The Santa Fe Ring was started by two young lawyers, Thomas B. Catron and Stephen Elkins. They came to Santa Fe after the American Civil War. Their club became an influential group of prominent businessmen who made their fortunes in oil and real estate. Referred to in the local press at the time as an “unholy cabal,” the group had many enemies around the state. At that time Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico’s two largest cities, were in fierce competition to control the state. Albuquerque desperately wanted Santa Fe’s title as state capital.
Through the shrewd and aggressive tactics of the Santa Fe Ring they were able to control most of the local politicians. When it became apparent that Albuquerque would not succeed in becoming the capital their local officials lobbied to have the railroad bypass Santa Fe. With the loss of the inevitable growth that the railroad would have brought to the Santa Fe through wholesale enterprise, it began to decline. While in Albuquerque and Las Vegas where the railroad had depots the economy flourished. In hindsight, the turn of events propelled by the actions of Catron and his group forced Santa Fe to find other economic means of survival. Today, New Mexico’s state capital is world-renown for its art and cultural attractions.