How did Bart and Bret get to La Mesa?




Bret and Bart Maverick had been riding together for some time when they came to a trail leading north and south. If they were to turn left, the north trail would have taken them to Clayton in four days. If they turned right, they could have been in Santa Fe in one.[1] In the spring of 1876, this is likely to have been in the vicinity of La Vega de los Vigiles, New Mexico Territory, where the city of Española stands today. The river they had just forded would have been the Rio Grande near its confluence with Rio Chama.[2]


This would mean the brothers would have come from the west, suggesting they have traveled down the Rio Chama. In the early days of 1876, there was nothing back in that direction of interest to the Mavericks, unless they were coming all the way from the mining camps of the San Juan Mountains in the Rockies of southwestern Colorado Territory.[2]


Upon reaching the Rio Grande, the brothers parted ways. Bret took the trail north for Clayton to visit Adelaide. But having never been to Santa Fe, Bart took the southern trail.[1]





• Pojoaque. Bart remarked they could be in Santa Fe "by tomorrow,"[1] yet it was only 25 miles to the south from where he parted with Brother Bret, just about half a day's ride. It is likely, then, that Bret and Bart separated late in the day, so a night would have been spent somewhere along the trail. Bart, taking the southern route, probably camped near the trickling creeks around Pojoaque and rode into Santa Fe the next day.[2]


• Santa Fe. Only 15 miles further south from Pojoaque,[3] Bart would have arrived in Santa Fe early enough in the day to have met Daisy Haskell and escort her around town to see the sights together. Bart then signed on with Daisy to escort her from Santa Fe to Laramie, Wyoming Territory.[1] The first leg of the trip, and the one that sees us through the story to La Mesa, would have been along the famed Santa Fe Trail.[3] Daisy arranged for their stagecoach journey to begin at the Fillipe Ranch, north of Santa Fe, presumable to lend credibility to the driver and passengers of their ruse that they were Mr. and Mrs. John Haskell, that they had been guests of the ranch. From there, they rode the stage into Santa Fe, from where they would pick up the Santa Fe Trail.[1]


• Las Vegas was traditionally the first stage stop along the Santa Fe Trail. About 70 miles from Santa Fe, the trail led travelers south at first, and then east to circumnavigate the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. Once east of the Rockies, travelers could avoid difficult mountain roads and travel in relative speed and comfort.[1] In Las Vegas, Bart and Daisy likely stayed at the Exchange Hotel which, in 1876, was also the stage stop.[4]


• Loma Parda, only 20 miles up the Santa Fe Trail from Las Vegas. After having left Las Vegas,[4] the stagecoach was attacked by a band of Comanche. Having managed to fight them off while running at breakneck speed,[1] the stage undoubtedly headed directly for the relative safety of Fort Union, cutting their second day's travel a bit short.[2] The raucous town of Loma Parda was only five miles to the southwest of the fort, and the only stop in the vicinity with the level of hotel accommodations to which Daisy would have been accustomed.[3] It was probably there that Bart and Daisy spent the second night of their journey, as guests at the Lake Hotel.[1]


• Cimarron, 50 miles north of Loma Parda, the most civilized town along the trail thus far.[3] Bart and Daisy likely stayed at Cimarron's well-appointed but notorious St. James Hotel. Daisy's shooting of Snopes may well have contributed to the hotel's infamous history of 26 killings.[2] It was here that Bart demanded that Daisy tell him everything, but she convinced him to wait until they reached their next stop in La Mesa.[1]


01. Maverick, The Jeweled Gun (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

02. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails

03. Roadside History of New Mexico (1989); Francis L. and Roberta B. Fugate

04. History of New Mexico: Its Resources and People (1907); George B. Anderson; Pacific States Publishing Co.

05. Historical marker; Clayton, New Mexico (retrieved August 10, 2015)

Bret and Bart Maverick’s trail
from the Colorado Territory
to the Rio Grande

Early April – April 26, 1876

Bart Maverick’s trail
from the Rio Chama

to Santa Fe

April 26 – 27, 1876

Bart Maverick and Daisy Haskell's trail
from the Fillipe Ranch to Las Vegas

April 28, 1876

Bart Maverick and Daisy Haskell's trail
from Las Vegas to Loma Parda

April 29, 1876

Bart Maverick and Daisy Haskell's trail
from Loma Parda to Cimarron

April 30, 1876

Bret Maverick's trail from
the Rio Chama to Clayton

April 26 – 30, 1876

Bret Maverick's trail from Clayton to La Mesa

May 4, 1876

Bret and Bart Maverick's trail
from La Mesa to Laramie

May 5 – Mid-May, 1876

Bart Maverick and
Daisy Haskell's trail

from Cimarron to La Mesa

May 1, 1876




Taking the northern trail up the Rio Grande from its confluence at the Rio Chama, Bret would have likely traveled up to Taos before crossing the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. He would have traversed Moreno Valley and Cimarron Canyon before dropping down into the town of Cimarron and making his way eastward to Clayton.[2] The Clayton of "The Jeweled Gun" is not to be confused with the later Clayton which, in 1876, would not be founded for another eleven years.[5] After "a long story" with Adelaide in Clayton, Bret would have moved northward to La Mesa, where he met up again with Brother Bart on his way to Laramie, Wyoming Territory.[1]





Not to be confused with La Mesa in southern New Mexico Territory, 23 miles north of the Mexican border, which could have in no way been along a trail from Santa Fe northward to Laramie, Wyoming Territory.[4] Rather, a small ranching community near today's abandoned La Mesa Park, today in Raton, New Mexico, is the more likely site of the story's La Mesa.[2]


Bart, already in La Mesa, was anxious to move along — far from Santa Fe after his ordeal with Daisy — and decided to stay on the trail for Laramie. Brother Bret, having reunited with Adelaide[1] just thirty-six miles southwest of La Mesa in Clayton,[2] was also anxious to move along. He traveled to the stage stop in La Mesa and found himself together again with Brother Bart. They traveled northward into Colorado Territory,[1]probably celebrating Bret's 36th birthday together in Denver, one of their very favorite rendezvous points in the West.[2]

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