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


"Santa Fe Trail's Mountain Branch and Southeast Heritage Region- Colorado's Most Endangered Places"

Colorado Preservation, Inc. unveiled Colorado’s Most Endangered Places List 2007 during a special announcement luncheon for the Saving Places conference held in Denver Feb. 8, 2007 at the 1770 Sherman Street Event complex, former Mosque of the El Jebel Shrine Temple.

Molly Hughes, news anchor at CBS4 (KCNC-TV), served as the Master of Ceremonies and announced each site followed by a video produced by CBS4.
The annual list is produced by the award-winning and nationally recognized Endangered Places Program of Colorado Preservation, Inc. Santa Fe Trail and- Mountain Branch and Southeast Heritage Region received this recognition to save it's remarkable treasure trove of history for future generations. Historic sites include mile marker 15, site of two B-24 bombers colliding, Timpas, Sierra Vista, Hole in the Rock, Iron Spring, Vogel Canyon, and Picketwire Canyonlands which includes North America's largest Dinosaur Tracksite, historic Rourke Ranch and Withers Canyon.

The Santa Fe Trail was first recognized as a National Historic Trail in 1987. In 1992 it received designation as a Colorado State Scenic Byway by Colorado Dept. of Transportation and in 1998 it received designation from FHWA and the National Scenic Byway Program as a National Scenic and Historic Byway. In 2006, residents in portions of Baca, Bent, Las Animas and Otero Counties learned of a potential expansion of the US Army's Pinon Canyon Maneuver Training Ground that would encompass thousands of acres in the four counties. Transfer of Comanche National Grassland parcels and possible condemnation of private lands may be undertaken as part of the expansion effort. Historic Santa Fe Trail Monuments and sites, prehistoric artifacts and archeological sites, indigenous, Hispanic and Anglo expansion sites as well as historic working ranches and rangeland fill the open prairie and canyons of this western landscape. Diverse national, state and local groups have, in recent years, invested in the historic and cultural assets of the area, joining forces to enhance the region's economy through the promotion of its storied heritage.

The Santa Fe Trail served as a trade route between Missouri and the Mexican frontiers from 1821 to 1880. Heritage travelers visit today to discover the magic and retrace authentic steps taken by merchants and traders on the way to Santa Fe. Recreate life along the Trail by visiting historic trading posts, stage coach ruins, visible wagon ruts, graves, ruins of Trail-era ranches and statues and monuments commemorating famous characters of the west. Today's travelers can explore the trail's history on the auto tour of the along this 184 mile corridor. History is plentiful and some our nations most treasured and undiscovered secrets still lie here on the Santa Fe Trail's Scenic and Historic Byway.

The purpose of the annual Colorado’s Most Endangered Places List is to build awareness of and assistance for endangered historic places. Five new sites were added to the list in 2006. Of the sixty places named to the list from 1998-2006, eight have been saved, forty-one have experienced forward progress in the form of rehabilitation, stabilization, protection, preservation planning and/or assessment. Of the other eleven, eight remain critical and three have been lost.

Colorado Preservation, Inc.’s Endangered Places Program provides technical assistance to organizations and individuals working to save structures, sites, and landscapes important to Colorado’s heritage.
Changing economics, development, lack of funding, vandalism and natural weathering are just a few of the threats to structures and landscapes sited by the fifty-five statewide sites listed since the first Colorado’s Most Endangered Places List in 1998. The purpose of the list is to help identify and save these sites. Colorado Preservation, Inc. received the Stephen H. Hart Award from the Colorado Historical Society for creating the list, and the Endangered Places Program is an official Save America’s Treasures Project.

Extraordinary effort on the part of hundreds of people makes production of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places List, as well as subsequent site progress, possible. Participants include CPI members and independent nominators, reviewers, supporters, investors, working committees, legislators, local governments, commercial businesses, organizations and foundations.

Colorado Preservation, Inc. is a statewide private nonprofit organization, established in 1984 to promote and advance historic preservation and protection of Colorado’s historic structures, sites and landscapes. CPI provides advocacy, technical assistance, awards for preservation excellence and the largest statewide historic preservation conference in the United States. Visit to learn more about their programs.


Colorado Preservation Inc. is planning to submit a nomination for National Trust. Mail your letter of support for the nomination to:

Mr. Richard Moe
National Trust for Historic Preservation Office of Communication
Most Endangered Places List
1785 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036