Emery Gap

Emery Gap - Las Animas County, Colorado / Union County, New Mexico - 6,373 feet
Bachicha Creek to north. Intermittent stream to south.
South of Branson on CO-389 / NM-551.
paved - road bike

photos by Karst Postma, 5/4/2011

At the gap.

At the gap.

At the gap.

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From United States Board on Geographic Names:
Feature Name ID Class County State Latitude Longitude Ele(ft) Map BGN Date Entry Date
Emery Gap 902242 Gap Union NM 365946N 1035201W 6345 Emery Peak - 13-NOV-1980

From “The Place Names of New Mexico” by Robert Hixson Julyan:
EMERY GAP (Union; extends from Colorado through the mountains into the Dry Cimarron country, 7.5 mi E of the Colfax County line, on NM-551). In 1862 Madison Emery, with his wife, Susanne, and two step-children, Sarah Jane and Bud Sumpter, attempted freighting produce from their home along the Dry Cimarron River to Denver. The gap where they entered Colorado now bears their name, as does Emery Peak, as well as the settlement of Emery Gap, associated with the pass and named for it. The pass formerly had been known as Cimarron Pass.

From Emery Gap Ranch, Ranch History:
Joseph Doherty immigrated from Donegal, Ireland to New Mexico in 1879 and in his lifetime he amassed an empire larger, by far, than all his native County Donegal. According to an article published in the Western Live Stock Journal in February 1950, "the Doherty domain sprawls across two state lines— Colorado and New Mexico. It is a vast land. It does not lie in one body, yet its farthermost reaches are readily accessible from its headquarters point, Folsom, New Mexico. From Folsom you can travel roughly 50 miles to any point on the compass and most of the time you will be in 'Doherty Land.' "
The Doherty Investment Company, established by Joseph Doherty in about 1900, was comprised of eight large ranches (including Emery Gap Ranch), plus two general stores and a bank. The ranches were split up among Mr. Doherty's children in the early 1940s with the Emery Gap Ranch becoming part of the John J. Doherty & Sons Cattle Company. It has continued to be operated as a part of this company since that time.
Emery Gap, originally known as Cimarron Pass, was a part of the Mountain Route of the Santa Fe Trail from about 1873 until the mid 1880s. Toll Gate Canyon, located on the edge of the ranch, was used to move cattle herds and freight from New Mexico into Colorado to avoid having to go over Raton Pass. Bill Metcalf established the toll station in 1870 (which included two huge rocks forming the "toll booth" and a one-room house) and charged a toll to use the road. The Alps, the mountains on Emery Gap Ranch next to Toll Gate Canyon, were named in 1887 when the Colorado and Southern Railway was built because of the terrain's similarity to the Swiss Alps.
The small community of Emery Gap was established in about 1888 after the railroad in the area was completed. It included a railroad station, a post office (operated from 1896-1925), a church, a one-room schoolhouse, and a small group of families.

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© 2011-14 Randy Bishop
Last modified: February 2, 2014