The First Ever Santa Fe Trail

Santa Fe Trail King Coal Car Race

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King Coal Car Race, Trinidad CO June 11, 2011

Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway - Mountain Branch
Wyvonne Graham

King Coal is back!

king coal logoToday, June 11, 2011 at 11am, only an hour away from a chance to win big money and very large trophies, six teams and entourages paraded down Main in Trinidad Colorado for the First Ever Santa Fe Trail King Coal Car Race. The race was the concept of Danny Graham and a collaboration between Santa Fe Trail Scenic & Historic Byway - Mountain Branch and Trinidad & Las Animas Chamber of Commerce. Trinidad was known as the home of King Coal in 1888 which is depicted in this seal found at the Trinidad Chamber Office.



Just 15 minutes before the race began, a surprise visit from Mother Jones (Juliette Mondot, re enactor) got the crowd fired up speaking out for miners rights. She was arrested here and taken to the Church across the street (now Rino's). Jailing was not appropriate for women in Trinidad. In her eighties, Mother Jones brought a packed house to it's feet at Trinidad's West Theatre. Mother Jones: "Rise up and strike. . .strike until the last one of you drop into your graves. We are going to stand together and never surrender. Boys, always remember you ain't got a damn thing if you ain't got a union!" Mother Jones lived 100 years. Thanks Juliette for that wonderful reminder of Santa Fe Trail history.

Organizers weren't the only ones to be surprised. The teams were shocked to find that the four mules(runners) would not be required to run 5 or 6 city blocks as they assumed. Instead, they would race one block down and back. The twist- the engineer (rider) had to jump out of the coal car at the end of the course, pick up 10 lumps of coal (tennis balls) and jump back into the coal car. Mules (runners) then raced loaded coal cars back to the start finish line. It was exciting, and inspirational community fun. The crowd shouted with delight for their favorite teams as the coal cars raced down the Santa Fe Trail in front of the Baca House in heats of two's. 

Race Results- 1st, Bella Lunatics, from Bella Luna Pizza. 2nd place- Blazing Paddles, a local ping pong group. 3rd place- Trinidad Fire Department. 

The crowd voted for Best of Show, King Coal Cash Car. Every cent counted as one vote and the Blazing Paddles, a Ping Pong group with a coal car shaped like a paddle, won the award.Votes from all six coal cars raised $470.00. That's at lot of pennies!!! Proceeds will be used to help the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch, a 501 C3 non profit, with expenses for this and future races.

4th place API/COGA, 5th place City Hall'n Ash, 6th place United Mine Workers of America.

The Fire Department 's heavy coal car laden with a battery, fire truck siren and lights made the mules work harder.

The girls of City Hall'n Ash had a tall coal car and engineer Anna Ridolfi was seen nose diving into it with tennis balls in hand, mules Hall'n Ash across the finish line.  API/COGA had the wildest entry pushing a dumpster painted like a coal car! United Mine Workers of America had a Black Gold Coal Car and an engineer who insisted his name was Jack Ass.





History met modern ingenuity on the old Santa Fe Trail today. I gazed into the Baca house windows after the race and wondered what the ghosts of these old Trinidad mansions must be thinking about this crazy fun King Coal Car Race.





organizersThe Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch thanks and applauds our Byway volunteers and supporters. We thank our contestants and spectators most importantly. Thanks to the Trinidad & Las Animas County Chamber of Commerce, the Staff, BOD, and Ambassadors and the City of Trinidad for allowing and helping with the event. A thousand thank yous to United Mine Workers of America for the $1,000 purse, All Events Trophies for the beautiful awards and outstanding trophies, Big R for the Hay and discount on our wheels for the parade float, Budwiser for printing our banners, Amato Lumber for the wood to build the pace car, Hibbett Sports for balls and bags, Trinidad History Museum for the electricity, table, and chairs. Thanks to Tom and Rhonda for the atv's, leading the parade, and helping conduct the event. Thanks to Steve, Deb, Marty, Joe and his family too for setting up the hay. Finally, the most appreciated person of my day, Danny Graham, for thinking of this First Ever Santa Fe Trail King Coal Car Race, helping to market, organize, and conduct it. You are all little angels who made magic happen in El Corazon de Trinidad. Thanks for helping us bring good old fashioned fun and history together on the Santa Fe Trail. We are King Coal Proud people!


Wyvonne Graham
Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway Manager


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