Nearby Bent's Fort served the early fur traders in the 1840's, and four decades latter, the sleepy village on the Arkansas river began blossomed as a rail town on the Santa Fe line.
The name "La Junta" is of Spanish origin, and is pronounced "La Hunta". It signifies a junction or meeting place, where roads meet and diverge to the mountain passes or to the wide plains. In late 1875, La Junta was established as a stop for the Santa Fe Railroad. It was a terminus for a spur of the the Kansas Pacific Railway, coming in from Kit Carson. La Junta was the main forwarding point for the trade going into New Mexico, Arizona, and the southwestern United States. La Junta was quite lively, with upwards of 500 "mule and bull" teams a common sight around town. In 1877 the Santa Fe was finished down to the south, and the Kansas Pacific spur closed down in mid-1878. By that time, most of the buildings had been moved away, and the town was nearly forsaken. The Santa Fe recognized the value of the location, and built a depot and roundhouse there. The local area is given over to ranching and agriculture...northern Otero County is known for some of the finest melon crops in the world.