Petitions to Validate the Cañon del Rio Colorado Land Grant

As with many of these early private land claims, the U.S. Land office was hesitant to confirm the grants because of the vague wording of the grants. Because the Spanish thought land was not valuable, their land grants were made in large quantities and natural objects and landmarks, which disappeared over time, were provided as […]

Mineral Resources Are Found Near Rio Colorado

Mining came to the Rio Colorado in the 1860s. The Ute Indians had long known mineral-rich areas throughout the San Luis Valley and, of course, earlier expeditions had gone north from Taos to find gold in the Valley. In 1866, the Utes went to Fort Union (east of Santa Fe) and used copper-rich ore to […]

The Railroad Comes to Northern New Mexico

The 1870s brought more surveyors for the railroad that would come eventually through just north of Rio Colorado. By 1876, rail for the narrow-gauge Denver & Rio Grande Railroad was approaching Cucharas to the north and La Veta. The next year it had extended to the Fort Garland area and a new town, Garland City, […]

The Indian Threat Ends

For almost a century, settlers in Rio Colorado had been subjected to the raids of Indian tribes. By the end of the 1870s, these raids were pretty much over. And throughout this long period there had been some cooperation with local Indians, particularly the Utes who had a camp just north of Rio Colorado and […]

The U.S. Army of West Arrives in New Mexico

Territorial Times in Rio Colorado U.S. President James Polk declared war on Mexico on May 13, 1846, and Col. Stephen W. Kearny’s Army of the West crossed into Mexican Territory on August 2, 1846, on his way to set up a civil government with Charles Bent at its head. On August 8, 1846, he was […]

The San Antonio del Rio Colorado Land Grant

A second group of settlers petitioned for a land grant on the Rio Colorado early in 1841, essentially for land that is now Questa proper. This petition was returned to the settlers by the Governor Manuel Armijo in a decree dated September 6th, 1841. “By order of his Excellency let the application of the petitioners […]

The Cañon del Rio Colorado Land Grant

The first attempt for this grant was the June 12, 1836 petition for land filed by Antonio Elias Armenta, Jose Victor Sanchez, and Jose Manuel Sanchez. According to the Posecion document, these settlers were “praying for a tract of land in grant for our livestock, it being the place of the Canon del Rio Colorado, […]

Vecinos on the Northern Frontier

Don Francisco Laforet (his last name has many spellings, including La Forett, Laforee, Laforey, and Laport) is said to have come to live in the Rio Colorado area in 1829. He built his house near the river, but Indian attacks soon forced him to move up to the ridge with other early settlers (67). His […]

Outside Influences

Exploration, Mapping, and the Fur Trade The turn of the 18th to 19th century was a pivotal point in the history of the Questa area. Spanish militia and settlers had finally reached this area still dominated by the Utes, Apaches, and Comanches. French trappers also penetrated the area as did new interlopers—European and American travelers […]

The Spanish Entrada and Northern New Spain

The Colonial Period With the arrival of Spain to the New World, the Questa area continued to be a crossroads, not only for Apaches, Utes, and Comanches, but now also for the Spanish explorers and missionaries. The first European to enter the Upper Rio Grande area and Sangre de Cristo Mountains was probably Francisco Vasquez […]