|Highway of Legends!|
The first part of the loop, starting outside of Trinidad was very much like driving through Appalachia with visible seams of coal in the roadside cuts and oppressive poverty with abandoned buildings and junked cars providing homes for weeds in the unkempt yards. There was much poverty here, with much money in the land up and away from the road, funding weekend farms and get away cabins just up the mountain behind them.
|Welcome to Cokedale|
A quick drive takes you through Cokedale's community neighborhoods, by the old school house, and around the old miner's office and the (privately owned) Gottlieb Mercantile Company. This was once a model mining community with a population of 1500 in 1909. Founded in 1906, it operated over 40 years to when the company sold out in 1947 due to a decrease in the sale of coal. During those years the coke ovens ran 24 hours daily. 2 mines provided coal from above the town with another providing coal from a few miles away. Coke was made by first washing the mined coal, then cooking the coal to remove impurities and moisture, so it will burn hotter in the iron smelters to make steel. Slag is the byproduct of coke, and is mostly made up of slate and sulfur. There used to be a trolley into Trinidad, serving the miners, costing a quarter for the 1.5 hour ride.
|Coal Washery remains|
|The rows of Coke Ovens|
|Gottlieb Mercantile Company|
|Mounds of slag|
|The stone wall at Stonewall|
|Through these gates were kept WWII Prisoners|
Just a few miles on down the road is the Town of Cuchara in three separate areas. You can check out the local places like Dakota Dukes or the Cuchara Country Store while in the area.
Following Highway 12 on down the mountain brings you past several of the stone dikes, one with Gollum stuck in it : )
|One of the many mountain lakes along Highway 12|
|Lots of Aspen, pines and views|
|That's Gollum in the dike!!!|
Near highway 160 you find La Veta, another fine mountain community nestled along the base of the Spanish Peaks. Taking a right along US 160 takes you to Walsenburg and the end of the Highway of Legends.
|The Spanish Peaks under snow|