NAME: Johnson Mesa
COUNTY: Colfax
GRID #(see map): 3
CLIMATE: Mild winter, warm summer
Spring, winter, fall
COMMENTS: Worth the trip
REMAINS:Church and Cemetery
Johnson Mesa is a place unto itself. Located two thousand feet above the valley floor of Raton, it is an island seven by fourteen miles rising into the sky. The mesa received its name from a Lige Johnson who lived below the mesa but allowed his cattle to graze the mesa top. As no one lived on the mesa at the time, it soon bore the name of Johnson Mesa. In the early 1880s, a railroad construction worker named Marion Bell led a group of fellow workers up to the mesa top to try their hand at farming. It was a successful move. Soon, others followed to become farmers rather than miners. The people of Johnson Mesa raised potatoes, oats, grain, and other crops and eventually branched out into cattle ranching. At one time there was a family living on every 160 acres of land. There were schools, churches and many recreational facilities for family life. After World War I, people began leaving the mesa to seek other ways of making a living. Times were often hard for the mesa people. Winters were often severe and many times the mesa was snowbound. Today a few families make their home on the mesa during the summer but no one lives there during the winter. Still standing is the St. John Methodist Episcopal Church next the cemetery. Courtesy Henry Chenoweth.