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Colfax County

Colfax County was named for Schuyler Colfax, who was Vice President of the United States when the county was created.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Costilla County, Colorado and Las Aminas County, Colorado  

E – Union County

S – Harding County and Mora County

W – Taos County

Created:  January 25, 1869                    Map of New Mexico highlighting Colfax County

County Seat:

Elizabethtown  1869 – 1872

Cimarron          1872 – 1882

Springer           1882 – 1897

Raton               1897 – present


County Courthouse – Raton


Location:   230 North 3rd Street / Clark Avenue

Built:  1936 – 1937

Style:   Art Deco

Architect:  Townes & Funk of Amarillo and R W Vorhees

Contractor:  W Frank Litle Construction Company


Description: The building faces east and is a five story light colored brick and concrete structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Raton. The east front had white colored stone around the entrance arch. Area ranch cattle brands decorate the area above the entrance. Embellishments include glazed tile cornices, bas-reliefs depicting local farming, mining & cattle raising. The fifth story is recessed. The roof line has white colored stone trim and there is a chipped-tile roof on top story and flat roofs on lower areas. The interior has terrazzo floors (with an inlaid Zia symbol on the main floor) and tile wainscoting. The ceilings are plastered with classically styled plaster corner moldings and deco light fixtures. The third floor courtroom is deco style with green colored stained furniture, aluminum gates, fluted engaged pilasters, and fluted corner moldings. The bar rail at the front of the room is a deco design of yellow colored squares in a black colored background. Behind the judge’s bench is an inlaid wooden torch. The courtroom now houses the Commissioners’ Room. The fifth story used to house the jail. The building was a Works Progress Administration project. 


See:  The architects, Townes and Funk of Amarillo also designed the courthouse in Quay County and courthouses in Texas in Briscoe CountyCastro County, Childress County, Hansford County, Hutchinson CountyParmer County Potter County and Ward County.


See:  The courthouse is generally considered the second best Art Deco Style courthouse in the Southwest, after the courthouse in Cochise County Arizona.


County Justice Center – Raton



Location:   1413 South 2nd Street / Kearney Street

Built:  2008 – 2010

Style:   Modern

Architect:  Rohde May Keller McNamara Architecture

Contractor:  Michael S Rich Contractors, Inc.


Description: The building faces west and is a two story black and white colored concrete and glass structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds to the south of the center of Raton. The building is rectangular shaped with the entrance on the south side with a large canopy on the west and a sloped roof atop columns on the east. Beside the entrance is a high black colored section rising above the roof line. The interior has high ceilings. The white colored east section contains the law enforcement area. The black colored west section contains to court area with the courtroom located on the first story. The building houses the District Court of the 8th Judicial District. The building is named as the Leon Karelitz Judicial Center. 


Old County Courthouse – Springer



Location:   614 Maxwell Avenue / 6th Street

Built:  1881 – 1882

Style:  Second Empire

Architect:  R M Vorhees

Contractor:  Local labor and trades


Description: The building faces west and is a two story white colored brick and wood frame structure. The building is located on spacious landscaped grounds in the center of Springer. The west front has a three story tower with central entrance on the first story. The roof is pitched. The foundation is exposed stone. The courtroom was on the second floor, with the judge’s chambers in the rear. A single brick jail cell was later added at the back of the building. The architect was R M Vorhees and the contractor was local labor and trades. The rear has a small brick extension which served as the jail. The building now houses a museum devoted to the Santa Fe Trail.


Note:  In 1885, the courthouse lawn was the site of one of the last gun battles of the  Colfax County War, which was a series of skirmishes between squatters and the new owners of the Maxwell Land Grant. A group led by George Curry was assaulted by a group of sheriff’s deputies on the courthouse lawn. Curry’s brother and one of his followers were killed in the gun battle. Curry pleaded guilty to unlawfully caring firearms, and was fined five dollars. Curry went on to serve as governor of the New Mexico Territory from 1907 to 1910, and a US Reprentative from New Mexico from 1911 to 1913.


See:  National Register of Historic Places – Colfax County Courthouse – Springer


See:  The 8th Judicial District includes Taos County and Union County.


History:  The county was created in 1869 and Elizabethtown was designated as the county seat. The county seat was moved to Cimarron in 1872. The first courthouse was built in 1870. The county seat was moved to Springer in 1882. The second courthouse was built in 1881 at a cost of $9,800 and is still standing. The county seat was moved to Raton in 1897. The third courthouse was designed by Rapp and constructed by Morris Contracting & Manufacturing Company in 1898 in Raton at a cost of $28,000. The fourth and present courthouse was constructed in 1936 to 1937 at a cost of $260,000 . he County Judicial Center was constructed in 2008 to 2010.



County Courthouse – Raton













Cattle Brands above entrance









Commissioners’ Room (former courtroom)











County Judicial Center – Raton

















Old County Courthouse – Springer













Photos taken 2007 and 2016