Statement of Significance (as of designation - December 19, 1960):
In 1821, Raton Pass was "opened" for wagon traffic to Santa Fe by Capt. William Becknell. The pass played a crucial role in Kearney's conquest of New Mexico in 1846, and the Colorado Volunteers' staunching of the Confederate invasion in 1862. From 1861 to 1865 much of the traffic to Santa Fe crossed the Pass, as Confederate raiders and the threat of attack by some Southern Plains Indians halted traffic over the Cimarron Cutoff.