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HISTORY OF CIMARRONCITA

A SENSE OF TIME AND PLACE

Steeped in the Old West history of Colfax County, the wild town of Cimarron and the Santa Fe Trail, Cimarroncita nestles against and climbs up into the Sangre de Cristo range of the southern Rocky Mountains in northeastern New Mexico at the heart of the Cimarron Canyon between Taos and Raton.

Used by native american tribes for summer hunting grounds and by United States Cavalry for resting horses on its lush river pastures, by the late 1800's the land was placed within the vast Beaubien-Miranda-Maxwell Land Grant of Northeastern New Mexico. Development of the 1800s brought the railroad up into the Cimarron Canyon, and through Cimarroncita to Ute Park, serving the mining and lumber industries.


At the turn-of-the-century a wilderness tourist destination was established, with lodging, dining and dancing facilities constructed for patrons of the St. Louis, Rocky Mountain and Pacific Railway Excursion Line. Little remains today of the railroad through the Cimarron Canyon and Cimarroncita; in the 1940s the railroad was abandoned, the rails removed and used during WWII for manufacturing in support of the war effort. The buildings constructed in 1908, however, remained and today serve as the central heritage lodging and dining facilities of Cimarroncita. The past is present in these wonderful structures built more than 100 years ago and still in use today.

In 1930 the land and the historic buildings were acquired by Minnette Thompson where she established Cimarroncita Ranch Camp for Girls with its first season in summer 1931.

“Minnit” married Frank Burk in 1936 and together they developed and operated "CRC." Some ten years later Cimarroncita Ranch Camp for Boys was established on a separate nearby site with Sally Scurry as director. The Camps initially catered to campers from Texas, and swiftly built a reputation throughout the United States and abroad as one of the most elegant, exclusive and finest summer camps in the country.

CRC offered a broad range of activities, from horseback riding to ballet, and ensured that all campers had the times of their lives spending their summers enjoying the high country of New Mexico's fabled Cimarron Canyon. The cultural riches of New Mexico were always a focus, and included a thrilling season-opening campfire with the Dancers of the Taos Pueblo.

The CRC camps flourished for 65 years, under the direction of Minnette and Frank Burk, followed by the leadership of Mike and Joyce Burk. The camps were closed after the 1995 camp season.

Minnette and Frank Burk Joyce and Mike Burk

In the early years of the 21st century Minnette Burges, cousin and namesake of Cimarroncita founder Minnette Thompson Burk, with her husband and partner Alán Huerta, acquired Cimarroncita, honoring the history and integrity of this elegant outpost. They have preserved the land, restored the historic buildings, reinvented the use and created eco travel adventure and recreation opportunities for adults and families at Cimarroncita. Minnette and her family have been CRC campers and counselors for three generations, from the earliest beginnings in the 1930s to the last year of CRC operations in 1995.

This historic ranch retreat, imbued with its history and its unchanged beauty, offers memorable adventure vacations and unforgetable heritage lodging to families and adults through getaways and custom reunions. Activities include fly fishing, horseback adventure, nature expeditions, hiking and hunting. In addition, CRC former CRC campers and counselors have the opportunity to plan gatherings, to renew old friendships and enjoy once again the invigorating scent of Cimarroncita sage, sun-filled days on horseback and traditional evening campfires. See CRC Alumni page for more information.

The Cimarroncita Archives contain decades of memorabilia from Cimarroncita Ranch Camps, as well has other important historical materials of Northern New Mexico. The Archives are open to Cimarroncita guests and historians. The Cimarroncita Archives Project is an active undertaking dedicated to documenting the history of Cimarroncita through oral histories and related activites. We invite interested volunteers to contact us.

 

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