Trinidad in Las Animas County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
A Clash of Cultures
The trouble began with a challenge wrestling match here in the street on Christmas day, 1867. The match got rough; the mood turned ugly; shots were fired; an Anglo mortally wounded a Hispanic and fled. Arrested, he escaped to the hotel where most Anglos in town gathered to protect him while most Hispanics volunteered for Sheriff Gutierrez's posse.
Though sensible men on both sides attempted to negotiate peacefully, it took two troops of U.S. cavalry to quell this so-called "Trinidad War."
Just 13 years after the U.S. conquered this area from Mexico, a clash of cultures developed when Anglos and Hispanics settled here about the same time in 1861. They literally did not understand each other. Almost no Hispanics spoke English; few Anglos spoke any Spanish.
Racial prejudice was later compounded by immigrant coal miners from many nations in Europe, most of whom spoke neither language. Decades of education, good will, and intermarriage melded today's Trinidadians.
Location. 37° 10.075′ N, 104° 30.427′ W. Marker is in Trinidad, Colorado, in Las Animas County. Marker is at the intersection of West Main Street (U.S. 160) and North Beech Street, on the right when traveling west on West Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 231 West Main Street, Trinidad CO 81082, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Coal Miner's Canary (within shouting distance of this marker); Coal Miners' Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); The Santa Fe Trail (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Last Coal Burning Steam Engine (about 700 feet away); Trinidad's First City Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); Viet-Nam War Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); World War II Veterans Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); Welcome to Colorado - Trinidad Country / Trinidad - Army of the West (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Trinidad.
Regarding A Clash of Cultures. The year 1867 saw the Christmas Day War (aka Trinidad War) happen in Trinidad. The weather was very warm for that time of year and the men, having nothing to do after church was over, were going from bar to bar and generally causing a ruckus in town. One particularly obnoxious Anglo was challenging everyone to a boxing or wrestling match. A Hispanic fellow took him up on the offer and immediately pinned the man. Words were exchanged and rocks were thrown. Then Frank Blue, a stagecoach driver for Barlow-Sanderson, walked out of a bar and straight into a thrown rock. He pulled his gun and shot the Hispanic challenger dead. Blue was taken into custody by Sheriff Juan Gutierrez and placed in a vacant building, guarded by 6 Hispanics and 6 Anglos.
A few days later he was aided in an escape and his rescuers began firing on every Hispanic in sight. Fire was returned and every Anglo on the street rushed to hole up in P.B. Sherman's hotel on West Main at Beech Street. The sheriff and hundreds of Hispanics took up positions outside the hotel. Then 200 Utes rode into town and offered to assist the sheriff in removing the Anglos from the hotel. The sheriff politely refused so the Utes moved to a hilltop and watched from above. Blue and three companions escaped from the hotel in the middle of the night, taking most of the Anglos' ammunition with them. The next morning a truce was called and the rest of the Anglos were released. Dr. Michael Beshoar took no sides and treated the wounded from both sides. In his opinion "it was a case of bad booze and bad blood."
However, word had been sent to Fort Lyon and Fort Reynolds that a war was going on in Trinidad and military forces were needed to restore peace and order. Martial law was declared and troops were dispatched. En route, the temperature dropped to 26 below zero in a raging blizzard. Acting Governor Frank Hall made a trip to Trinidad to get an eye-witness account of the affair and commented that "Trinidad has the most frontier style of living in the whole of Colorado Territory."
Categories. • Hispanic Americans • Notable Events • Notable Places •
Credits. This page was last revised on December 17, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 17, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 200 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 17, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.