“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Watrous in Mora County, New Mexico — The American Mountains (Southwest)

La Junta

Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway

La Junta Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 23, 2015
1. La Junta Marker
Inscription.  For westbound travelers, camping here in this green river valley meant that their journey on the Santa Fe Trail was almost over. For travelers headed east it represented a decision, for the trail split here into two very different adventures. The Cimarron Route was shorter but featured hotter terrain and scarce water. The northerly Mountain Route had more water but led a treacherous path over Raton Pass.

The Mountain Route was safer from Indian raids but the Cimarron Route was substantially quicker. The two branches rejoined at the Arkansas River in present-day Kansas. Most travelers used the Cimarron Route.

La Junta
First called La Junta (the junction) for the joining of two small rivers, the Sapello and the Mora, this small settlement was later renamed in honor of pioneer farmer and merchant Samuel B. Watrous. His store, built to serve Santa Fe Trail travelers, is to your right. When Fort Union was built in 1851, only eight miles away, it dramatically increased the traffic into the small town and encouraged settlement of the area.

On the Road
In August of 1846, General Stephen Watts Kearny
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and his troops camped here two days prior to traveling to Las Vegas, 20 miles to the southwest, and proclaiming New Mexico as part of the United States.

Trail Sites Nearby
Las Vegas, New Mexico
The well-preserved trail-era town of Las Vegas is home to the Las Vegas Citizens' Committee for Historic Preservation which has interesting exhibits on the Santa Fe Trail.

Fort Union National Monument
Fort Union protected the western end of the trail and supplied both military units and private caravans. The last fort on the site, built in 1863, is now in ruins, but a visitor center and interpretive trail describe the history of the once-bustling fort.

Wagon Mound
This landmark can be seen for miles and signaled to the westbound trail travelers that they were only twelve days from Santa Fe.
Erected by Santa Fe Trail Scenic Byway.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRoads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Santa Fe Trail series list.
Location. 35° 48.045′ N, 104° 58.869′ W. Marker is in Watrous, New Mexico, in Mora County. Marker is on New Mexico Route 161, 0.6 miles
Marker detail: Sante Fe Trail Map image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Sante Fe Trail Map
Here the Santa Fe Trail splits. The Mountain Branch made its way north over Raton Pass and the Cimarron Route let east across the flatter prairie. The two trails reconnected in Kansas.
south of CanAm Highway (Interstate 25), on the left when traveling south. Marker is located in a pull-out overlooking the Watrous Valley Ranch property. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2286 New Mexico Highway 161, Watrous NM 87753, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Watrous - Western Junction of the Santa Fe Trail (approx. 0.6 miles away); Watrous (approx. 1˝ miles away); A New Community Sprouts Roots (approx. 2.6 miles away); Intersection of History (approx. 2.6 miles away); From Indigenous Trail to International Highway (approx. 2.6 miles away); A Show of Strength (approx. 3.2 miles away); Tides of Change (approx. 3.2 miles away); Lasting View (approx. 3.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Watrous.
Regarding La Junta. National Register of Historic Places #66000480.
Also see . . .
1. Samuel Watrous Ranch House & Store. Around 1849, Samuel B. Watrous and his family settled in La Junta. He built a huge ranch house and store at the junction of the Mora and Sapello Rivers. The house itself was described as a “fort-like” adobe with twenty rooms ringing a large interior patio and courtyard. One end of this one-story, territorial style building contained the store and two massive storerooms. Watrous eventually amassed
La Junta Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 23, 2015
3. La Junta Marker
(Watrous Valley Ranch in background)
large herds of cattle and ample grazing land just north of the Mora River. He sold and traded what his ranch produced with local residents, travelers along the Santa Fe Trail, and to troops at nearby Fort Union. (Submitted on April 25, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Watrous, New Mexico (Wikipedia). Watrous, also named La Junta, is a National Historic Landmark District near Watrous, New Mexico. It encompasses the historic junction point of the two major branches of the Santa Fe Trail, a major 19th-century frontier settlement route between St. Louis, Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. La Junta, marked this junction point, as well as the first major indications of civilization before westbound travelers reached Santa Fe. (Submitted on April 25, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Samuel Watrous Ranch House & Store image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 23, 2015
4. Samuel Watrous Ranch House & Store
(located just south of marker)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 3, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 25, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 307 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on April 25, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Apr. 20, 2024