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Place-based Essays

Essays in SAH Archipedia are broadly grouped as either place-based or thematic. Place-based essays include overviews of architecture in specific U.S. states and cities. Thematic essays examine architectural and urban issues within and across state and regional boundaries. Like individual building entries, essays are accompanied by rich subject metadata, so you can browse them by style, type, and period. SAH Archipedia essays are comprised of peer-reviewed scholarship (born-digital and print-based) contributed by architectural historians nationwide.

La Junta

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1875, 4,066 feet) was originally King's Ferry, established in the 1840s as a place for Santa Fe trail travelers to cross the Arkansas River. The early 1870s railroad tent camp called Otero was renamed La Junta (Spanish for junction) because both the Santa Fe Trail and...

Fowler

By: Thomas J. Noel

Fowler (1882, 4,341 feet) was named for Orson S. Fowler, who set up the Fowler Ditch Company, acquired large real estate holdings, and platted the town. He was also a professor who specialized in phrenology, physiology, and horticulture. The town's original grid paralleled the railroad...

Rocky Ford

By: Thomas J. Noel

In Rocky Ford (1871, 4,178 feet) George Washington Swink (1836–1910) first planted watermelons as a crop in 1877 and helped to develop the hybrid orange-fleshed cantaloupe in 1884, as well as the honeydew melon, developed in 1916. Melon production peaked at 3,000 railroad carloads in...

Crowley County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Created from a portion of Otero County in 1911, this high plains county began to be settled in 1887, when the Missouri Pacific line from Kansas City was extended to Pueblo. The MP fostered many towns of which Sugar City, Ordway, Crowley, and Olney Springs remain in a county whose...

Ordway

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1890, 4,312 feet) was named for George N. Ordway, a Denver president of the company that developed the area. The town's showplace was a large frame house boasting twenty-five rooms, forty-eight windows, and, oddly, fifty-three doors. It was dismantled in 1931, and the...

Kiowa County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Dry-land farmers and ranchers have replaced the Kiowa tribe in Kiowa County (1889), a rural region of small, unincorporated communities. Eads, the county seat, has a stockyard and grain elevators and is the primary rail shipping center for a county once served by the Burlington, the...

Eads

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1887, 4,213 feet) was founded with the arrival of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and named for James B. Eads, a noted Civil War army engineer who built the Eads Bridge, the first bridge across the Mississippi River, at St. Louis. Although not incorporated until 1916, Eads...

Haswell

By: Thomas J. Noel

Haswell (1903, 4,538 feet) has a small, relatively unchanged business district representative of the restrained vernacular favored in the early twentieth century. The crossgabled, frame Homestead House, moved in 1913 to Main Street north of the tracks, is highlighted by a simple bracket...

Cheyenne County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Cheyenne County, established in 1889, lies in rolling plains along the Kansas border. The town of Kit Carson became an early supply town on the Smoky Hill Trail, a gold rush and immigrant route that crossed the county. Live-Stock raising and dry-land farming have become the principal...

Cheyenne Wells

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1876, 4,296 feet) was named for wells Cheyenne Indians had dug on the original townsite five miles north on the Smoky Hill Route. The town moved here to accommodate the Kansas Pacific Railroad and developed a water system (1887), a hotel (1888), and streetlights...

Kit Carson

By: Thomas J. Noel

Kit Carson (1869, 4,285 feet), named for the western scout and guide, began as a Kansas Pacific railroad settlement with a large number of tents and dugouts. The original (1869) town stood three miles west of the present site on the banks of Sand Creek. The track and the town moved...

The Rio Grande

By: Thomas J. Noel

Walk quietly, Coyote,
The practical people are coming now
Into the juniper, into the sage arroyos,
Where the smoke is sweeter than anywhere
And the mud is ready for building …
While the Puritans over in England
Are getting ready to whisper,...

Alamosa County

By: Thomas J. Noel

The last county (1913) created in Colorado received the same name as the county seat, Alamosa (Spanish for cottonwood tree grove). The town was founded by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in 1878 as its regional headquarters. Ultimately as many as 700 railroaders worked in Alamosa...

Alamosa

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1878, 7,574 feet) was established after the D&RG land company bought a 1,608-acre townsite on the west bank of the Rio Grande and laid out a grid city promoted as a new Garden of Eden. Town founder Alexander C. Hunt, a former territorial governor of Colorado and...

Hooper

By: Thomas J. Noel

Hooper (1891, 7,553 feet) was named for Major Shadrach K. Hooper, D&RG general passenger and ticket agent. Major Hooper launched the first massive national promotion of Colorado tourism. He hired Colorado writers such as William E. Pabor, Patience Stapleton, and Stanley Wood for the...

Costilla County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Costilla (Spanish, rib) County is centered on the Culebra (Spanish, snake) River, a tributary of the Rio Grande. It is the oldest continually inhabited county in the state and has the highest percentage (80) of Spanish-surnamed residents.

Farmers and ranchers came in the 1850s...

San Luis

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1851, 7,965 feet), the oldest permanent town in Colorado, also claims the state's oldest operating water ditch and only common, the Vega. The Spanish named the town (originally La Plaza de San Luis de la Culebra) and the valley for King Louis IX of France, because the...

Blanca

By: Thomas J. Noel

Blanca (1908, 7,746 feet) was named for nearby Mount Blanca, a huge, snowcapped massif soaring to 14,345 feet with four lower shoulders over 14,000 feet high. Blanca became the northernmost terminus and home base of the San Luis Southern Railway (1910–1959), which joined the D&RG here...

Chama

By: Thomas J. Noel

This Culebra Creek community (c. 1864, 6,420 feet), settled by families from Chamita, New Mexico, has some of the valley's least altered adobe buildings. In the Lobato-Mascarenas House (1880), northeast of Costilla County L.7 and 22.3, across from the old post office, typical alterations...

Fort Garland

By: Thomas J. Noel

The army post of Fort Garland (1858, 7,936 feet) replaced Fort Massachusetts (1852–1858), 8 miles north on Ute Creek. Initially built to provide protection from the Utes, the fort attracted settlers and merchants. The D&RG arrived in 1878, and “Garland City” briefly flourished...

Garcia

By: Thomas J. Noel

Garcia (1849?, 7,693 feet; on Costilla County B, .8 mile west of Colorado 159 and 18 miles south of San Luis) was originally called La Plaza de los Manzanares. According to local historians Olibama López Tushar and Virginia McConnell Simmons, this, not San Luis, is the oldest permanently...

San Isidro

By: Thomas J. Noel

San Isidro (c. 1853), also known as Fuertocito (little fort) for a vanished log structure, is a hamlet of a few farms, ranches, and houses, many of adobe. The Sanchez House (1890), Costilla County K.5, .2 mile east of Costilla County 22.3, is a one-and-one-half-story, L-shaped...

San Acacio

By: Thomas J. Noel

San Acacio (1909, 7,820 feet) was also known as New San Acacio after it relocated around the railroad depot. The move was promoted by the Costilla Estates Development Company, which invested $327,000 in a 31-mile railroad as part of a speculative real estate venture in irrigated...

Viejo San Acacio

By: Thomas J. Noel

Viejo San Acacio (1853, 7,820 feet) was founded only after efforts in the 1840s to establish a town here on Culebra Creek failed because of resistance from the Ute Indians. Settlers were finally successful, according to local folklore, because their patron, San Acacio, a Roman...

Conejos County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Hispanic folklore has Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico, guiding colonists to the banks of the Conejos (Spanish, rabbits) River, which runs fast as a jackrabbit down from the San Juan Mountains into the Rio Grande. When Hispanic settlers first rested on the cottonwood-...

Conejos

By: Thomas J. Noel

A flour mill, a sawmill, and a famous church helped make this unincorporated hamlet (1854, 7,882 feet) the county seat. It still retains some of its original plaza configuration with a modern county courthouse that replaces an old one destroyed by fire in the 1970s. The Garcia House (...

Antonito

By: Thomas J. Noel

Antonito (1880, 7,888 feet) was established by the D&RG a mile away from the county seat of Conejos as a railroad ploy to gain control of trackside real estate. D&RG promoters platted Antonito as a grid with Main Street a block west of and parallel to the tracks. Antonito was an...

Mogote

By: Thomas J. Noel

Mogote (1856, 7,900 feet), an unincorporated hamlet on the Conejos River, was named by New Mexican farmers for a small, triple-peaked mountain nearby that reminded them of bundled sheaves of grain. Although the post office closed in 1920, a few descendants of the original settlers remain...

La Jara

By: Thomas J. Noel

La Jara (1880, 7,602 feet), named in Spanish for the local willows, started with a D&RG water tank before a station was built in 1883. The La Jara Town Company platted areas on both sides of the tracks for an agricultural community. An artesian well was drilled on the east side of...

Rio Grande County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Created in 1874, Rio Grande County emerged as a supply center for the mining rushes to the San Juan Mountains. Del Norte quickly claimed the county seat, although Monte Vista ultimately became the larger town. The eastern half of the county is level agricultural land watered by the...

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