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Trinidad, Colorado, ca. 1907
Location within County and the State
|County||Las Animas County - seat|
|Incorporated||December 30, 1879|
|• Type||Home Rule Municipality|
|• Total||6.3 sq mi (16.3 km2)|
|• Land||6.3 sq mi (16.3 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Elevation||6,010 ft (1,832 m)|
|• Density||1,444/sq mi (557.1/km2)|
|Time zone||Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)|
|• Summer (DST)||MDT (UTC-6)|
|GNIS feature ID||0204811|
Trinidad is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Las Animas County, Colorado, United States. The population was 9,096 as of the 2010 census, up slightly from 9,078 in 2000. The estimate as of 2012 was 8,771. Trinidad lies 21 miles (33 kilometers) north of Raton, New Mexico and 195 miles (305 km) south of Denver.
On August 7, 1902, the Bowen Town coal mine, near Trinidad, experienced a horrific gas explosion, killing all 13 miners. At the time it was one of the worst mining disasters in the state.
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.
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. On the northern end of the town is Simpson's Rest, a prominent bluff named for early resident George Simpson, who is buried atop. North Avenue leads to a rut-prone county road to the top of Simpson's Rest for overviews of the city. The vista from Simpson's Rest includes Fisher's Peak, a prominent mountain of 9,600 feet (2,900 m) in elevation, southeast of the city. To the northwest are the prominent Spanish Peaks as well.
Trindad experiences a semi-arid climate, with hot summers and cold winters. Summers days are hot, but due to Trinidad's high elevation, summer nights are cool, and temperatures drop sharply after sunset. Winters are cold, but more mild than in many mountain towns in Colorado. In the winter, daytime highs are usually above freezing, but temperatures below zero are possible, especially at night.
|Climate data for Downtown Trinidad, Colorado|
|Record high °F (°C)||78
|Average high °F (°C)||48.5
|Average low °F (°C)||18.9
|Record low °F (°C)||−32
|Precipitation inches (mm)||0.46
|Source: The Western Regional Climate Center|
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,078 people, 3,701 households, and 2,335 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,439.4 people per square mile (555.5/km²). There were 4,126 housing units at an average density of 654.2 per square mile (252.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 79.97% White, 0.54% African American, 3.02% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 12.12% from other races, and 3.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 48.07% of the population.
There were 3,701 households out of which 29.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.9% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 18.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 92.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,681, and the median income for a family was $33,992. Males had a median income of $27,817 versus $19,064 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,271. About 16.2% of families and 18.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.6% of those under age 18 and 20.0% of those age 65 or over.
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.
- Stanley Biber, physician
- Marci Bowers, physician
- John Elway, famous Denver Broncos quarterback holds residence at famed Cougar Canyon Resort.
- John Gagliardi, a native, coached football while attending high school in Trinidad and playing on the squad; NCAA all-time, all-division winningest football coach.
- Erick Hawkins, leading American modern-dance choreographer and dancer was born in Trinidad.
- Snatam Kaur (singer of Sikh religious music) was born in Trinidad in 1972 and lived there until her family moved two years later.
- Cissy King, Dancer of The Lawrence Welk Show was born in Trinidad and lived there until the age of three.
- Ronnie Lane, Rock musician lived in Trinidad during the final years of his life.
- Bat Masterson, Old West gunman, was the town marshal of Trinidad for more than a year during the mid-1880s. His brother Jim Masterson, was town marshal during the 1880s.
- Arthur Roy Mitchell, Western artist was a Trinidad native. The Mitchell Museum in downtown Trinidad houses many of his major works.
- Erskine Sanford, actor most notable for his work with Orson Welles in films like Citizen Kane
- Bernard J. Sullivan, Roman Catholic bishop, was born in Trinidad in 1889.
- Alice Ivers Tubbs, frontier gambler known as "Poker Alice"
- Thomas Wilson was born in Trinidad in 1927 and lived there for seventeen months before moving to Glasgow, Scotland.
- Ed Wolff, American actor and circus giant
- Las Animas County, Colorado
- National Old Trails Road
- Santa Fe National Historic Trail
- Raton Pass
- Spanish Peaks
- "Active Colorado Municipalities". State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
- "Colorado County Seats". State of Colorado, Department of Public Health and Environment. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
- "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.
- "Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Information". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Kathy Weiser, "Poker Alice - Famous Frontier Gambler"". legendsofamerica.com. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
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- City of Trinidad
- Trinidad Community Website
- The Trinidad Times Independent, Current articles
- Bowen Mine Explosion (1902)
- CDOT map of Trinidad