Capitan, New Mexico: From the Coalora Coal Mines to Smokey Bear
by Gary Cozzens
In early May 1950 a massive forest fire spread through the Capitan Gap in the Capitan Mountains. A young black bear cub was found clinging to a tree ... Show synopsis In early May 1950 a massive forest fire spread through the Capitan Gap in the Capitan Mountains. A young black bear cub was found clinging to a tree with his paws singed and his mother nowhere in sight. That cub, later named Smokey Bear, was doctored and eventually sent to Washington, D. C. where he became the living symbol of fire prevention. Without a doubt, Smokey Bear is the most famous resident of Capitan, NM, but he is not the sole history of the area. In addition to a comprehensive chapter on Smokey Bear, Cozzens's history of Capitan will cover everything from the significant coal mining and ranching history of the area (Block Ranch was the largest in the country at the turn of the century), US Forest Service's involvement in the area, Civilian Conservation Corps history (one of the few CCC camps for women was located here), and the story of one of Capitan's most famous, but not so well-covered, citizens, George A. Titsworth.