Wednesday, September 15, 2010

La Veta, Colorado

We put Denver in the rear view and headed south on Hwy 25. We passed through Colorado Springs and Pueblo, then turned at Walsenburg and went west to La Veta. We stayed with Marie's cousin, and we liked the area so much we decided to stay a couple of days.

We took a side trip on Hwy 12 over La Veta Pass (elev. 9413 ft.) through the small towns of Cuchara, Vigil, Weston, Segundo and Cokedale. A feature of the area is rock walls called dikes that radiate out from a central hub like a wheel. The theory is that rising lava lifted the ground but did not erupt. Molten rock then flowed into the cracks of the lifted ground and solidified into the rock walls.

The road is good and views panoramic.

We started seeing black rock strata on road cuts. We thought it might be coal, but we are Californians and weren't sure. Then we came to Cokedale and it all became clear. It was coal and they mined it around here at one time. Coke ovens, last used in the 1940's, were still there. Coal is baked in ovens at very high temperature, impurities are driven off and Coke is the result. Coke is then used in blast furnaces to make steel (so now you know and stop smirking).

The City of Trinidad was built with red brick and the older part of the city even has red brick paved streets. Trinidad is on Hwy 25 and we headed north, through Walseburg and to back to La Veta.
The Ute Indians had a unique name for the mountains above La Vita. They called the mountains
"Huajatolla" pronounced "Wah-ah-TOY-ah." In the Ute language Wuajatolla means "world class tits." The mountains are now called the east and west Spanish Peaks. I like the Ute name better.

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