The county seat (1886, 3,893 feet) was named for El Río de Las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio (river of lost souls in purgatory), or, in French, Purgatoire River, which flows into the Arkansas River nearby. The town grew up along the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe railroad tracks during the early 1870s and eventually wrested the government seat from Boggsville, two miles south along the Santa Fe Trail. A fabled cow town, Las Animas was where herds driven up from Texas met Santa Fe cattle cars headed to Kansas City and Chicago stockyards. Now more economically diversified, the community is home for about half the county's residents. Area history is the focus of the Kit Carson Museum, 9th Street and Bent Avenue. The post office (1937, Louis A. Simon, OSA), 513 6th Street, is a yellow brick example of starved classicicism.
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