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About Trinidad, Colorado
The Comanche Nation once traveled, hunted and lived on the Southeastern Plains. Spanish conquistadors (soldiers and explorers) sought and controlled colonial expansion of the Americas including Mexico and Southeastern Colorado. Spain forbid trade with the United States.
Mexico gained independence from Spain in the Mexican War of Independence on August, 24, 1821. A new treaty between the United States and Mexico opened trade and the Santa Fé Trail became an international route. Missouri merchant William Becknell is widely acknowledged as the “pioneer” of the Santa Fé Trail in 1821.
The legendary route started in Independence, MO and then followed the Arkansas River through Kansas and into Southeastern Colorado. The Mountain Branch followed the Animas river to Trinidad. From Trinidad, the trail ran over Raton Pass into present day New Mexico to Santa Fé.
In 1842, Santa Fé businessman and entrepreneur Filepe Baca helped open the future town of Trinidad for business.
In 1865, Virginian Richard “Uncle Dick” Wootton built a toll road over Raton Pass. The twenty-seven mile stretch from Trinidad to Willow Springs, NM was completed in 1865. Wagon trains loaded with goods made their way to Trinidad. He later sold the toll road to the A.T. & Santa Fé (AT&F) for Free train travel and food for his wife’s remaining years. The railroad complied for 42 years thereafter.
Trinidad was officially founded in 1862 after the discovery of coal. This brought an influx of immigrants to the area. Trinidad was officially incorporated in 1876 a few months before Colorado achieved statehood.
The AT&F Railroad reached Trinidad in 1878 to serve the burgeoning coal mining industry. The AT&F completed their rail line into Santa Fé in 1880. Trinidad became a major center of commerce for Southeastern Colorado.
Notable Men & Wives
Trinidad Sheriff Bat Masterson and his friends the Earps and Doc Holliday, merchant, banker and cattle baron Frank & Sarah Bloom, Felipe & Dolores Baca, merchants John & Mary Hough and “legendary” Kentuckian born trapper, trader, explorer, Indian agent and soldier Christopher “Kit” Carson.
Margaret Tobin Brown – “the Unsinkable Molly Brown” was an American socialite, philanthropist, and activist. Margaret became famous as one of the Titanic survivors. Her lifelong passion and advocacy for human and labor rights earned her prominence in the aftermath of the 1914 Ludlow Massacre in Trinidad.
On November 15, 1886, Cathay Williams was the “first African American woman to serve in the US Regular Army.” Cathay Williams had to pretend to be a man to enlist into the United States Army. S e went by the name of William Cathay while enlisted. Due to her being frequently hospitalized due to strain and smallpox, the post surgeon discovered that Cathay Williams was a woman. He reported this information to the post commander and on October 14, 1868 Captain Charles Clarke discharged her honorably from the military. Thank you for your service to the United States Cathay Williams!
Mary Harris Jones – “Mother Jones” was an American labor and community organizer who supported coal miners during The Colorado Coal War 1913–1915. From 1897, at about 60 years of age, she was known as Mother Jones. In 1902 she was called “the most dangerous woman in America” for her success in organizing mine workers and their families against the mine owners.
The Santa Fe Trail
Come visit Trinidad, Southeastern Colorado and the Scenic and Historic Byway of the Santa Fe Trail, Colorado’s Mountain Branch. The trail is a “National Historic Trail” and one of the last frontiers of the wild west. Take a virtual tour and view the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail.