Eastern Mojave Vegetation New Mexico State Road 161  
 

Tom Schweich  

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 State Road 161 (NM 161) is a 31.902-mile-long (51.341 km) state highway in northeastern New Mexico. NM 161 begins in the west at its junction with NM 518 several miles south of the unincorporated community of La Cueva. The road travels southeast through remote, sparsely populated land before reaching a junction with Interstate 25 (I-25) south of Watrous. From there, the road turns northeast and briefly parallels I-25 before cutting back to the northwest, where it intersects I-25 again, then continues north for roughly seven miles before terminating at Fort Union National Monument. Shortly before reaching Fort Union, NM 161 crosses the former path of the Santa Fe Trail which is still visible as a broad, shallow ditch or low spot in the terrain.

   

Buena Vista

Junction: New Mexico State Road 518

Other articles:
• US Interstate 25:   at Exit 364;  

Junction: US Interstate 25

 

Locations: Watrous.  

Watrous

 
  Cross Sapello River

Other articles:
• Field Notes:   26 Apr 2021;

Locations: Mora River.
Full Size ImageMora River at Watrous.  

Cross Mora River

Other articles:
• US Interstate 25:   at Exit 366;  

Junction: US Interstate 25

Other articles:
• Field Notes:   26 Apr 2021;
Full Size ImageWagon ruts of the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail
Full Size ImageA New Community Sprouts Roots.  

Wagon ruts interpretive panels.

A New Community Sprouts Roots
The low line of trees to the south marks La Junta (the junction) of the Mora and Sapello Rivers. It is also known as La Junta because its location is where the Cimarron and Mountain Branches of the Santa Fe Trail join

Arriving with the U. S. military and Fort Union, American merchants and Protestant missionaries founded Tiptonville on the Santa Fe Trail near La Junta (renamed Watrous after the srrival of the railroad). Tiptonville became an important western staging area for the Santa Fe Trail, serving much the same function as Council Grove, Kansas, at its eastern end.

Travelers met here to exchange information on trail conditions, water resources, and dangers along the trail. For eastbound wagon trains, Tiptonville was an important place to weight the merits of the faster Cimarron Branch of the Santa Fe Trail against the 100-mile longer Mountain Branch.

The increasing numbers of Angle settlers, missionaries, and merchants, along with the establishment of Fort Union, hastened the process of “Americanization” of the former Native American ancestral homelands and Mexican Territories.

  View of Fort Union

Other articles:
• Field Notes:   26 Apr 2021;

Locations: Wolf Creek.
Full Size ImageWolf Creek, near Fort Union.  

Cross Wolf Creek
Full Size Image
Wolf Creek, near Fort Union; Fort Union in the distance.

 

 

Other articles:
• Field Notes:   26 Apr 2021;

Locations: Fort Union.
Full Size ImageThe hospital at Fort Union.  

Fort Union National Monument

Full Size Image
Wagon yard at Fort Union.
Full Size Image
Townsendia exscapa at Fort Union.
 

 

 

   

Literature Cited

  A list of all literature cited by this web site can be found in the Bibliography.
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Date and time this article was prepared: 9/22/2021 6:05:23 PM