Great Risk for Great Reward
Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic & Historic Byway
In an attempt to settle unknown territory, the Mexican government offered a large gift of land, la merced, for anyone brave enough to attempt to settle the San Luis Valley. Mexican land grants made it possible for even a poor man to establish a homestead. The pobladores, or land grant settlers, lived a communal, self-sufficient lifestyle, on narrow strips of land called varas.
"Our land grant pueblitos, or little villages, always began with the establishment of our church, or iglesia, and plaza as the spiritual and cultural center of everyday life. Under the sharp eye and wisdom of the mayordomo, or ditch rider, we shared a system of 'acequias', or irrigation ditches, that watered our crops."
"Our vega, or common grazing land, supported our livestock and the foothills provided plenty of leña, or firewood, and hunting. The acequias that our ancestors dug by hand over 100 years ago, still water our fields today."
The People of the San Luis Valley
Today, residents of the valley still claim to stumble upon the rock markers and wooden corner posts that
[Lower left background photo caption reads]
San Luis as it looked in 1887. The Town of San Luis sat within the 998,780.46 acre Sangre de Cristo Land Grant.
[Photo captions, clockwise from left center, read]
• The San Luis People's Ditch, or Acequia de la Gente, was established in 1852, making it the most senior water decree in Colorado. It has been in use since that time.
• A 1911 drawing of varas illustrates how every parciante, holder of the water right, was given access to river or ditch water.
• The partido, or sharing system, was a traditional way to manage livestock. The patrón, or owner of the flocks, placed sheep in the care of a partidario, who took care of the sheep and was paid with a percentage of the lambs' wool he could produce.
Erected by CO Scenic Byways, CO Historical Society, CO Parks & Wildlife, CO DOT, The Nature Conservancy, and DOI Agencies.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Hispanic Americans • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 37° 39.765′ N, 105° 52.219′ W. Marker is in Mosca, Colorado,
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Welcome "Caminante" to... (here, next to this marker); Los Caminos Antiguos (here, next to this marker); Who Owns This Land? (here, next to this marker); Lt. Zebulon Pike's Southwestern Expedition (a few steps from this marker); "Old Mose" (approx. 13.1 miles away); 1988 NAIA Division 1 National Championship Runner-Up (approx. 13.1 miles away); Millstone, c. 1845 (approx. 13.3 miles away); Alamosa (approx. 13.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mosca.
Also see . . .
1. Landmark Ruling on the Sangre de Cristo grant Affirming the Rights of Access for.... (Submitted on November 22, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway. (Submitted on November 22, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. San Luis Peoples' Ditch, San Luis, Costilla County, CO (Library of Congress). (Submitted on November 22, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. Chapter V Early Agricultural Settlement, in Land of Contrast: A History of Southeast Colorado. (Submitted on November 22, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
5. Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. (Submitted on November 22, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 22, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 22, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 36 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 22, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.