Saguache, Colorado

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Town of Saguache, Colorado
Town
4th Street, downtown Saguache.
4th Street, downtown Saguache.
Location in Saguache County and the state of Colorado
Location in Saguache County and the state of Colorado
Coordinates: 38°5′14″N 106°8′29″W / 38.08722°N 106.14139°W / 38.08722; -106.14139Coordinates: 38°5′14″N 106°8′29″W / 38.08722°N 106.14139°W / 38.08722; -106.14139
Country  United States
State  State of Colorado
County[1] Saguache Countyseat[2]
Incorporated August 13, 1891[3]
Government
 • Type Statutory Town[1]
Area
 • Total 0.4 sq mi (1 km2)
 • Land 0.4 sq mi (1 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 7,707 ft (2,349 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 493
 • Density 1,232.5/sq mi (493/km2)
Time zone MST (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP code[4] 81149
Area code(s) 719
FIPS code 08-67005
GNIS feature ID 0190217

The historic town of Saguache /səˈwæ/ is a Statutory Town that is the county seat and second most populous town of Saguache County, Colorado, United States.[5][6][7] The population was 493 at the U.S. Census 2010.

Name[edit]

According to a 2013 Denver Post article entitled, "What's in a Colorado name pronunciation?", the name Saguache (pronounced saw-watch) comes from a Ute language word meaning "blue earth or water at the blue earth". A Native American, Naranjo, explains the history of the name: "The Utes don't have an alphabet. The way the immigrants heard it, the way you hear it, is how they spelled it. The word is 'sə wŭp;' it means 'sand dunes.' But the immigrants couldn't pronounce it, so they called it 'sə wäch.' "[8]

But according to a 1995 letter to the editor of the Colorado Central Magazine, the name Saguache means “Blue earth — water at the blue earth.” The writer had written to correct an article in which the word was said to mean "green place", but according to the writer, the word comes from a shortened form of the Ute language word “Saguaguachipa.” The Ute tribe encampments were common in the area around the present-day community and the name "referred to springs in which blue earth was said to be found to the north". The Editors replied: "The Ute Dictionary, published in 1977 by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe of Ignacio, Colo., defines “sagwa-ci” [diacritical marks omitted] as “‘Saguache’, lit. ‘green place’; name of a town in the San Luis Valley in So. Colorado …”[9] One source states that the "blue earth" mentioned refers to a deposit of blue clay found near the creek.[10]

The Colorado State Historical Society has a little different take on the meaning: The note on a community monument: Saguache, “the name derived from the Indian word `Blue Water'."[9]

Geography and climate[edit]

Saguache is located at 38°5′14″N 106°8′29″W / 38.08722°N 106.14139°W / 38.08722; -106.14139 (38.087104, -106.141510).[11]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2), all of it land.

Climate data for Saguache, Colorado (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 35.4
(1.9)
39.9
(4.4)
49.8
(9.9)
58.8
(14.9)
67.1
(19.5)
76.1
(24.5)
79.9
(26.6)
77.2
(25.1)
71.4
(21.9)
61.1
(16.2)
47.2
(8.4)
35.8
(2.1)
58.3
(14.6)
Average low °F (°C) 5.4
(−14.8)
10.7
(−11.8)
20.5
(−6.4)
26.8
(−2.9)
35.3
(1.8)
43.1
(6.2)
49.0
(9.4)
48.0
(8.9)
39.5
(4.2)
29.4
(−1.4)
17.9
(−7.8)
6.9
(−13.9)
27.7
(−2.4)
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.23
(5.8)
0.21
(5.3)
0.39
(9.9)
0.56
(14.2)
0.62
(15.7)
0.59
(15)
1.29
(32.8)
1.81
(46)
1.09
(27.7)
0.65
(16.5)
0.35
(8.9)
0.26
(6.6)
8.05
(204.5)
Snowfall inches (cm) 3.5
(8.9)
3.7
(9.4)
3.9
(9.9)
1.8
(4.6)
0.5
(1.3)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.7
(1.8)
2.5
(6.4)
3.6
(9.1)
20.3
(51.6)
Source: NOAA[12]

History[edit]

Saguache is a small historical village located in an agricultural area in southern Colorado at the northern gateway to San Luis Valley, a valley between the Sangre de Cristo Range on the east and the San Juan Mountains to the west. Saguache Creek flows through the town from its beginnings high in the San Juan mountains. The site has been known for centuries to Native Americans who moved down from their summer homes in the mountains to the valley during the winter months. The Spanish began to move into the area in the 1600s and Spanish sheepherders passed through each year as they drove their flocks into the hills for summer grazing. Later the early white settlers and miners passed through this area, many seeking passage west along the Old Spanish Trail. In the mid-1860s, the first permanent white settlements were established in Saguache and the nearby town of Villa Grove. Saguache County was officially founded in 1866.

Ore wagons, San Juan Mountains

The formation of the town was influenced by the occupations and needs of the era. Beginning as a trading post, in the late 1800s mining became a significant influence as the Colorado mining boom brought hundreds of mining operations to the surrounding mountains and the miners needed a steady supply of food and other goods.[13]

The town was founded by Otto Mears, who came to Saquache in 1867. Mears constructed a wheat thresher and a grist mill for thrashing and grinding wheat to make flour to supply Saquache and the surrounding mines. He also built toll roads over the nearby mountain passes to use for hauling supplies to mining camps to the north, and to further open the area to settlement. The Saguache Town Company was formed in 1874 turning Saquache into a booming supply town. Mears also established a newspaper, the Saguache Chronicle, to attract pioneers to Saguache. He is most famous for his later work, the building of the famous Million Dollar Highway.[14][15]

Saguache today[edit]

Historic Saguache School and Jail Buildings

From its early days as a boom town, the population of Saguache has shrumk to around 500 residents. In its heyday, Saquache could boast of having "the Colorado Hall (serving the purest wines and liquors), the Saguache Meat Market, a boarding house, a grocery, law firms, a hardware store, a hotel, a sawmill, and The Saguache Chronicle newspaper."[13] After several name changes, The Saguache Chronicle eventually became The Saguache Crescent. The paper is still printed every week on a linotype press built in 1915, the only linotype still in use in the United States. It is also still the county’s “paper of record,” and is operated by a third generation descendant of the family who purchased it in 1917.[16]

The early sheep ranching eventually gave way to cattle and alfalfa hay production. Present day Saguache has "one school, a library, a museum, four churches, two gas stations, one liquor store, two grocery stores, two restaurants, a sawmill, and an organic farm."[13]

Attractions and Recreation[edit]

Saguache Ranger House - Circa 1939

As the gateway to the San Juan Mountains, home to the Rio Grande National Forest and the La Garita Wilderness Area, Saquache offers outdoor activities such as sightseeing, cycling, hiking and camping. Highway 114 to Cochetopa Pass follows the original Old Spanish Trail, offering stunning high country scenery and access to large tracts of public lands. Surrounded by four of the Colorado Fourteeners, Saquache still serves as a last stop for travelers, though of a different sort than those of the past.

Saguache has a small but excellent museum. According to the information they provide:

In a tribute to our forebears and in keeping with the work ethic embedded from our agricultural heritage, this Museum has won acclaim from visitors all over the United States, and most foreign countries. They say: “This is the best little historical museum we have ever seen!” Thanks to the handful of devoted folks who care for all the historical collections and items which tell the story of people of this area. The “homey” atmosphere, and the way the collections are displayed make you feel like you have stepped back a hundred years and will give you a sense of what it was like to live in pioneer days. There is something here for everyone, of all ages, to see, learn about, and enjoy."[17][18]

Demographics[edit]

As of the census[19] of 2000, there were 578 people, 262 households, and 160 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,510.7 people per square mile (587.3/km²). There were 328 housing units at an average density of 857.3 per square mile (333.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 79.93% White, 2.60% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 13.15% from other races, and 4.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 34.43% of the population.

There were 262 households out of which 26.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.4% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.73.

In the town the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 28.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 99.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $21,544, and the median income for a family was $30,221. Males had a median income of $24,306 versus $17,917 for females. The per capita income for the town was $14,139. About 13.7% of families and 18.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.6% of those under age 18 and 16.5% of those age 65 or over.

Trivia[edit]

Convicted cannibal Alferd Packer served time in the Saguache County Jail.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Active Colorado Municipalities". State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  2. ^ "Colorado County Seats". State of Colorado, Department of Public Health and Environment. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  3. ^ "Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. 2004-12-01. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  4. ^ "ZIP Code Lookup" (JavaScript/HTML). United States Postal Service. Retrieved January 1, 2008. 
  5. ^ The place name "Saguache" is pronounced /səˈwæ/. This name derives from the Ute language noun "sawup" /səˈwʌp/ meaning "blue earth or water at the blue earth". The Spanish language version of this name is usually spelled "Saguache", while the English language version is usually spelled "Sawatch".
  6. ^ Merkl, Dameon (February 26, 2013), "What's in a Colorado name pronunciation?", The Denver Post, retrieved March 7, 2013 
  7. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  8. ^ What's in a Colorado name pronunciation? - The Denver Post
  9. ^ a b What does ‘Saguache’ mean? | Colorado Central Magazine | Colorado news, stories, essays, history and more!
  10. ^ The American Counties: Origins of County Names, Dates of Creation, and ... - Joseph Nathan Kane, Charles Curry Aiken - Google Books
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  12. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c Discover Saguache County - Home
  14. ^ Mears, Otto
  15. ^ When Opportunity Knocked on Saguache’s Door | Colorado Central Magazine | Colorado news, stories, essays, history and more!
  16. ^ http://cozine.com/2009-august/last-of-the-hot-lead-papers/
  17. ^ Discover Saguache County - History
  18. ^ A Tour of the Saguache County Museum
  19. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links[edit]