2.7 sq miles
65th largest city in New Mexico
10,348th largest city in the United States
120 miles north of Santa Fe, NM
Native American: 12.48%
African American: 3.7%
Culture & Heritage
- Area was colonized by Spanish settlers in the late 1500s
- Land grants were given to prominent citizens to establish Spanish rule throughout New Mexico
- In 1848, after the Mexican American War, the land grants were administered by the U.S. Government (Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo)
- The Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo caused many landowners to lose their land and opened the Rio Chama Valley for Anglo land settlers.
- In February 1880, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad began construction of the San Juan extension
- Railroad service to Chama began February 1881 causing Chama to become a boomtown
- Main industries included logging, silver and natural gas mining, and sheep and cattle ranching
- The Great Depression and the terrible winter of 1931-1932 nearly destroyed the sheep ranching industry
- Due to the Sherman Act in 1893 and its devastating effect on the silver mining industry, the railroad became mostly stagnant.
- In 1969, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad was given permission to abandon the railroad to Chama.
- Most of the track was dismantled but, in 1970, preservationists in Colorado and New Mexico were able to save the track leading from Chama, NM to Antonito, CO
- In 1971, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad began its tourist trips on the longest and highest narrow-gauge railroad
- Chama is now a primarily tourist town, with a unique blending of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo cultures.
Distance to Chama
Sign up for the Chama Valley Chamber of Commerce’s monthly newsletter. In your inbox first Friday!