La Corazon de Trinidad
Story and photo by David H. Neal
TRINIDAD, CO -- Nestled at the foot of Fisher's Peak, a volcanic butte on Colorado's southern border, Trinidad isn't the sort of place that you're likely to notice as you whiz through on Interstate 25, probably preoccupied with getting to, or perhaps away from, Denver. Not yet a tourist town, not filled with crowds on holiday, Trinidad's sleepy appearance belies its role as a key player in the settling of the West.
Beginning life as a lusty frontier town, Trinidad was born as a supply depot on the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail where it turned south into New Mexico over Raton Pass. Following Santa Fe Trail days, Trinidad
served as a railhead for cattle drives from Texas and New Mexico on the Goodnight Trail. In what is today La Corazon de Trinidad, Main Street was chopped into a dusty alley by thousands of hooves as the cowboys drove their charges through the center of town, whooping and firing six shooters overhead. Although never so famous as Dodge City, Trinidad nevertheless quickly boasted a reputation as a rowdy cow town. Legend has it that Doc Holliday gambled here with Bat Masterson, who was actually town marshall for a time. Another famous resident of the period, Kit Carson, is remembered in a statue and a city park named for him.
After its heyday as a cow town, Trinidad matured and prospered as the center of one of the world's richest coal mining regions until the 1950s. Some folks say that time here stopped with the end of the mining era. Maybe it's the Victorian architecture and brick streets that make it seem that way.
Trinidad has preserved its history in La Corazon de Trinidad ("The Heart of Trinidad") National Historic District. Stop at the Welcome Center at Interstate 25 Exit 13, at the south end of town, to get a map for a walking tour of La Corazon de Trinidad. Several museums, churches, and Victorian buildings await your inspection.
Getting there -- Trinidad is on the Colorado-New Mexico border on Interstate 25, approximately midway between Denver and Albuquerque.
Information -- Write or call Trinidad/Las Animas County Chamber 309 Nevada St Trinidad, CO 81082 (719) 846-9285
Accomodations -- Trinidad is a city of about 10,000 and has a full complement of lodging, restaurants, and medical facilities.
The A. R. Mitchell Memorial Museum and Gallery -- 150 E. Main, 10 AM - 4 PM, Monday thru Saturday, Mid-April thru September, free admission.
The Aultman Museum of Photography -- 136 E. Main St. (719) 846-3881, 10 AM - 4 PM daily except Sunday, May through September, free admission.
The Baca & Bloom Houses and the Pioneer Museum -- 300 E. Main St. (719) 846-7217, 10 AM - 4 PM Monday thru Saturday, 1 PM - 4 PM Sunday, Memorial Day thru Labor Day, adults$2.50, children and seniors $1.25.
Trinidad Children's Museum -- 314 N. Commercial St. (719) 846-7721, 10 AM - 2 PM Monday thru Friday, June thru August, free admission.
All of the above museums have tours by appointment during the off-season.
Special Activities -- The Santa Fe Trail Festival is held the second weekend in June. Activities include a performance by the Koshare Indian Dancers, a nationally recognized troop of Explorer Scouts from La Junta, Colorado, whose objective is to help preserve Indian culture.
Copyright 1997 by David H. Neal