***** San Luis *****
The oldest town in Colorado


San Luis Courthouse - County Seat for Costilla County
At the end of the Mexican war of 1848, the United States 

acquired an area that was called the New Mexico Territory 

(part of which is now Costilla County). 


Spanish-speaking Americans, settled the town of San Luis and 

had to guard it from Indians.  San Luis is the first permanent 

town in Colorado and was founded on June 21, 1851, 

the date of the annual Fiesta de San Luis. The original 

village was named after the Catholic Saint.


The oldest continuously operated business in Colorado is 

located in San Luis also, a general store now called the 

R&R Market. The market still stands at the same site where 

it was founded by Dario Gallegos in 1857.


San Luis is positioned 37.20 degrees North of the equator 

and 105.42 degrees West of the prime meridian. 

The population of San Luis is approximately 800. 

The approximate number of families is 350.


More historical, current and tourist 

information can be found at the following links:


SLV Famous Places


Historical - San Luis


Historical - Time Line


Historical - Costilla County


Historical - Maps (to current)


Complete San Luis Valley Links List

San Luis, Colorado has amazing historical sites 

as well as all the modern conveniences for visitors:


You will find at least two excellent restaurants for breakfast 

or lunch, a place for great traditional Mexican dinner and 

even a pizza parlor. San Luis also has a bank next to 

the Museum & Cultural Center. There is also two
gas stations in town to fill up before exploring the area.

For fishing & picnicking, Sanchez Reservoir is only 

about 10 minutes Southeast of town and 

is a state wildlife area nestled next to the mountains.


The San Luis Valley History


Millions of years ago, eruptions and massive earthquakes 

formed the largest alpine valley in the world, in which the 

floor lies 7,500 feet above sea level. The length of the valley 

from north to south is over 80 miles, and its greatest 

width is approximately 50 miles. Nestled high in the 

Colorado Rockies, protected by 14,000 foot peaks, the 

San Luis Valley offers breathtaking scenery year round. 

The San Juan Range on the west is the continental divide. 

The spiny Sangre de Cristo Range on the east is one of 

Colorado's tallest mountain ranges. Mt. Blanca, the fourth 

tallest peak in Colorado, at 14,345 feet, towers over the 

San Luis Valley. The valley floor is a semi-arid vista receiving 

approximately eight inches of moisture a year.


Early Spanish explorers and Native Americans are known to 

have passed through the Valley, each establishing small encampments 

and bound for bad luck. When Coronado, the famous Spanish
Conquistador, sought the fabled riches of Quivara, he came in contact
with the Indians of the San Luis Valley, who directed him east to the
fateful end of his expedition. Later, in 1708, Juan de Ulaterri claimed the
San Luis Valley for the king of Spain. In 1806, Zebulon Pike, after his
discovery of Pike's Peak, came into the San Luis Valley over Mosca
Pass not knowing that he was on Spanish soil. At Pike's Stockade,
south of Alamosa, he was captured and taken prisoner to Santa Fe.
Finally, in 1848, John Fremont led an ill-fated expedition into the San
Luis Valley, northwest of Alamosa, during harsh winter weather. He is
known to have gotten lost during his journey and disappeared.

In June of 1878 a narrow-gauge train loaded with expectant settlers
chugged west from Fort Garland to settle a new town on the Rio
Grande River at the center of the vast San Luis Valley. They found a
protected area shaded by cottonwood trees and named their new home
"Alamosa", which is Spanish for cottonwood. The Valley was settled
and began growing due to increased agricultural production.

Eventually, flatcars delivered lumber and hardware, and buildings went
up forming the new town. Over the next ten years rails were laid in all
four directions and Alamosa became a veritable center of the San Luis
Valley. The little town soon grew into a rail, agricultural mining and
educational center. The San Luis Valley is extremely important to
 Colorado and has played a key role in the settlement of the state.


San Luis Valley Map


Click for Interactive Map


The San Luis Valley of Colorado is located nearly centered on the 

Southerly State Line next to New Mexico. Although it appears 

flat and without relief, it is located at the high elevation of around 

7,500 feet above sea level. One unusual feature that you can see from 

the image above is that the valley is surrounded by mountains in 

almost every direction making it appear to be protected by geographic features. From a high altitude the SLV can be distinguished easily.





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