VALLEY — The La Vereda del Norte Chapter of the Old Spanish National Trail Association had a successful and exciting year. From Saguache to San Luis, along the East Fork of the Old Spanish Trail, folks have participated in activities to promote a sign plan for the route. This is Heritage Tourism.
The Old Spanish Trail was used from 1829 to 1848 as an official trade route between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, California. Woolen textiles, woven in Northern New Mexico were traded for strong Californian mules and horses. There are three branches, the original Antonio Armijo Route, the Main Route and the North Branch.
The North Branch had two ancient routes which ran the length of the San Luis Valley. The East Fork coursed the open sage country along the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The other, the West Fork, traversed along the base of the San Juan. They met in Saguache and connected with the Main Route at Green River Utah.
In 1994 the Old Spanish Trail Association originated in Del Norte and in 2002 it was designated by Congress to become part of the National Historic Trails System.
With the efforts of Coreen Donnelly and Carol Clark, National Park Service sign plan coordinator from Santa Fe, a plan for the East Fork Trail has been formed for signage from the summit of North Cochetopa Pass to Costilla just north of the Colorado/New Mexico Border.
House Bill 18-1351 was recently passed by senators and representatives of the General Assembly of the State of Colorado “Concerning signage for the Old Spanish Trail.” Noted in the bill “it is the intent of the general assembly to recognize the complex history of the Old Spanish Trail and present the full history to the public for educational purposes.”
The East Fork Signage package has been presented to the Colorado Department of Transportation and county road jurisdictional authorities. Once funding is available local groups will be working with state departments of transportation, counties, cities, or other landowners/managers for installation.
This information was taken from a step-by-step guide to sign planning and implementation of the National Park Service and U.S Department of the Interior and from Correen Donnelly.
La Vereda del Norte Chapter Events for the 2018 summer
On Saturday July 15, 1806 a young Army Lieutenant left Ft. Bellefontaine, Missouri to begin an expedition that would forever change the southwestern United States. On August 18 Douglas Knudson will lead folks on a field trip to locate the area of explorer Zebulon Pike’s winter exploration in the San Luis Valley. Gather at the park entry gate of Great Sand Dunes National Park at 9:15. We will group caravan to the winter shelter across the valley.
On Saturday, August 25 he will lead us to Cerro de San Antonio (San Antonio Mountain, just south of the Colorado/New Mexico border, on US Hwy 285). San Antonio Mountain is west of the Highway and a route west of the mountain was used for thousands of years of travel. Discussion will be held by Suzanne Colville of historians Helen Blumenschein and Ruth Marie Colville who gathered historic data and impressions of this area for many years.
If the weather is good (usually) plan on bringing sandwiches and liquids. If weather is unbearable, we may retreat to an Antonito restaurant. High clearance vehicle is necessary. Bring plenty of water, etc. Preparation: La Vereda A Trail Through Time by Ruth Marie Colville (1995). This is available from the San Luis Valley Historical Society.
September 3-5 a tour will lead folks through southwestern Colorado complex and will follow the main branches of the Old Spanish Trail. A major feature will be Churro Sheep—the source of the wool used in the time period of the OST. One or more sheep farms in the four corners show their special sheep in national and Navajo contests each year. Some of the best should be at the Arriola Sunshine Farm, north of Cortez. The owners used to live and work in the San Luis Valley. Cindy, the main shepherdess now assists Navajo shepherds to help recuperate and show off this special kind of sheep-churro sheep. Call Douglas at 718-873-5239 for details.