 1962, 20 page pamphlet. Worldcat.org