Cimarron, NM

Today we had lunch in the St. James Hotel in Cimarron.  That is Spanish or actually American Spanish from a Taino word (see brother Bill’s comment) for wild or unruly and that is very descriptive of this small village in northern NM during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It was on the Santa Fe Trail and many of the Wild West’s most famous persons are connected with it. Frenchman and chef Henri Lambert became quite well known for his wonderful food in Washington D.C. (personal chef to President Lincoln) but in about 1865 he moved to the mining community of Elizabethtown.  He tried mining but soon returned to his real profession as a chef.  By the early 1870’s the gold ore was playing out and he was enticed to move to Cimarron. In 1872 he opened his saloon known as Lambert’s Place where someone was frequently shot and killed. Over time the saloon added rooms and became the St. James Hotel.  It became known as the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi. Some of the famous folks who stayed there included the Earp brothers and their wives, Buffalo Bill Cody, Zane Grey, and former NM Gov. Lew Wallace wrote part of his novel “Ben Hur” while staying there.  Outlaws such as Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Clay Allison and Black Jack Ketchum stayed in the hotel at one time or another. The bar (original saloon area) has many bullet holes that have never been repaired.  It is a wonderful old hotel with many pictures and other memorabilia about the area, people and period in NM history. Their are beautiful antiques throughout the hotel and many are original. The hotel also has a history of paranormal activity.  Mary Lambert has been seen in her room and Room 18 has been preserved as though T.J. Wright were still staying there. It is said that Mary Lambert is the hotel’s protector and that T.J. Wright’s ghost is angry and mean (yours might be too if you had been shot in the back and died in that room) and bad things happen in the hotel when someone stays in Room 18 so it is no longer rented.  Click here for more about the ghost sightings and to learn why T. J. Wright was killed there.

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3 thoughts on “Cimarron, NM

  1. It’s not that I doubted your etymology, but “cimarron” is not well-known in Spain. However, apparently it is in American Spanish. Turns out it comes from a Taino word “simaran” which indeed means “wild”. How it got from the Caribbean to New Mexico is probably an interesting story.

  2. Whoa, Marilyn! Went back to finish the Wiktionary article on Taino, and since it was the first language the Europeans came into contact with (which was also widely spoken), it had an enormous influence on our (English, French, Spanish) vocabulary. To wit: barbecue, cannibal, canoe, Caribbean, hammock, hurricane, iguana, Jamaica, maize, manatee, papaya, savannah (I knew you’d like that one), tobacco and yucca. Among others….

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