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01. Maverick, The Day They Hanged Bret Maverick (1958), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

02. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails

03. © 2014 Google Maps (retrieved December 8, 2015)

Elbow Bend


Trail town in New Mexico Territory in 1876.[1]


Situated along the Santa Fe Trail just south of Hallelujah. Named for a bend in the road creating an alternate route of the Santa Fe Trail leading to Hallelujah, New Mexico Territory, around Red River Peak and through Cottonwood Canyon.[2]

Founded on
December 8, 1868 after a purchase of 10,000 acres from the Maxwell Land Grant.[2] The town considered itself to be a hospitable stop[1] along the Santa Fe Trail[2] for weary travelers, as evidenced by a sign on it's main street, reading "Welcome friend to Elbow Bend."[1]


Though primarily a trail town, Elbow Bend's chief business was selling land, helping to establish the growing ranching industry in the area, supplying beef to the U. S. Army posts in the territory, as well as to the new mine fields in southern Colorado.[2]


ABOVE: Bret Maverick rides into Elbow Bend, New Mexico Territory, 1876.[1]



In September of 1876, Bret Maverick rode into Elbow Bend after a coin toss with Brother Bart[1] in Cimarron determined that Bart would ride west and Bret east.[2] Weary from his day's ride, Bret checked in and the Elbow Bend Hotel. Cliff Sharp — hiding in the shadows while evading the Hallelujah posse pursuing him for robbing their Wells Fargo office of $40,000 and killing its clerk — watched Bret as he rode into town, stabled his horse at the livery and sign in at the hotel. Knowing Bret must be a stranger in town, Sharp waited until Bret was asleep, sneaked into his room and planted evidence that would incriminate him for Sharp's crime. The posse found Bret asleep with a preponderance of evidence in his possession and took him to Hallelujah to stand trial.[1]



By the 1890s, all viable ranch lands of Elbow Bend's original 10,000 acres had been sold off, putting an end to the town's chief economy. With other, more practical, stops nearby on the Santa Fe Trail, Elbow Bend was slowly abandoned.[2]


Today, the site is occupied by the Whittington Center, the NRA's largest shooting range in the country.[3]


See: The Day They Hanged Bret Maverick

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ABOVE: The site of Elbow Bend today, looking northwest from U. S. Highway 64.[3]

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