"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, March 26, 2012

To the northwest tip of No Man's Land

One foot in New Mexico, one foot in Oklahoma, with my finger on a little plastic bottle sitting in three states, looking straight west, camera on the hood of my car part in Colorado and part in Oklahoma.
If you travel to Cimarron County, to the tip of the panhandle of what was "No Man's Land," and get off on a dirt road, you can come to America's Three Corners--where New Mexico, Colorado and Oklahoma meet. An unassuming little monument marks the spot in a desolate land of few people and wide open spaces.

A few miles south the land opens up to the Great Plains where the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail angled southwest out of what was the United States and into the Republic of Mexico. I found this marker on a gravel road, just across the line in New Mexico, looking southwest toward the landmark old volcano Rabbit Ear Peaks, just visible on the horizon between the sign and the tree, north of where Clayton, N.M. is now.
No, I'd never heard of this spot either. Here I am, car in Oklahoma, me in New Mexico. Nothing in Mexoma but a church, ruined houses,  and a cemetery. I covered many miles that day, and couldn't help but think about those wagons on the Santa Fe Trail where 10 miles would be a good day.


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