Ponil, Colfax County, New Mexico Genealogy

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Location:                          From Cimarron take US 64 east 5 miles before turning left (north) onto Cerrososo Road an all weather gravel road marked with a small sign for the Valle Vidal Unit of Carson National Forest. Continue on this road for 21 miles passing through Vermejo Park Corporation land before reaching the boundary of the Valle Vidal. At this point, the road becomes FR 1950. Follow FR 1950 for an additional 8 miles until you reach McCrystal Campground on your right (north).  

From Taos, take NM 522 north for 40 miles. Turn right (east) onto NM 196 at Costilla. The road is paved through Amalia, then turns into an all weather gravel road. About 17 miles from NM 522, the road crosses the Carson National Forest boundary and becomes FR 1950. Aproximately 4 miles farther, FR 1950 turns right (south) while FR 1900 continues straight, following Upper Costilla Creek. Stay on FR 1950 for 19 miles until reaching McCrystal Campground on your left (north). Within hiking distance is Ring Place, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ponil Park is approx. 1/2 mile north of the trail that heads west to Sesally Canyon Camp.The cemetery is located on the east side, in a slight draw that heads towards the east. There are only a few ruins left of the old town, but there are several embankments and some wooden bridge trusses that would seem to indicate where they loaded logs on rail cars.

GPS:                               Latitude: 36.6195 N;      Longitude: - 105.0333 W.

Elevation:                        7,241 feet (2,207 meters)

Maps:                               Interactive Maps: Ponil Base Camp; Ponil Mine: Ponil Creek;

                                     North Ponil Creek, Topo map; Middle Ponil Creek; South Ponil Creek;

Photos:                          Photo 2010; Ponil Park today; Scout hike photos; Gravestones;

                                        Middle Ponil Creek; Ruins of Ponil Park;

Post Office:                     Established

Area Cemeteries:            Ponil Park, Seeley, Ring Place Cemetery, Livingston Cemetery,

                                        and Touch Me Not Mountain Jackson Cemetery,  click here.

Census Data:                 1900 US Federal Census for Ponil (31 persons), click here,

                                        1900 US Federal Census for Ponil Park (82 persons), click here.

                                         Closest other enumerated precinct in the 1900 Census was Cimarron.


In 1844 Charles Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda built a cabin on the Ponil River, and it was while taking supplies there that son-in-law Lucien Maxwell was ambushed and wounded in 1848, before he had contol of their extensive Land Grant. Charles Bent conspired around New Mexico Governor Armijo to ensure a settlement on Ponil Creek.

Ponil later became a center for logging and sawmill operations. It declined as the demand for forest products and railroads declined eventually becoming a ghostown, along with settlements in Ring, Labelle, Bonito, Dawson, Anchor, Midnite, & Hopewell. People who were born in some of these little towns still return for family reunions and relive the past.

The remains of this abandoned logging and sawmill town are on the restoration plans of the U S Forest Service and the owners of Philmont Boy Scout ranch.  In Ponil Park there are seven log buildings and cabins without roofs. State archeologist, Eric Peterson said the agency will ensure that renovations are historically accurate.

When the St. Louis, Rocky Mountain and Pacific Railway had completed its line to Cimarron, in 1907, it was pushing its line to Ute Park and beyond. It was at this time that T.A. Schomberg formed The Continental Tie and Lumber Company to conduct operations in the Ponil Park area. The Northwestern Railway Company was formed as a subsidiary of the lumber company. In 1907, surveys had been completed to extend the railway to Van Bremmer Park with branches to other timber areas. Lumber had become of great importance to the railroad. In 1909 over 97% of the railroad freight handled were forest products.

The railroad traveled over 20 miles from Cimarron, going up into the mountains to harvest lumber for railroad ties and mine supports. The expected life of these railway spurs was limited. But, the  threat to bring the entire railroad's existence rapidly to a close, was that logging trucks were found to be more suitable for the operation. In 1921, the railroad track was torn up and Ponil Park was abandoned. The entire line was abandoned on October 31, 1930.

About 1880, Timothy and Catherine Ring, purchased 320 acres from the Maxwell Land Grant Co. in Ponil Park on the North Ponil Creek, 2 miles south of the Valle Vidal. Soon the "Ring Ranch" became the nucleus of vigorous mining, ranching, and railroading community. Timothy Ring died of Tuberculosis in 1906, the property was sold, and the family scattered. Today, the Ring Ranch is on the Register of Historic Places, but the community died by the 1920's.

Family history links:

  •  Eva Archuleta, burial 1927.
  •  Pablo Bernal, forced off land, New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.
  •  Virginia Branson, 2002 Albuquerque Journal obituary.
  • Ysidoro Bustamante., photo. 
  •  William Albert Chapman, school teacher biography and photo.
  •  Lucas Cortez, grave photo.
  •  Dorothy England, Pratt Institute 1902-1903 Junior Class. 
  •  Sarah Fisher, daughter of Tomas Fisher and Demacia Ribera, photo album and family tree. photo 2.  genealogy
  •  John M Gallagher, county birth record.
  •  Donaciano Garcia, daughter's  (Teresa) obituary, 1910 La Revista de Taos.
  •  William Griffin, family history.
  •  John L Hatcher, worked on Ponil Creek Ranch.
  •  Maria Susanna Herrera married Jose Marcos Romero, link
  •  George Robert Jackson, photo grave and biography.
  •  Joshua J Jackson, family tree.  
  •  Trinidad Lopez, daughter of Rafael Lopez and Josefa Duran, family tree. 
  •  Beneriza Martin, daughter of Narciso Martin and Maria Jacinta Abeyta, family tree.
  •  Felix V "Platte" Martinez, 1995 Grant County obituary.
  •  Joseph J Martinez, son of Alfred Martinez and Clarita Suazo, obituary Colorado Springs Gazette 2001.
  •  Lucio Martinez, family tree.  
  •  Manuel Conrado Martinez, timber contractor, elected State Representative. Family Tree. photo, New Mexico State Historian.
  •  Nestora "Nellie" Martinez, daughter of Estanislado and Carolina (Bustamante) Gonzalez, obituary,   Longmont, Colorado. 
  •  Fanny McCrystal, county birth record.
  •  McCrystal brothers, graves, Roy Cemetery.         
  •  Jane Matilda Moore, gravestone and story.
  • Henry Parker's grave, photo.
  •  Eugene Thomas Phelan married Delphia Olive Youst, family tree.
  •  Abelina Rivera], daughter of Jose Dolores Ribera Martinez and Ramona Vigil, baptismal record.
  •  Martina Ribera, daughter of Jose Dolores Ribera Martinez and Maria Ramona Vigil, family tree.
  •  Timothy Ring, biography.
  •  Jose Marcos Romero married Maria Susanna Herrera, link.
  •  Antonia Mary Sanchez, daughter of Donaciano Sanchez and Fidelia Mitatos, child's (Louie Espinoza), grave inscription,  Read Cemetery, Delta County, Colorado. 
  •  Onofer Sanchez, son of Donaciano Sanchez and Fidelia Mitotes, obituary and photo, Mesa View Cemetery, Delta County, Colorado. Grave photo and biography. 
  •  Maria Cleofes Valdez Serna, daughter of Jose and Carmelita Valdez, La Junta, Co. 2010 obituary. 


  • Venturing on Philmont's Valle Vidal.
  • The Railway Age, 1907. Volume 43, page 331, 717. Google Books.
  •  New Mexico's Railroads: a historical survey. David F Myrick. pages 221-223. Google Books.
  • New Mexico shortcut ..present residents or shelters of ancestors..Richard Benke, Associated Press
  •  Existing Integrity of Valle Vidal. Forest Service Management.
  •  Bents Fort, David Lavender, page 270. Google Books.
  •  University of New Mexico, New Mexico Historical Review of documents, Volume 30, No.1, page3 of 33
  •  Cimarron and the Northwestern Railway. Wikipedia.
  • Theadore A. Schomburg Collection, Colorado Historical Society.
  •  The Place Names of New Mexico. Robert Hixspn Julyan, page 291. Google Books.