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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 president of the D&RG Construction Company, brought in many of Alamosa's early frame and log buildings on flatbed rail cars from Fort Garland, the previous end-of-track town, and plunked them down on newly platted lots. A few of these structures survive south of the tracks, at 312 and 411 8th Street and 621 9th Street. Where the east end of 9th Street terminates in the D&RG yards is a communal outdoor adobe oven.

In this semiarid country, the most conspicuous landmarks are water tanks: Alamosa's old rocket-shaped tank (1920s), fed by six deep artesian wells, is now rivaled on the skyline by a 1980s onion-shaped tank. This new bright blue and white tank is an indication of Alamosa's steady, if slow, growth to a 1990 population of 7,579. Growth in and around the city in recent decades is at least partly due to innovative new agricultural industries. Rakhra Mushroom Farms, which opened during the 1980s, is now one of the largest employers. Another local entrepreneur used the hot springs on his spread to start the San Luis Valley Alligator Ranch, 2 miles south of Hooper.

Nineteenth-century Alamosa favored Victorian architecture, but since the 1920s the town has taken a fancy to Hispanic styles. Local architects such as Philip Gallegos and Akira Kanawabe have used adobe and stucco in Southwestern designs, particularly for residential work.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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