Frontier personalities such as Kit Carson and Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley, Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday, Butch Cassidy and Jesse James, painter Frederic Remington and novelist Zane Grey all passed through and stayed in Cimarron -- most of them at the St. James Hotel. Even if you're not planning an overnight stay here, it's a fun place to visit for an hour or two.
Land baron Lucien Maxwell founded the town in 1848 as the base of operations for his 1.7-million-acre empire. In 1857, he built a mansion at his Maxwell Ranch, furnishing it opulently with heavy draperies, gold-framed paintings, and two grand pianos. The ranch isn't open for viewing today, but Maxwell's 1864 stone gristmill, built to supply flour to Fort Union, is. The Old Mill Museum (tel. 575/376-2417), a grand, three-story stone structure that's well worth visiting, houses an interesting collection of early photos, as well as memorabilia including a saddle that belonged to Kit Carson. It's open in May and September, Saturday from 10am to noon and 1 to 5pm, and Sunday from 1 to 5pm; Memorial Day to Labor Day, Friday through Wednesday from 10am to noon and 1 to 5pm. It's closed October through April. Admission is by donation. Ask for a historic walking-tour map at the Old Mill Museum.
A block north of US 64, look for a few historic buildings housing shops. In particular check out the Cimarron Art Gallery, 337 E. 9th St. (tel. 575/376-2614), which has a 1937 soda fountain, and offers ice cream, flavored coffees, as well as jewelry, sculptures, and a huge selection of Boy Scout badges. Another good stop is Blue Moon Eclectics, 333 E. 9th St. (tel. 575/376-9040), selling artful pottery, jewelry, books, and knives. Down the street, stop in at the studio of L. Martin Pavletich, 428 E. 9th St. (tel. 575/376-2871; www.lmartinpavletich.com), to see colorful landscape paintings of the region.
Cimarron is the gateway to the Philmont Scout Ranch (tel. 575/376-2281; www.philmont.com), a 137,500-acre property donated in pieces, beginning in 1938, to the Boy Scouts of America by Texas oilman Waite Phillips. Scouts from all over the world use the ranch for backcountry camping and leadership training in the summer and for conferences the remainder of the year. Even if you have no interest in scouting you'll want to visit the elegant Villa. It and two other museums on the ranch are open to the public.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.