Saturday, November 22, 2008

Travels in Colorado and New Mexico

A colleague and I recently attended a symposium in Colorado Springs. On the way back south we decided to detour and see some different country. At Trinidad, Colorado, we turned west on U.S. 160 and then south on Colorado 389 toward the tiny community of Branson. (Follow this link for interesting pictures and info on Branson.)

The photo below was taken just south of the 160/389 junction. We are looking to the west toward Trinidad. The two taller peaks on the right side of the photo are the Spanish Peaks and the snow-covered mountains in the middle are the Sangre de Cristos. The mesa to the left is in the area of Raton Pass. (You may click on any of the photos to enlarge them.)

The photo below is a zoom into the Sangre de Cristos. From where we stood, about an hour east of Trinidad, you cannot see a single house or building.

The valley that you see in the distance of this photo is where Interstate 25 runs today but was once a section of the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail. The trail continued over Raton Pass into New Mexico. To the south of where we stood for this photo is the town of Branson which is located on the BNSF railroad (once upon a time the Denver, Texas & Ft. Worth Railroad). If you continue futher south on 389 you will enter Tollgate Canyon through which was a minor branch of the Santa Fe Trail. It was used extensively by Charles Goodnight when he trailed herds north on the Goodnight-Loving Trail into Colorado and Wyoming. He thought the tolls over Raton Pass were too high so he shifted the herds futher east to the Tollgate Canyon. After a period of time, he blazed his own trail over Trinchera Pass.

Tollgate Canyon was also known as one of the hideouts of Blackjack Ketchum, a notorious outlaw of the early Plains. He and his band of thieves used the canyon as a route between various trails where settlers traveled. (Some interesting reading about the area can be found at this link.)

Photos courtesy of Neal Odom.


Travis Erwin said...

Nice post and I enjoyed reading the links as well.

Barbara Martin said...

Thanks for posting this historical feature, and providing the links.

Plowing and Sowing said...

Great post. I enjoyed the links. Man, you get to see a lot of "cool" places.

Janie said...

Beautiful pix. Thanks for sharing!

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Thanks for the comments y'all. Everywhere I travel I find myself thinking of the old trails that crossed the area and how it might have looked to the first settlers/travelers. I plan to do more of this type of post in the future. Janie: You've got to get out of the airplanes and off the beaten path once in awhile!

Donald Douglas said...

Well, that just looks like some wide open adventure.

Beautiful pictures.

God bless you and yours on this holiday season!