Philmont Scout Ranch – Everyone is invited! Part 1

“ A True Treasure of the West”

National Scouting Museum and History of the West

Philmont’s colorful history is worth crowing about!  From cowboys and bison, to ancient Puebloan sandals and hiking boots, this is Philmont!

Philmont’s history cannot be described quickly.  Its vastness requires book after book and hours upon hours of reading.  BUT you’re in luck because Philmont has four museums and each one tells a different part of our story.

Entry to all four museums are completely free.  That’s a great start.  Best of all, they’re located in beautiful country that is absolutely “The West”.  Come and visit!

Philmont’s four museums create the system known as the “National Scouting Museum – Philmont Scout Ranch”.  The administrative offices are in a beautiful new building on Highway 21 four and a half  miles south of Cimarron, New Mexico.  This new building is called the National Scouting Museum (NSM).  Here you will find the Seton Memorial Library, a reading room, a visiting scholar’s room, a gift shop with book store, two large exhibit halls and an 88-person conference room.  The story of Scouting is told here.  It began in the United States in 1910 and continues to provide challenging adventures and education centered around the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.

The National Scouting Museum is open year-round with the except of a few holidays.  Please call 575-376-1136 for exact dates.

Less than half a mile from the administrative museum (NSM) is the lovely Villa Philmonté.  The Villa was the summer home of the family of Waite and Genevieve Phillips.  Built in 1927, it is Spanish-Mediterranean in style and is richly decorated with the original antiques that the Phillips’ purchased in Europe.  The Villa grounds are a park-like setting with vast lawns and carefully tended gardens.  The property includes a greenhouse, a guest house and staff quarters.  The Philmont Training Center is located along the Eastern and Southern edges of the Villa Philmonté complex.

There are guided tours of the Villa Philmonte beginning with a brief history of Philmont Scout Ranch.  Waite and Genevieve Phillips gave the Boy Scouts of America 127,500 acres of land through two gifts: 1938 and 1941.  Tour guides explain the land history and give brief biographical sketches of the Phillips family.  The tour continues through the three-story mansion.  Hand-hooked rugs in rich colors, original curtain panels, a player grand piano and a trophy room are some of the highlights.

The Villa is generally open from mid-March to mid-November.  The Villa is a popular destination, so reservations are required.  Please call 575-376-1136 for tour information and availability. 

The Villa Philmonté and the NSM are located at Philmont’s basecamp.  The Kit Carson Museum at Rayado is located seven miles south of basecamp on Highway 21.  Highway 21 travels up and out of Philmont, along rolling stretches of pastures and grassland and then down a steep hill to the Rayado River.  The entrance to the Kit Carson Museum is about two tenths of a mile beyond the river on the west side of the highway.  The doorway is in the shape of a key hole.

The Kit Carson Museum at Rayado is an interpretive site.  The seasonal staff dresses in clothing of the 1850’s and demonstrates the frontier skills of blacksmithing, cooking, shooting and farming.  The museum forms a quadrangle around a central plaza where there is an outside adobe oven called an horno where bread is baked.  The objects and furniture of the museum are reproductions of those found in New Mexico in the 1850’s.

The Rayado complex was built along the Santa Fe Trail by Lucien Maxwell in 1848.  Though he had settled in Taos originally, he saw the benefit of having a permanent settlement on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.  He invited his friend and fellow mountain man, Kit Carson, to help him.  The small community drew the attention of others and before long there were 40-50 workers who farmed, raised livestock, and ran a swing station for merchants on the Santa Fe Trail.  Kit Carson moved on to other adventures in 1851 and ultimately settled in Taos.  Hoping to find a more robust center for his commercial ideas, Lucien Maxwell moved his headquarters from Rayado to Cimarron in 1857.

The Kit Carson Museum is open from early June to mid-October.  Please call 575-376-1136 ahead of time.  No reservations are necessary.

From Page 16 of our Summer 2018 Issue

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