Tag Archives: coal

Trinidad, Colorado


This sign is on a bluff on the Northern end of Trinidad. The bluff is called Simpson’s Rest, and is named for early resident George Simpson, who is buried there. The sign is lit at night so folks don’t have to wonder where they are. My friends and I took North Avenue, which leads to a rut-prone county road to the top of Simpson’s Rest to visit the sign and look down onto the town. I took this photo while we were there.


This is the view of Trinidad from the mountain/hill where the big Trinidad sign stands.

This is the view of Trinidad from Simpson’s Rest, where the big Trinidad sign stands. I took this photo too.

I took a trip to Trinidad, Colorado to visit friends who had moved there from Austin, Texas.

Trinidad is a small town (population 8,465, as of 2013) in Las Animas County, Colorado. It is the most populous town in the county and the county seat.

Trinidad is situated in the Purgatoire River valley in far southern Colorado at an elevation of 6,025 feet (1,836 m). The city lies 13 miles north of the New Mexico border.

Trinidad bricks. Photo by me.

Trinidad first became a town because of the Santa Fe trail. The town grew as a resupply stop on the Santa Fe trail. In 1862, coal was found in the region and lots of people (primarily immigrants) flocked to the area and to Trinidad to work in the mines and make money off of the people who worked in the mines.

When I told a friend in Northern New Mexico that my Austin friends had moved to Trinidad, he only wanted to talk about sex change operations. From Wikipedia:

Trinidad was dubbed the “Sex Change Capital of the World” because a local doctor had an international reputation for performing sex reassignment surgery. In the 1960s, Dr. Stanley Biber, a veteran surgeon returning from Korea, decided to move to Trinidad because he had heard that the town needed a surgeon. In 1969 a local social worker asked him if he would perform the surgery for her, which he learned by consulting diagrams and a New York surgeon. Biber attained a reputation as a good surgeon at a time when very few doctors performed the operations. At his peak, Biber was performing roughly four sex change operations a day, and the term “taking a trip to Trinidad” became a euphemism for some seeking the procedures he offered. His surgical practice was taken over in 2003 by Marci Bowers. Biber was featured in an episode of South Park where elementary school teacher Mr. Garrison undergoes a sex change operation. Dr. Bowers has since moved the practice to San Mateo, California. The 2008 documentary Trinidad focuses on Marci Bowers and two of her patients.”

Here's a view of Simpson's Rest from the other side of town. You can see just see the Trinidad sign, which is tiny in this photo that I took from the Ave Maria Shrine.

Here’s a view of Simpson’s Rest from the other side of town. You can see just see the Trinidad sign, which is tiny in this photo that I took from the Ave Maria Shrine.

Also from Wikipedia:

For many years Trinidad housed the miners who worked in the coal mines of the Raton Basin south and west of the town. The coal mines are now closed, but since the 1980s companies have been drilling new gas wells to extract coalbed methane from the remaining coal seams.

Trinidad’s location at the foot of Raton Pass, along the Santa Fe Trail between St. Joseph, Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico, has always made it a favored route for travellers, first by foot, then horse and ox-drawn wagon, then by railroad. Today Interstate 25, the most highly traveled route between Colorado and New Mexico, passes through Trinidad, and was recently reconstructed through the city to upgrade the aging raised viaduct in which the highway used to go through city.

I used the Wikipedia article about Trinidad quite a bit to jog my memory and find statistics about the town.

I took all of the photos in this post.