By Jean B. Newville
My grandfather, William Kile Shupe, and two other men were the first to settle in what is now the Carson Township. Before settling in Carson my grandfather worked for six years for the Singer Sewing Machine Company and often traveled what he called “the Old Santa Fe Trail South of Taos”.
In his autobiography, my grandfather wrote, “While driving along the Old Santa Fe Trail south of Taos, I looked westward across the Rio Grande Canyon and beheld with admiration what seemed in the distance to be a beautiful plain. I had been told that there was a bridle trail leading across the Rio Grande canyon just below the junction of Taos Creek, but that the river was only ‘fordable’ in times of low water. I was also told that Kit Carson had once led a scouting party over this trail, which resulted in an engagement with the Indians in swift pursuit. He had lost his horse and his coveted scalp and was saved only through an intervention of providence.
On April 28, 1909, Grandfather Shupe along with Joseph Urban Rogers and J.J. Baumgardner, explored the area and found, at what is now the Carson Dam, “a piece of paper bearing the name of J. R. Rinker and dated in 1892.” This indicates that as early as 1892 there was an interest in settling this area.
During the summer of 1909, these men worked to build an irrigation ditch and “in September John (J. J. Baumgardner) went back to Virginia and returned with his family and four other men who selected locations and put up cabins.”
In 1912 or 1913, my grandfather met with “the commissioners court in Taos” regarding “a new County road across the Rio Grande at the mouth Taos Creek.” He met with the County Surveyor the second Monday in October and shortly thereafter camps were set up on both sides of the river. “The new road was finally completed in Spring of 1915,” he wrote, “and my brother and I drove our team across the bridge for the first time.”