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“Community Formation on the Belen Cutoff”

Footpath by William Penner

Introduction
Many 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.

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