I used to think of Trinidad as my second home, it was certainly the area where my parents were born and raised. It wasn’t unusual for my dad to get home from work around the time I got home from school on a Friday afternoon and load up the car and drive three hours to the edge of southern Colorado at least one weekend a month. I know the route down I-25 like the back of my hand. Here it goes like a run-on sentence.
One you hit Castle Rock you’re really out of the Denver area. Monument Hill is an area you don’t want to be when there is snow and ice, but boasts an amazing view when driving down into Colorado Springs. There are always gliders and single prop Cessna type planes pulling them along in front of the Air Force Academy stadium at the base of the Rockies. Painted signs to North Pole Santa’s Workshop and Garden of the Gods line the outskirts of Colorado Springs and I have yet to visit either of them. Towering over the Springs sits Pikes Peak. If you are lucky enough you might get a chance to see tanks and Army troops on maneuvers behind the barbed wired fence of Fort Carson on the way out of town. The green and lush landscape fades into a dry terrain as you approach the iconic smoke stacks of the distant Pueblo. And each time I pass through there, I make a promise to get off the interstate and explore it one day. The climb past Colorado City is a view of Fisher’s Peak some 50 odd miles south. The 300 foot Huerfano mountain (actually butte) is a true orphan of the flat landscape in comparison to the majestic Spanish Peaks to its’ west. Walsenburg is a town that has seen better days, and if you blink you will miss the turnoff. Lathrop State Park and its’ two lakes are still there as far as I know. It was my least favorite campsites growing up because it was typically hot, loaded with desert brush and snakes. Seeing the exit for Aguilar meant that Trinidad was just around the corner. My Dad and Uncle Cheech would say that some of the best goat cheese came from there. You can’t see the town from the highway and I have never been there so I am unable to vouch for its’ existence. Around to the bend between Trinidad and Aguilar is the ghost town of Ludlow sadly known as the site of the 1914 massacre of 19 men, women, and mostly children by the Colorado National Guard during a coal miners strike. My Uncle Lon and others claim that you can see ghosts of the mining camps on fire while driving at night. Just a little under three hours later you have arrived in Trinidad.
Below are photos of a once thriving mining town now mostly known as the sex change capital of the world. What I can say about the town won’t do it justice but in the same breath I could write a book about it. I felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia when I was there. I have many fond memories of family tied to Trinidad and it seems that time and change have robbed me of that. In loving memory of my mom (1932-2009).