IntroductionMany communities in eastern New Mexico formed in response to construction of the Belen Cutoff and other rail lines. These settlements were successful for decades until drought, hard times, and improved railroad technologies changed the region’s fortunes.
Villages in eastern New Mexico formed for a variety of reasons. The residents describe their experiences and histories in different ways; however, many communities share similar reasons for their failure that reflect broad patterns of environmental and economic change in New Mexico.
View imagery related to community formation along the Belen Cutoff.
Read one or all of the selections related to community formation along the Belen Cutoff.
ObjectivesTo explain how New Mexico history represents a framework of knowledge and skills within which to understand the complexity of the human experience.
To demonstrate the ability to examine an aspect of history from the perspectives of the participants.
To include the use of primary and secondary sources in historical research.
To interpret events and issues based upon the historical, social, and geographic context of the participants.
To analyze the evolution of particular historical and contemporary perspectives.
To distinguish “facts” from authors’ opinions and evaluate an author’s implicit and explicit philosophical assumptions, beliefs, or biases about the subject.
StandardsNM Public Education Department, SS, grades 9-12, I-A5, I-D3, I-D5, I-D6, I-D7
Title: Fourth of July Parade In Mountainair
Author(s): Unknown (Photographer)
Description: Fourth of July Parade in Mountainair, New Mexico showing floats and business section of town. View looking west to the high school building. Three thousand people from the surrounding country attended this celebration.
Publisher: Photo engraved by McCormick Co. Photo-Engravers – Advertising Agents, Amarillo, Texas
Publication Date: 1937
Title: They Literally Danced All Night And Went Home In The Morning
Author(s): Richard Spencer (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)
Description: Richard Spencer talks about how the community of Eastview functioned during his grandfather’s time and the importance of local churches and schools.
Collection(s): Abo Canyon Second Track Project Oral Histories
Title: Musical group from Manzano, New Mexico
Description: A musical group from Manzano, New Mexico, performing during the Depression.
Publication Date: 1952
Collection(s): Gorden and Biddie McMath personal collection
Title: Main Street In Mountainair
Author(s): Dale (Photographer)
Description: Main Street, Mountainair, New Mexico. View to east along present day U.S. Highway 60.
Publication Date: Circa 1920
Collection(s): Jack Hewett personal collection
Title: You Fed Them And You Fed Them Well
Author(s): Martina Brazil Franklin (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)
Description: Martina Brazil Franklin remembers her father, a prominent local sheepman, and growing up in the village of Scholle, New Mexico.
Title: Hauling Beans to Market
Description: Hauling beans to market in Mountainair, New Mexico.
Publication Date: Unknown
Collection(s): Dorothy Cole personal collection.
Title: They Used To Steal The Comanchita And Take Her To One Of The Reyes’ Houses
Author(s): Polly Sisneros (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)
Description: Polly Sisneros recalls the dances and religious celebrations and ceremonies that occurred in Scholle and the surrounding areas.
Title: Square Dance At The Community Center In Mountainair, New Mexico
Description: Square Dance At The Community Center In Mountainair, New Mexico.
Title: Canuto Sisneros and Gang
Author(s): Unknown (Photographer)
Description: Scholle residents posing for a photograph following their return from World War I. Individuals from left to right are: José Sisneros, Juan Ballejos, Canuto M. Sisneros, and Eligio Salas.
Publication Date: 1920
Title: The Railroad Made It, And The Railroad Destroyed It
Author(s): Bill Pohl (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)
Title: Scholle: A Portrait of a Railroad Community
Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight; William Penner
Description: A brief history of Scholle, New Mexico, a railroad community on the Belen Cutoff.
Publication Date: 2009
Title: Construction of the Belen Cutoff
Description: A brief history of the construction of the Belen Cutoff and its effects.
Title: Teamster Packing a Mule in Abo Canyon
Description: Teamster packing a mule in front of a tent in Abo Canyon.
Publisher: Kansas State Historical Society
Publication Date: Circa 1903 to 1907
Collection(s): Kansas State Historical Society; Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Corporate Collections
Catalog Number: AT
Title: Pecos River Bridge Piers Under Construction
Description: Concrete piers, wood plank forms, and falsework being used to construct the Pecos River bridge.
Publication Date: Circa 1905 to 1906
Title: Settlement and Homesteading in East-Central New Mexico
Description: A brief history of settlement and homesteading in east-central New Mexico.
Title: Breaking Ground
Description: Breaking ground with a two-horse team near Broncho, New Mexico.
Title: Working With Mule Teams
Description: Men working with mule teams breaking ground along the Belen Cutoff near Mountainair, New Mexico. Railroad tracks and telegraph line are visible in right of frame.