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Before the first mile of highway in the New Mexico Territory was paved, railroad tracks, laid by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, crossed Raton Pass in 1879. With the coming of the railroad, the pace of development, commerce, and immigration into New Mexico accelerated.

The town of Colfax, established in 1908 at the intersection of two rail lines in Colfax County, was planned by founders to serve as a market center and a shipping point. Although it once boasted a store and a hotel, by 1982 when a realignment of US 64 was being planned, Colfax had reverted to a cow pasture.

The railroad provided residents of New Mexico with access to goods from across the nation. Commerce reached farther into the hinterlands and numerous trading posts were established to serve the Indian reservations. Hanan's Trading Post, along the Old Bisti Highway, was an active concern during the 1920s. A highway archaeology project conducted at the former trading post prior to construction on SR 371 collected artifacts such as paper tire wrappers and a Ford Model T identification plate, deposited long before the automobile made highway archaeology an option.

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click to view artifacts

The Colfax Schoolhouse, built in 1909, as it appeared in 1982.

The excavated stone foundation of the 1920s-era Hanan's Trading Post (Tsi-Dse-Tei) along the Old Bisti Highway