Raton was founded at the site of Willow Springs, a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. The original 320 acres (1.3 km2) for the Raton townsite were purchased from the Maxwell Land Grant in 1880. In 1879, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
bought a local toll road and established a busy rail line. Raton
quickly developed as a railroad, mining and ranching center for the
northeast part of the New Mexico territory, as well as the county seat
and principal trading center of the area.