Yankee Mining Camp, Colfax County, New Mexico Genealogy

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Location:                      8 miles northeast of Raton, 1 mile from Sugarite.  The location was in a beautiful valley on the east fork of the Sugarite canyon, at the mouth of Brown's Pocket Canyon on the old Governor Francis property which was purchased by the Chicorica Company. It came to be on the west end of the Santa Fe, Raton, and Eastern Railroad. The line no longer exists. The town was surrounded on one side by Johnson Mesa and on the other side by Barela Mesa.

GPS:                             Latitude: 36.9450 N;     Longitude: -104.3280 W.

Elevation:                      7,051 feet (2,149 meters)

Map:                            Interactive Map.

Photos:                        Ruins of the Ensign House, c. 1974; The Yankee Baseball Team, 1907, listing the following persons: Usen, Errington, Schemp, Grab Crabtree, Shipley, Turner, Dincan, Merrow, Jefferies, Leason Catoner, Southne, Mascot Schempp; Snowbound at the Yankee station, 1912. On page 235, Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of New Mexico by James and Barbara Sherman.

Post Office:                  Established June 22,1906, discontinued 1922.  


Census Data:               No enumeration on 1900 US Census.


For many years prior to the development of the Yankee camp, farmers from nearby Johnson Mesa dug coal on the slopes of the mesa for their domestic use. In 1904 a duel investment venture was launched to develop the coal beds in Johnson and Barela Mesas, and a branch line of Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad was extended from Raton up the east fork of Sugarite Canyon, connecting the new mines to the main line.

The Chicorica Coal Company, backed by the Wall Street Brokerage form of E.D. Sheppard and Co., and the Santa Fe, Raton, Eastern Railroad, promoted by A.D. Ensign, went forward with their developement, and a small net camp of Yankee began to grow. The town name "Yankee" was given by the New York members of the Chicorica Coal Company about 1905. As eastern investors of the railroad poured money into the town and the Yankee mines continued to develop, frame houses and neatly painted business establishments stabilized the town.The houses in the camp were white and the roofs were green. In 1907 the population of Yankee and immediate vicinity claimed 2,000 residents. Several businesses including a post office, 3 boarding  houses, a bakery, amusement hall, Mercantile store, hospital, a fuel company, a justice of the peace, grade school, provided for the needs of the miners and their families.

A.D. Ensign built a beautiful 2 story, 2 fireplace, green roofed home in Sugarite Canyon, at Carrisbrock, about 3 miles west of Yankee, the "Ensign Ranch" was a show place of solid mahogany and velvet furniture, oriental rugs, marble statues. it overlooked spacious grounds of apple and cherry orchards. Major R. Lawrence, acquired the guest ranch shortly after it was built, using it as a residence and center of entertainment until the beginning of World War I. The Ensign estate changed hands several times, and by 1923 its treasures had been sold and the mansion fell into a state of ruin.

In 1907 it was said that the coal in Yankee was of superior quality and no better coal was mined west of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The US mine inspector estimated that one of three seams had 240 million tons at a thickness more than six feet. The other seams being located within 100 feet, and are nearly horizontal. He showed that the Yankee coke was better than the one from Pittsburg. The mine had 4 entrances. In 1909 it produced 17,748 tons, a decrease of 13,886,23 tons from the previous year. Number of days tehe mine operated in the year was 160; average number of men employed underground, 40; average number of men employed outside, 9. This was reduced to 15 miners because there was air intake through 3 openings, rooms were insufficiently timbered, dangerous roof, and no fire in the furnace. By 1910 the air intake could not be measured accurately due to cave-ins. With the air returned to the furnace, 28 miners,5 company men and 9 mules were employed. The 4 Yankee mines were Llewellyn, Sperry, Honeyfield and Turner. The nearby coalbeds are known as Metcalf, Kellogg and Reynolds.

The peak of Yankee's prosperity lasted until World War I. The good years were highlighted with its baseball team, excursion train rides to Raton, the Amusement Hall with its bowling alley and billiard tables, picnics, contests, dances. Visitors came from Trinidad, Sopris, Cunningham, Lynn, Johnson Mesa, Colfax, Colmor, Miami, Sugarite, Briliant, Gardiner, Van Houten, and Dawson, to enjoy weekends and excursions in the summer months. Wednesday evening was movie night and Saturday night was dance night at the Amusement Hall. An excursion train left Raton every Sunday morning. In February 1912, the camp was snowbound. It took the train two days to travel the 9 miles to Raton.

A baseball club was formed that competed with Blossburg, Koehler, Trinidad, Starkville and other surrounding towns. During the years before WW I, it was one of the better teams of the area. Because the area had several nearby lakes (Carlsbrook, St. Moritz, Silver Planet, Maloya, Alice, Comfer and Dorothy) the Raton Ice Company was formed, a business that was stimulated by the building of the railroad spurs giving them easy access to markets.

In 1914 the LLewellyn, Sperry, Honeyfield, and Turner coal mines closed down, and by 1915 the population was recorded as 300. In 1917, the Superior Coal Company obtained operating leases on several of the mines, rebuilt several inclined shafts, and began supplying coal to the railroads. This rebirth of Yankee was greatly welcomed, but the few prosperous years that followed never compared to the pre war days. The operation was not able to compete with its relatively larger competitors in Koehler, Brilliant, Van Houten and Gardiner and the replacement of the steam engine by oil burning machines.

Yankee began to close its mines during the early 1920's, but the ideal location for living and the proximity to other producing mines encouraged many families to remain. Cappital failed and Yankee was involved in laws suits through the years. In 1940, the population was stated as 148.

All traces of Yankee coal mining camp have vanished, and the site is now occupied by a cattle ranch. A short distance up Sugarite Canyon on a low knoll, the abandoned ruins of the Ensign mansion overlook the valley.

Family History Links:

1. Family surnames mentioned in The Grant that Maxwell Bought by F. Stanley, pages 215-216: Boyle, Brown, Drake, Edmonds, Errington, Genta, Getchell, Gumm, Hague, Jeffies, Lawther, Leason, Merrow, Miler, Roberts, Stockton, Weimer.

2. Alva H. Coop married Gladys Cosner. Item 631 of the Castner family tree.

3. M. Demshak, school president. Colorado School Directory 1919-1920, page 88.

4. Roy Gilbert, Peter Wallace - Elizabeth Woods family tree, page 48.

5. Harvey Lockhart Handley, background resume. page xix.

6. Valentine Maschio, New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources Report of the Inspector of the Mines 1945-1949, 1947 page 47. Google Books. 
7.  Harold D. Myers, Colorado and its People, Volume 4, page 649.

8. Frank Joseph Serna Jr., family group.

9. Samuel Sproule and Annie Kingston Sproule, Eva M. Sproule the Raton War Years page 88-90.

10. John Farvis Turner and Margaret May Davies Turner, Eva Sproule the Raton War Years, page 88-90.

11. For an alphabetic list of 86 persons listed in The Yankee Story by Father Stanley, click here

1. Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of New Mexico, by James E. and Barbara Sherman. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 1974.

2. The Grant that Maxwell Bought by F. Stanley, page 215-216. (Family surnames mentioned: Boyle, Brown, Drake, Edmonds, Errington, Genta, Getchell, Gumm, Hague, Jeffies, Lawther, Leason, Merrow, Miler, Roberts, Stockton, Weimer).  Google Books.

3. Annual Report of the Mine Inspector for the Territory of New Mexico, by the United States Mine Inspector of the United States to the Secretary of the Interior, Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1907. pages 5-23. Google Books.

4. Congressional Serial Set, Issue 6223, by the US Government Printing Office. pages 751-763. Record of inspections, pages 761-762. Google Books.

5. The Yankee, New Mexico Story by Father Stanley, July 1964, 20 pages. Worldcat