The City of Las Animas is the Statutory City that is the county seat and the only incorporated municipality in Bent County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 2,410 at the 2010 United States Census. Las Animas is located on the Arkansas River, just west of its confluence with the Purgatoire River (or "Purgatory River"), in southeast Colorado east of Pueblo, near the historic Bent's Fort.


According to legend, the town and the Purgatoire River were named after a group of conquistadors, probably part of Coronado's expedition, who died without the last rites sacrament of a priest. According to Catholic belief, their souls would go to Purgatory as a result. The original Spanish name for ''Las Ánimas'' ("The Souls," in Spanish) was purported to be ''La Ciudad de Las Ánimas Perdidas en Purgatorio,'' "The city of lost souls in Purgatory." However, according to author Morris F. Taylor, this is not consistent with Spanish Catholic belief, but a French Catholic belief. The Spanish version, ''El Río de las Ánimas Perdidas en Purgatorio,'' was considered an embellishment of the French version. No 19th-century map shows this full Spanish name or any translation of it. Existing maps have different names for the river: ''Río de Las Ánimas,'' Purgatory River, and "Picatoire", a corruption of ''Purgatoire'' (which today is anglicized as Picketwire). French fur traders of the 19th century referred to the river as the ''Purgatoire''. Another anglicization was Pick of Ware.


Early settlement

Gantt's Picket Post, also known as Fort Gantt, was built near the present-day Las Animas in 1832, operating as a trading post until 1834. The second Fort Lyon military post was built in Las Animas in 1867. It operated until 1897.

Water issues

Water is a central issue in Las Animas. Like many cities in southeastern Colorado, Las Animas competes with wealthier cities on the Front Range for the water to sustain life and the local agricultural economy. Developers and municipalities have capitalized upon drought and low crop prices by buying water from desperate farmers. As this water is diverted upstream to serve the larger cities, Las Animas loses access to this important resource. Because of the poor quality of the city's water supply, a reverse-osmosis filtration plant was installed in the mid-1990s. The loss of minerals in the water resulted in the collapse of many water mains, which had been supported by mineral deposits that formed on the insides of the pipes.


Las Animas is located in northwest Bent County at (38.066980, -103.225937), along the Arkansas River. U.S. Highway 50 is the main highway through the city, leading west to Pueblo and east to Lamar. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which is land and , or 2.75%, is water.


Las Animas is often one of the warmest cities in Colorado, however winters can still be quite cold. The record low temperature in Las Animas of occurred most recently on January 28, 1948. The record high temperature for Las Animas is and occurred most recently on June 24, 2012. Each year there are roughly 74 afternoons that hit or hotter, with sixteen reaching at least .http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/weatherall.php3?s=745303&cityname=Las+Animas%2C+Colorado%2C+United+States+of+America&units= Retrieved 16 June 2015./ref> The record for lowest maximum temperature was on December 20, 1924, when the high was . On the other end of the spectrum, Las Animas’ hottest minimum temperature occurred August 2, 1935, with a low of .


200px|right|thumb|St. Mary's Catholic Church in Las Animas As of the census of 2000, there were 2,758 people, 1,091 households, and 716 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,134.2 people per square mile (825.5/km). There were 1,264 housing units at an average density of 978.1 per square mile (378.3/km). The racial makeup of the city was 74.87% White, 0.91% African American, 2.86% Native American, 0.58% Asian, 15.34% from other races, and 5.44% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 42.60% of the population. There were 1,091 households, out of which 31.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 30.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.04. In the city, the population was spread out, with 27.3% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 24.0% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 117.8 males. The median income for a household in the city was $26,157, and the median income for a family was $29,815. Males had a median income of $26,168 versus $23,250 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,893. About 19.7% of families and 25.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.3% of those under age 18 and 14.4% of those age 65 or over.

Santa Fe Trail Day

Las Animas sits along the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail and served as the major city in southeast Colorado until the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad established operations in La Junta, to the west of Las Animas. Las Animas celebrates an annual Santa Fe Trail Day, a celebration of the pioneers and traders who used this trail. This local holiday is the oldest student council-sponsored event in the US. The Las Animas High School Student Council organizes the day, with assistance from the Bent County Chamber of Commerce. Festivities have included a parade, a costume contest, square dancing, a demolition derby, and a traditional "Ranchburger" lunch, as well as many other activities. In past years, students have spread out events over a two-day period, sometimes making this a weekend event. The event occurs on the last Friday in April. On April 24, 2009, Las Animas celebrated its 75th Annual Santa Fe Trail Day with events throughout the weekend. Past Santa Fe Trail Day Queen Royalty, dating to the 1940s, were invited, as well as Student Council Presidents since 1944.


right|thumb|200px|Columbian Elementary School (1916), photographed 2005 ;Columbian Elementary School Built in 1916 to replace the old Columbian School (1887), Columbian Elementary School was the only building of Spanish architecture style in Las Animas. It was also the only open-courtyard school in the state of Colorado. In 2004, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places because of its significance, and, needing renovation for continued use, it was on the 2004 Colorado Preservation, Inc. List of Endangered Places. Considered by the School Board and all but a handful of citizens to be too costly to renovate, this 90-year-old building was demolished on February 21, 2006.Mestas, Anthony A. "Old Columbian school falls to wrecker's ball"
''The Pueblo Chieftain'', 25 February 2006
Following demolition, the school was delisted on July 26, 2006."Columbian Elementary School, Las Animas"
National Park Service
The city constructed a new elementary school just west of the old school location.


Las Animas is incorporated into the Bustang's network. It is part of Lamar-Pueblo-Colorado Springs Outrider line.

Notable people

Notable individuals who were born in or have lived in Las Animas include fur trader and rancher William Bent, actor and singer Ken Curtis, and editor and arts patron Mari Yoriko Sabusawa.

See also

*Outline of Colorado **Index of Colorado-related articles *State of Colorado **Colorado cities and towns ***Colorado municipalities **Colorado counties ***Bent County, Colorado *Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site *Santa Fe National Historic Trail


External links

CDOT map of the City of Las AnimasBent County Development Foundation''Bent County Democrat''Unofficial Las Animas website
{{authority control Category:Cities in Bent County, Colorado Category:Cities in Colorado Category:County seats in Colorado Category:Colorado populated places on the Arkansas River