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“Construction of the Belen Cutoff”

Footpath by William Penner

Construction of the Belen Cutoff triggered significant population growth through homesteading and settlement in eastern New Mexico, an area where few people lived previously. The railroad provided jobs and access to national markets, making farming and ranching more viable.

We learn about past events from 1) oral stories, passed down from person to person; 2) primary sources, historical documents such as journals and letters; and 3) secondary sources, such as newspapers, maps, and literature.

This lesson features an oral story, two primary source documents (letters from railroad employees), and two secondary source documents (newspapers from the time of the railroad’s construction).


View imagery related to construction of the Belen Cutoff.


Read one or all of the selections related to construction of the Belen Cutoff.


Answer questions.

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