Sometimes it pays to take the road less traveled, and somehow convince the driver on your road trip that it would be a worthwhile venture to check out something you've driven past since childhood, but never bothered to stop. It also helps if it's less than 60 miles off the highway, which usually seems to be the case.
Nestled just "this side" of the Raton Pass (leading from southern Colorado, into New Mexico), and along the Mountain Branch of the old Santa Fe Trail, sits Trinidad, Colorado (population 8,771 in 2012). A little town nestled in some remarkable scenery (the Spanish Peaks are there, leading into high desert country), that we had passed by many times but never bothered to stop. This time we did just that...quite a few times on a cold, windy January day (photos that needed just a tiny bit of "oomph" in the enhancing department, since everyone is tired of drab right about now. The colors of these buildings are all just as beautiful as they show here, on their own...it all just needed a little winter-time "brightening").
Trinidad was founded in 1842 as a trading center on the Santa Fe Trail, later continuing growth as a hub for large cattle operations, coal mining (1862), and the expansion of the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1878 (over the Raton Pass and into Santa Fe, NM in 1880, rendering the old Santa Fe Trail obsolete). The town is chock full of the charm of late 1800's architecture, still. In the 1960's, the town itself gained worldwide renown as "The Sex Change Capital of the World", thanks to a pioneering surgeon ...this beautiful little town is so much more than that, as we found out.
Smack dab in the middle of the main street sits the Southern Colorado Coal Miners Memorial and The Coal Miner's Canary, side by side.
Life-sized bronze figures (obviously the canary is LARGER than life) stand in recognition of hundreds of miners (active, past, retired and deceased), representing 18 states.
Drive through the quaint old cobblestone lined streets (and sidewalks) - each and every one stamped "Trinidad"...Temple Aaron, built in 1889, at the top of the hill; Trinidad Waterworks Building (1879) at the other end of town.
The charming Rino's Restaurant and Lounge - built in 1887 and originally a church!
The residential area, up the hill from the main street, is JUST as inviting - upper right actually a Bed and Breakfast.
Cattle baron, banker, and merchant Frank C. Bloom, built this beauty (also on Main Street) in 1882.
The Bloom Mansion is in the throws of restoration as part of the Trinidad History Museum - it is open, and tours are available. Lower left pictures the expansive gardens of Bloom's wife, Sarah.
Street views, in and above the town.
Ten miles south of Trinidad (off the side of the highway, nestled on the hillside - these were telephoto shots in 60 mph winds, across the highway) sits what is left of a former mining camp (1907-1956), and the remains of the adobe facade of the old mission style St. Aloysius Church, built in 1917. The scenery is beautiful as the architecture of the town is captivating - certainly worth pulling off for a quick "look-see". For more information on the town and surrounding sites, please visit SITES OF TRINIDAD (just click on the BOLD words...it's a link, you know).
Then, cheerfully pass the beautiful big barn, on the left hand side of the road, on your way back to Denver...and apologize to your driver for him having to cave in to your whims and photo opportunity cravings, putting your road trip behind schedule just enough to be engulfed by a massive DUST storm somewhere between Pueblo and Colorado Springs. It was like driving into super scary BROWN fog...white-out conditions, only a BROWN-out. Thanks for getting us safely through - thanks for stopping...photos from a stand-still position are always better than through the car windshield (though you do what you have to do to get the shot), and if it's 60 miles away, it might best be saved for another trip.