1910 population: 4,539
2009 population: 6,329
Raton called itself the “Pittsburgh of the West” when first founded as a mining and ranching center along the railroad at Willow Springs Ranch. Though coal mining was central to the economy and would be for decades, according to the city’s Chamber of Commerce website, the town was losing ground to other cities at statehood.
The town is called “Raton” (Spanish for “mouse”) possibly because of what early Spanish settlers called a nearby mountain with lots of squirrels and chipmunks, according to “Place Names of New Mexico” by Robert Julyan.
In 1986, a local sign painter proposed returning to the name Willow Springs, but the Chamber of Commerce unanimously voted the effort down.
The last coal mine in the area closed in 2001, according to the Chamber of Commerce website.