Catskill Mining Camp, Colfax County, New Mexico Genealogy

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Location: Take 555/York Canyon Road northeast from Raton through Vermejo Park about 30 miles, along the River. Can only be reached with a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
GPS: Latitude: 36.9398 N; Longitude: -104.8072 W
Elevation: 7,894 feet (2,406 meters)
Map: Interactive Map.
Photos: Red Brick ovens, Grocery List, Timber Company advertisement, Catskill Ladies Band, view, Herman Johnson headstone, cemetery fence: pp.35.37 ; Catskill from the East with Snowy Range, Stanley.p.2;
Post Office: Established 1890, discontinued in 1905. After, mail to Sopris, Colorado.
Cemetery: cemetery in Caliente Canyon, Interactive Map
Census Data: 1900 Census


The lumber camp of Catskill began in the summer of 1890 when the Maxwell Land Grant platted the town and leased the land for lumbering. It was settled by a group of lumbermen under the company management of H.G. Frankenburger. Soon five major sawmills were operating, along with two groups of beehive charcoal ovens. A railroad line was brought in from Trinidad, Colorado. The growing settlement was named by C.E. Meek, the manager for the railroad. He named the town for the Catskill Mountains near his hometown in New york State.

Soon boarding houses and businesses mushroomed. During the boom years 30-50 flatcar loads of lumber were shipped daily. The charcoal that was shipped was in such great demand that 3,000 cords of wood were burned daily in the Catskill ovens.

As the town grew, Catskill citizens saw the necessity of a school. Bill Wilder, Bill Cotton, and Bill Butler called a meeting at Butler's Livery Stable. It was decided that the Blithen and Wilder Mills would furnish lumber for the school, Butler's Livery would haul it, and Colonel Dick Cunn's store would supply the hardware. The schoolhouse opened its doors to 20 students. By the following year, the enrollment tripled. Mr. Jones, the first teacher, found the students to be more than he could handle and fled after the first month. The next teacher was Chip Chapman.

The Women's Christian Temperance Union was responsible for the church. They gave benefits to raise funds to erect a church, which was non-denominational, and was open to any sect that wanted to hold services. They invited a parson, Rev. Lucas, to preach. He was so popular that the saloons were closed for an hour so that the bartenders and gamblers could attend.

On July 24, 1896, there was a flash flood that destroyed 15 miles of railroad track, 7 miles had washed away, and 25 bridges were partially destroyed. Large amounts of lumber washed away. The Newton Sawmill was partially damaged. No one drowned. The town recovered quickly. Some of the businesses were: stores, saloons, 4 hotels (The Brett, The Gillum, The Southern, and the Fuller), a pool hall (Joe Fowler's), a blacksmith, a justice of the peace, a Western Union Telegragh, telephone connections, and the La Belle Stage Company.

Catskill is remembered as a fun loving place, where any event would occasion a celebration, in spite of the few murders scattered through its history. The town boasted: a 22 piece band, an 8 piece orchestra, a race course, a picnic ground, dance pavilion, and a ball park. During the summer months, trainloads of excursion parties would arrive from Trinidad to have a good time. The 4th of July always drew crowds.

By the turn of the century, local timber was becoming scarce. In January 1902, the The Colorado and Southern Railway tracks were pulled up. The lumber people closed up and left. Some of the residents tried to substitute stock raising for lumbering. Eventually even this activity ceased, and the town died.

On the fringes of the meadow, there are a few surviving relics: some wooden buildings, a cluster of red brick walls, a couple of stone foundations. There is a small cemetery on the western slope about 3/4 mile north of Catskill. It contains three rockwalled graves, one picket fenced grave, and another 5-6 unidentified mounds. East of Catskill beside the Canadian River are a row of 10 perfectly preserved red brick charcoal ovens.

While Catskill was once very easily accessible by rail, now it can only be reached with a four wheel vehicle.

Family History Links:

  • David Henry Barker, journal stories, demise in 1890 over a dog dispute.
  • Frederick C. Biebush, b.1896, married Irma Hawkins 28 Mar 1927, Quantico Virginia. Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940.
  • Jose Serafin Brito, born April 26, 1895, Jose Vivian Brito b. 24 June 1893, Jose Casimiro Brito b. 27 Sep. 1896, family tree.
  • Sebastian Cruz, family tree 
  • Heber Gavin, page 255, Progressive Men of Western Colorado by AW Bowen,1905. Google Books. Pitkin County biography.  
  • James T.Gibbons, Nolan page 308. 
  • Lafayette Giles married to Mary Robson Batie, died in 1892 in Catskill
  • L.P. Gray died February 15, 1895, obituary March 6, 1895, Douglas County.
  • Dora Edna Kinney, born August 12, 1894, family tree, married Richard Morton Turnbull
  • John and Cynthia Lillie, Timeline.
  • Lena Ann Mackey, b.8 Mar 1900, marriage to George Chisholm 25 Nov 1915, El Paso Co. Texas,  Texas Marriages 1837-1973.
  • Manuel Conrado Martinez, b. 25 December 1864, family tree, and more. biography. Family Tree. photo, New Mexico State Historian.
  • I.N. McDougall and Emma Jones Orton McDougall, obituary February 16, 1913
  • A.S. Neff, Anderson V.2 page 693-694, Google Books
  • L.S. Preston, biography, school teacher. page 690, History of New Mexico: Its resources and people. Google Books.
  • Frank Savage, Arrival 16 Nov 1899, New York Passenger Arrival List, Ellis Island 1892-1924
  • S.H. Wolcott, , cattleman fleeced of $600 in Denver gambling hall.
  • Alphabetic list of 124 people mentioned in the Catskill New Mexico Story, click here.

1. Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of New Mexico, by James E. and Barbara Sherman. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 1974.

2. History of New Mexico: Its resources and people. Volume 2. Google Books.

3. Tascosa: Its life and gaudy times by Frederick W Nolan, page 308. Google Books

4. The Denver Public Library in its Western History Photograph Collection has an undigitized folder for Catskill.

5. Letter J.M. Waldron of Catskill,New Mexico to M.P. Pels, Raton, NM 27 October 1892, Schomburg Collection, University of New Mexico Library.

6. The Catskill, New Mexico Story, by Father Stanley, February 1964, 20 pages.