Town History Red River boasts an exciting and colorful history complete with Indians, mountain men, trappers, gamblers, outlaws and miners, plus the boom and bust cycles of the raw frontier. Ute and Jicarilla Apaches fought the nearby pueblos and roamed the area without restraint until they were moved to reservations in 1876. Abundant fur bearing game attracted trappers to the area in the early 1800's. Prospectors followed in the 1860's. They were spurred on by the Elizabethtown gold rush and construction of the Big Ditch. Red River's population soared with "get-rich-quick" fever, and the good and bad moved in by the hundreds. Among the latter was the dreaded and colorful Black Jack Ketchem who took time out from robbing to charm the ladies at area dances.
Gold, silver and copper mines operated in the Red River area until 1925. Most were located in Bitter Creek, Goose Creek, Pioneer, Mallette, and upper Red River Canyons. Molybdenum was discovered in the lower Red River canyon in 1901. Originally thought to be graphite, the mineral's importance as a hardening and strengthening element in the manufacture of steel was proven in 1916. The first "moly" mine was built in 1921-22.
The first area land was homesteaded in the late 1800's by Ed Westobey and the three Mallette brothers, Orin, George and Sulvester. In 1905 Red River had a population of 3,000 complete with 15 saloons, four hotels, two newspapers, a barbershop, a hospital, a sawmill, and an active red light district. It was patented as a township by President McKinley. The first log school house had been built 10 years earlier. Mrs. Ida Phipps was the teacher. The original structure burned in 1915 and was replaced by the Red School House, which is our present day museum. Turn of the century mining failures caused Red River to become a ghost town that flickered to life briefly in 1912 when mining was reactivated.
In the late 1920's and early 1930's, Red River was designated "mountain playground" by tourists escaping the dust bowl. In 1928, Jack Munden built tourist cabins on the site of the present day Riverside Lodge. The Pioneer Camp Site once held cabins built by Will Johnson. In 1930, he added a grocery store and gas pump. At the same time, Mr. Clapper's rental units at the Grandview location were built. Horace Johnson put in a grocery store across from the Miners' Hospital and the future was set.
Red River's excellent climate, beautiful scenery and varied activities ... skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, square dancing, sightseeing, etc. assure the growth and continuation of Red River's exciting history.
'The Riverside' History The Red River area was first settled by gold miners around 1880 and a small cabin was built on the Riverside property where the main lodge now stands. It was added onto over the years and that became the first residence. Then, a grocery was added and by 1901 the owners were renting rooms.
Under the present ownership we have rebuilt or remodeled everything. Riverside has 30 cabins or condo-type units and 8 suites in the main lodge. We are located on a full city block in the center of town and across the street from the Community Center and adjacent to the newest ski lift.
We have lots of green area with a large, well-equipped playground, hot tub, a guest laundry facility, a central meeting room with patio, an outdoor B.B.Q. area, horseshoes, and shuffleboard.