Las Animas, Colorado
|City of Las Animas, Colorado|
|— City —|
|Bent County and the state of Colorado|
|State||State of Colorado|
|County||Bent County Seat|
|Incorporated||May 15, 1886|
|• Type||Statutory City|
|• Total||1.3 sq mi (3.3 km2)|
|• Land||1.3 sq mi (3.3 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Elevation||3,898 ft (1,188 m)|
|• Density||2,121.5/sq mi (835.8/km2)|
|Time zone||Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)|
|• Summer (DST)||MDT (UTC-6)|
|GNIS feature ID||0195526|
|Website||City of Las Animas|
The city of Las Animas is a Statutory City that is the county seat of, and the only incorporated municipality in, Bent County, Colorado, United States. The population was 2,410 at the 2010 census. Las Animas is located in southeast Colorado east of Pueblo, near the historic Bent's Fort. Las Animas is home to the Kit Carson Museum.
Geography and climate 
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2), all of it land.
|Climate data for Las Animas, Colorado (1981–2010)|
|Average high °F (°C)||47.7
|Average low °F (°C)||15.3
|Precipitation inches (mm)||0.39
|Snowfall inches (cm)||4.3
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,758 people, 1,091 households, and 716 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,134.2 people per square mile (825.5/km²). There were 1,264 housing units at an average density of 978.1 per square mile (378.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.87% White, 0.91% African American, 2.86% Native American, 0.58% Asian, 15.34% from other races, and 5.44% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 42.60% of the population.
There were 1,091 households out of which 31.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 30.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.3% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 24.0% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 117.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $26,157, and the median income for a family was $29,815. Males had a median income of $26,168 versus $23,250 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,893. About 19.7% of families and 25.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.3% of those under age 18 and 14.4% of those age 65 or over.
Historical perspective 
Las Animas is located on the Arkansas River, just west of the mouth of the Purgatory River at its confluence with the Arkansas.
A famous legend about the origin of the name of Las Animas says that the town, like the river, was named for a group of Conquistadors, probably part of Coronado's expedition, who died without the last rites sacrament of a priest. According to Catholic belief, their souls would go to Purgatory as a result. The original Spanish name for Las Animas ("The Souls," in Spanish) was purported to be La Ciudad de Las Animias Perdidos en Purgatorio, "The city of lost souls in Purgatory."
According to the book, Trinidad, Colorado Territory by Morris F. Taylor, this explanation is not consistent with Spanish Catholic belief. Souls in purgatory are not lost; they are in limbo for a short time of purification before ascending to heaven. According to Taylor, the French developed the connotation of souls in Purgatory.
The Spanish version, El Rio de las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio, was considered an embellishment of the French version. No 19th-century map shows this full Spanish name or any translation of it. Existing maps have different names for the river: Rio de Las Animas, Purgatory River, and "Picatoire," a corruption of Purgatoire (which today is anglicized as Picketwire). French fur traders of the 19th century referred to the river as the Purgatoire. Another anglicization was Pick of Ware.
Santa Fe Trail Day 
Las Animas sits along the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail and served as the major city in southeast Colorado until the Atichson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad established operations in La Junta, 20 miles to the west of Las Animas.
Las Animas celebrates an annual Santa Fe Trail Day, a celebration of the pioneers and traders who used this trail. This local holiday is the oldest Student Council-sponsored event in the US. The Las Animas High School Student Council organizes the day, with assistance from the Bent County Chamber of Commerce. Festivities have included a parade, a costume contest, square dancing, a demolition derby, and a traditional "Ranchburger" lunch, as well as many other activities. In past years, students have spread out events over a two-day period, sometimes making this a weekend event. The event occurs on the last Friday in April.
On April 24, 2009, Las Animas will celebrate its 75th Annual Santa Fe Trail Day with events throughout the weekend. Past Santa Fe Trail Day Queen Royalty, dating to the 1940s, have been invited, as well as Student Council Presidents since 1944. Other special events are planned with the assistance of the Bent County Chamber of Commerce.
Columbian Elementary School 
Built in 1916 to replace the old Columbian School (1887), Columbian Elementary School was the only building of Spanish architecture style in Las Animas. It was also the only open-courtyard school in the state of Colorado. In 2004, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places because of its significance, and, needing renovation for continued use, it was on the 2004 Colorado Preservation, Inc. List of Endangered Places.
Considered by the School Board to be too costly to renovate, this 90-year-old building was demolished on February 21, 2006. Following demolition, the school was delisted on July 26, 2006. The city constructed a new elementary school just west of the old school location.
Water issues 
Water is a central issue in Las Animas. Like many cities in southeastern Colorado, Las Animas competes with wealthier cities on the front range for the water to sustain life and the local agricultural economy. Developers and municipalities have capitalized upon drought and low crop prices by buying water from desperate farmers. As this water is diverted upstream to serve the larger cities, Las Animas loses access to this important resource.
Because of the poor quality of the city's water supply, a reverse-osmosis filtration plant was installed in the mid-1990s. The loss of minerals in the water resulted in the collapse of many water mains, which had been supported by mineral deposits that formed on the insides of the pipes.
Notable natives and residents 
- Levi Gruber, Guitar Shredder Extraordinaire
- Charles Bent, pioneer and fur trader from St. Louis, partner with St. Vrain, first governor of the New Mexico Territory
- William Bent, pioneer and fur trader, brother of Charles Bent and partner of St. Vrain
- Kit Carson, 19th-century pioneer
- Ken Curtis, actor; "Festus Haggen" on CBS's Gunsmoke
- Donetta Davidson, Colorado Secretary of State, 1999–2006
- Kenneth Kester, Colorado State Senator, District 2
- Mari Yoriko Sabusawa, wife of James Michener
- Ceran St. Vrain, St. Louis native and fur trader/merchant
- Dan Slater, Colorado political leader
- Llewellyn Thompson, U.S. Ambassador to Austria and Soviet Union. Ambassador Thompson Blvd, one of Las Animas' main streets, is named for him.
See also 
- Outline of Colorado
- State of Colorado
- Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
- Santa Fe National Historic Trail
- "Active Colorado Municipalities". State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
- "Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. 2004-12-01. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 04, 2013.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Taylor, Morris F. (1966). Trinidad, Colorado Territory. Pueblo, Colorado: O'Brien and Stationery Co. pp. 1–7.
- "Columbian Elementary School, Las Animas", National Park Service
- Mestas, Anthony A. "Old Columbian school falls to wrecker's ball", The Pueblo Chieftain, 25 February 2006
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- CDOT map of the City of Las Animas
- Bent County, Colorado
- Bent County Democrat
- Colorado Preservation, Inc, 2004
- National Register of Historic Places, Bent County