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About La Veta

La Veta, Colorado




The Town of La Veta is a Statutory Town in Huerfano County, Colorado, United States. The town population was 800 as of the 2010 United States Census.





Town of La Veta, Colorado
Spanish for The Vein (geology)
Statutory Town
Old Ritter Schoolhouse, built 1876
Old Ritter Schoolhouse, built 1876
Location in Huerfano County and the state of Colorado
Location in Huerfano County and the state of Colorado







Colonel John Francisco (1820–1902) and Judge Henry Daigre (1832–1902) formed a partnership and purchased land under the Vigil-St. Vrain Land Grant in 1868. The land was located on a Native American trail used by the Ute People (and earlier the Comanche People). Joined by Hiram Washington Vasquez (1843–1939), Francisco and Daigre built a plaza known as Francisco Fort to supply the Denver mining camps with products from ranching and farming. Ranches and farms like that of the Bela and Fain families were located nearby.

In Spanish, La Veta translates as “the mineral vein”—an appropriate name given the town's association with mining claims such as the abandoned mining camp of Ojo, which is located a few miles from the town and whose concrete foundations can still be seen upon close inspection. Hiram Vasquez said that the town was named by Mexican settlers from a vein of white mineral which they called “La Veta Tierra Blanca”.

By 1876 the Denver and Rio Grande Railway Company—later the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad—built a narrow gauge railroad through a right-of-way to the plaza and 200 acres (0.81 km2) for a town site donated by Francisco and Daigre. The tracks continued put of La Veta over what is known today as “Old La Veta Pass”, completing a trek up to an elevation of 9,382 feet (2,860 m) to a depot built by 1877. The train continued west into the San Luis Valley. In 1899 The railroad converted the rails to standard gauge and rerouted the rails to Veta Pass, 9,242 feet (2,817 m), 9 miles south of La Veta Pass. The old narrow gauge roadbed was converted to a wagon road.

Today, "Uptop Ghost Town" has been created from the old historic buildings. Though gravel, it can still be traversed by passenger vehicles in good conditions (NOT in winter snow). Another pass, dubbed North La Veta Pass (9,413 ft.), two miles north of La Veta Pass, is traversed by US Highway 160, which is paved the entire way.






OLD LA VETA PASS ..."History of Yesterday & Today"






Art Gallery in La Veta, 2014






Overall History: Before there was a railroad, the several Native American tribes hunted and traveled through the forests covering the mountain pass on their way to Mt. Blanca. Then the woods were discovered by botanists collecting plants for Harvard College. Next, the Denver & Rio Grande Narrow Gauge Railroad was built in 1877 (Rails & Depot) over the Sangre de Cristos/Rockies. The D&RG Railroad was active from 1877 to 1900 when the railroad over Veta Pass was decommissioned & the rails and ties removed (1900). In the absence of rails the beautifully constructed dirt road became one of the few roads crossing the Rocky Mountains for early automobile trips. The Trujillo Family homesteaded the land and attracted the new tourists of their age. The Veta Pass Road became so busy, the Highway Department built a paved road over Veta Pass around the 1920-30's and named it Highway 160. In 1964, Highway 160 was pushed further north to a flatter course. It was paved and became known as "North La Veta Pass," while "Veta Pass" ("La Veta Pass") became known as "Old La Veta Pass." In 2000, "Uptop Ghost Town" was created from the old buildings.

Train History: The 1877 Depot was erected for a Depot Manager to live in so he could coordinate the train route & schedule. This railroad was used by the Calvery heading west to Ft. Garland; Chief Ourey and his wife Chipeta traveling east to Washington, D.C.; early tourists riding "The Railroad Above The Clouds" to collect flowers; and farm owners to ship local produce coming out of the San Luis Valley on the railroads heading to Denver and other large cities. Those tracks traversed points on the railroad known as "Mule Shoe Curve" (which was the tighest curve for a narrow gauge railroad at the time); "Lookout Point" also known as "Windy Point" and/or "Dump Mountain" (where all the 1877 D&RG railroad waste was dumped).

Today's History: The current day history of "Old La Veta Pass" includes "Uptop Ghost Town". The history has been preserved in the ghost town buildings which include: the Chapel, Tavern, Dance Hall, School House, Patriarch's Homestead, Barn and other out buildings. "Uptop Ghost Town" has been a part of current day history with the activities: summer tours, weddings, reunions, company gatherings.

In 1878, Helen Hunt Jackson wrote lovingly about her journey to the top of "Old La Veta Pass":

“From the mouth of the pass to the summit is

Measured in miles – fourteen miles;

Measured in hours – three hours;

Measured in sensations – the length of a dream.”












Goss Homestead barn, near La Veta. The Goss family settled in Huerfano County in the late 19th century.








The original stone D&RG Depot was built in 1877 as part of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad narrow-gauge railroad erected on what is today called Old La Veta Pass and "Uptop Ghost Town"







Pronghorn near La Veta, 2014






SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Veta,_Colorado

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