Top 10 True Western Towns of 2008


We’ll admit it—we didn’t think of Trinidad (the one in Colorado, not the one in the Caribbean) as a big tourist spot. We were wrong.

More than 400,000 people visited in 2006. And they’re following a lot of folks from the past. In the 1800s, thousands passed through Trinidad on the Santa Fe Trail. Others stopped by en route from New Mexico to Denver (now I-25). In 1882, that group included Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, fresh from the infamous Vendetta Ride and running from Arizona authorities; their pal Bat Masterson was Trinidad’s town marshal.

Things haven’t changed much since they dropped by.

The El Corazon de Trinidad National Historic District basically covers downtown and more than 40 buildings. Some 6.5 miles of brick streets meander through Trinidad, giving even greater authenticity to structures like the Baca House, an 1870 adobe restored to its traditional look and containing period furnishings and art. The Bloom Mansion, built in 1882, is currently being renovated. The Santa Fe Trail Museum is housed in the former workers’ quarters at the Baca House and features exhibits of the area’s past.

Several other preservation projects are either underway or in the planning stages. One of Trinidad’s largest commercial buildings, the McCormick, is almost finished. The Toltec Building is being converted to retail and residences. Owners had to replace a back brick wall and strengthen the first floor supports of the Barela Building. The White/Glenn residence is being changed from a B&B into meeting rooms and antiques. The Jaffa Opera House has a new owner who plans to restore it to its 1882 appearance.

All of those are private efforts, undertaken by individuals or businesses. Some public projects include a facelift for city hall, stabilization of the Bloom House and restoration of the Temple Aaron. The bottom line: Trinidad works hard to maintain its heritage.

The city celebrates that heritage by hosting events like the Santa Fe Trail Festival and the County Rodeo and Fair, which dates back to 1910.

Frankly, this description covers just a fragment of the historic sites, institutions, events and preservation efforts that make Trinidad special. You’d be surprised, just as we were. Maybe the best way to find out is to join the hundreds of thousands who visit this Top True Western Town each year.

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