Cultural Qualities of the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail


During the years of its existence, the Santa Fe Trail was more than just an important commercial trade route across the southwest. From 1821-1846, the Trail was an international corridor between the United States and Mexico. Even after the United States acquired Mexico's northern provinces (1848), the Trail served as a conduit for exchange and interaction between Spanish, Native American and American cultures. The trail's multi-cultural history is reflected in the diverse inhabitants of the communities found along the Byway, and in the richness of the cultural events hosted by these communities.

In addition, communities through which the byway passes are scenic in their own right, from the Corazon de Trinidad National Historic District, with its period architecture and brick streets, to quaint rural farm towns with roadside stands at the farmers market selling locally grown produce. The Corazon de Trinidad National Historic District is the place to be on Saturday mornings. Your coffee is brewing at the Trinidad Farmer's Market. Join the other strollers at Miners Memorial Park on Main Street to shop for next week's meals. Growers rise early to bring you the choicest produce from the area; mounds of cantalopes, sweet corn, greens and every variety of root crop. Some say that Rocky Ford, Colorado grows the sweetest cantalopes on earth! Vendors offer homemade jams, jellies, vinegars and pickles, even handmade aprons. There is also a delectable variety of honeys. Local nurseries are here with a large selection of annuals and perennials that grow well in the area, including the full palette of bearded irises. Sturdily crafted redwood trellises for your vines and roses, plus gardening books and melodic wind chimes are all available at the Farmer's Market. Musicians drop by to add some tunes to the conversations with the out of town visitors. Farmer's Market on the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail is a cultural feast for the soul.

Significant Cultural Qualities are:

Culturally diverse communities.

Numerous farm stands featuring local produce and crafts.

Community events, such as rodeos, Santa Fe Trail festivals, County Fairs, the Arkansas Valley Fair, Cinco de Mayo Celebrations and much more!

Traditional Hispanic celebrations such as Los Pastores and Las Posadas.

The Koshare Indian Dancers and an extensive collection of Native American art at the Koshare Indian Museum in La Junta.

Culturally representative architecture, including adobe structures on private property and public facilities, particularly the Corazon de Trinidad National Historic District.

Several large murals depicting the Santa Fe Trail and western history on walls of commercial buildings.

Numerous art galleries displaying western regional and local art.

A traditional mud oven (horno) for public use at Trinidad Lake State Park.



Culturally Diverse Communities

The culture of the Santa Fe Scenic and Historic Byway has been shaped by the many people that have traveled along the Santa Fe Trail. The byway has many signs of Mexican influence, as well as the impact of a variety of other people. Communities along the byway continue to celebrate the diverse inhabitants through traditional celebrations, culturally representative architecture, religious folk art, and Hispanic culture at Trinidad's Baca House Museum, Old Fire House No. 1 Children's Museum, A.R. Mitchell Museum, and the many other museums along the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail. Traditional Hispanic celebrations are held throughout the byway, such as Los Pastores, Las Posadas, Fiesta Days and Santa Fe Trail Days. Large murals depicting the Santa Fe Trail and Western history are displayed as reminders of past and present cultural contributions.



The tradition of the county fair and local rodeos can be found all along this route, and community celebrations highlight some of the unique features of the area. Southeastern Colorado is embedded with Mexican culture as a result of the area being a Mexican territory longer than it has been a part of the United States. Even after the United States acquired Mexico's northern provinces in 1848, the Santa Fe Trail served as a conduit for exchange between Spanish, Native American, and American cultures.


The Koshare Indian Dancers and an extensive collection of Native American art are representative of our native American Indian culture. The Koshare Indian Kiva is home to the world renown Koshare Indian Dancers and their famous flaming hoop dance. The local Boy Scouts Troop 232 performs authentic ceremonial dances of the Plains Indians. Each summer, the Koshares have a limited number of public performances before their annual national tour. In the winter, the Winter Ceremonial Dance has become part of the local holiday tradition.


Theater and Arts

The Picketwire Theater for Performing Arts is home to the Picketwire Players. Currently, the theater stages four plays each year featuring various local performers. The Children's Theatre of La Junta is now is under the direction of Kelly Jo Smith. They hold their summer Auditions around the first week of May. La Junta High School Theatre also has performances throughout the school year. The Arkansas Valley Community Concert Series sponsors several concert performances throughout the year. A group of traveling artists performs samplings of several different musical formats each year. The Baca Little Theater in Springfield and The Walsh Fine Arts Center are major contributors to the rich repertoire of cultural contributions to the Byway.


Trinidad State Junior College is expanding its theater and musical offerings through its Performing Arts Academy & Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre Company. During the summer they host a three-month residency with specialized classes and performances for theater and music students of all ages. The Massari Performing Arts Center at Trinidad State Junior College has productions throughout the year for your enjoyment.



Otero Junior College puts on its Spring Festival competition that features local students work. The categories include everything from writing, painting, photography to ceramics. The Otero Junior College Dance Program puts on various performances through the year show casing the students from preschool age through junior college. The local Fine Arts League at Otero, sponsors a National Art Show that showcases local artists. They hold this juried competition each May at the Otero Museum and it is open to all local artists. The Mountain Branch is now home to countless local artists. These artists have come from all over the world, including some well known Artists Communities such as Santa Fe and Taos. Our area also is home to many writers who devote their creative pursuits to the historical documentation of the Santa Fe Trail. Santa Fe Trail Mountain Branch has an old town shopping environment and is a treasure trove of arts, antiques, oddities and bargains galore.

Our Historical Societies

The Colorado Historical Society and the many historical societies established within our communities are very active in keeping the history alive on the Santa Fe Trail. They are large contributors to the opportunities afforded us along the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail. Founders of many of the Historical sites along our Byway, they support our efforts in increasing awareness of all of the attributes our Byway offers. They are the mighty trees beneath the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail. They protect, preserve and promote our byway's history and are truly appreciated by all.

Trinidad Historical society has been very active in supporting the historic ventures along the Santa Fe Trail within its region. These proud champions of our cause offer living history activities, research, historical site development, and grants assistance for historical projects along the Santa Fe Trail. Trinidad State Junior College has partnered with the Trinidad Historical Society to bring many presentations which are focused on aspects of the history of Trinidad. Scolars discuss the many opportunities that life offered within the region's complicated conception and development. A variety of interesting Santa Fe Trail stories can be learned from the DVD series. Such as: "The History of School District No 1," "Trinidad during WWII," "Old Homes of Trinidad," and "CF~I Coal Mining (Colorado Fuel and Iron Company) in Las Animas County and many more." They are $20. Click here for a printable order form.

The Pioneer Historical Society of Bent County sponsors the Boggsville Living History Committee. This group of volunteers supports activities at the Boggsville. One project of this committee was the dramatic re-creation of the Cheyenne Indian raid of 1867. The film serves as a wonderful visual reference for the day to day human activities of diverse cultures and backgrounds on the Santa Fe Trail. This raid was a result of unrest following the Sand Creek Massacre (November 1864) which resulted in the death of four Indians, two soldiers and two settlers. The re-enactment was filmed and is available on VHS video from the Boggsville Store.

Foreign Food Favorites

Restaurants throughout the Mountain Branch offer all types ethnic foods to satisfy a variety of cravings for Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Greek, and let us not forget the all American melt in your mouth grilled Steak at the local Saloon. Trinidad's Rinos Italian Restaurant of excellent traditional Italian foods and fantastic singing waiters in their opulent historic setting. Rocky Ford has authentic mouth-watering Mexican food at the La Taqueria #2 Mexico (#1 is in Denver). A brewery is making a buzz in the Corazon de Trinidad National Historic District. They have two new brews, one being a Porter and the other a Honey Wheat. Appetizers are served with a big and hearty welcome to the Trinidad Brewing Company, Trinidad's First New Brew Pub in this Century. The Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail offers nightlife ranging from Mexican Cantinas to Old West Saloons. You will be dazzled by the quality of entertainment and excellent cuisine.

Our World Class Blues Festival

Trinidad is home to the annual "Trinidaddio Blues Fest." It is a premium Blues Festival, offering a wide variety in blues entertainment yearly. In Trinidad each August! Gates will open at 11:30 and music will begin at Noon sharp.



Site Map 

La Junta Sites 

Lamar Sites 

Trinidad Sites 

Byway Museums

Byway Links