Conejos Communities

Conejos Country has five incorporated communities — Antonito, Manassa, Romeo, Sanford, and La Jara — and many unincorporated communities. Each has its own story.

Cumbres Toltec Water Tower & Engine in Antonito: Courtesy Julie Gallegos

San Rafael old adobe. There are no interior connection doors. Photo courtesy Julie Gallegos.

Guadalupe Mission in 1890 before the fire. Photo courtesy Julie Gallegos

Jack Dempsey Museum, Manassa. Phot courtesy Julie Gallegos

Jack Dempsey Museum, Manassa. Phot courtesy Julie Gallegos

Los Sauces Barber Shop. Photo courtesy Natalie Chavez

Los Sauces Barber Shop. Photo courtesy Natalie Chavez

Silo. Photo courtesy Julie Gallegos

Silo. Photo courtesy Julie Gallegos

Old train depot, La Jara. Photo courtesy Julie Gallegos

Old train depot, La Jara. Photo courtesy Julie Gallegos

Antonito: Antonito was founded when the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad built a station at the site, SW of the town of Conejos.

Conejos: A mile northwest of Antonito, the name means rabbits. People moved from Guadalupe across the Conejos River in 1855 since it was on higher and drier ground. It was the principal trading center in the area until Antonito was founded on the rail line. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was built in 1926 on the site of a burned adobe built in 1860. In1861, Conejos was the county seat of the newly created Colorado Territory.

Ortiz: Ortiz is six miles SE of Antonito and named after Nestor Ortiz who owned a store there.  It was homesteaded in the early 1870s by Jose Maria Casias, but attempts to settle the area may have been made since the early 1840s. Originally named Los Pinos, it was renamed in 1885 when the post office was opened in the Ortiz store.

Las Mesitas: Las Mesitas village was established in 1855, five miles west of Antonito — very near Mogote — by Juan de Dios Ruybul.

La Isla: La Isla, meaning the island, lies between the Conejos River on the north and the Rio San Antonio on the south and east. Celedonio Valdes, on of the petitioners for the Conejos Grant in 1835 owned much of the land in the area.

Mogote: Mogote, meaning peaked stacks of corn, was founded in 1854, six miles west of Guadalupe. It was a summer home for the Utes; the women and children stayed is the bosque while the men hunted.

San Rafael: The settlement, two miles west of Antonito, was established about 1856 by Vicente Velasquez and was a contemporary of Mogote and Las Mesitas. The original chapel built in 1859 was replaced by a new church in1929.

Canon: Two and one-half miles southwest of Mogote, it is east of the mouth of Conejos Canyon on the south side of the Conejos River. It was settled in the later 1860s.

Ceniceros/Lobatos: Ceniceros, meaning the pile of ashes, was named for the sand dunes at the base of the hills about eight miles southwest of the village. The first morada in the San Luis Valley was just south. Established in the mid 1850s, it was surrounded by an adobe wall for protection. Ceniceros was shorted to Cenicero and then in 1902 renamed Lobatos for Jesus Maria Lobato, the first postmaster. It is 3 miles east of Antonito on the road to Mesita.

La Florida: Meaning flowers, La Florida is east of Antonio and southeast of Lobatos, near the hills.

Guadalupe: Originally settled in 1854. The first houses were built of upright logs, known as jacales.

Manassa: Settled by the Mormons in 1874, the town is three miles NW of Los Cerritos.The Manassa Project has the mission to consolidate, preserve and share the history of Manassa, Colorado and its residents.

Los Cerritos: Los Cerritos, meaning little hills, is 1.5 miles SE of Manassa. Settled by Juan Maria Garcia and Pablito Martinez there were more than 38 families in 1878.

Los Rincones: The name means corners and is 3 miles southeast of Manassa and east of the Conejos River. It was settled between 1849 and 1851. By 1870 it had 23 taxpayers and had a  morada.

Espinoza: Originally called Los Fuerticitos (the ‘little fort”) of Incarnacio Espinosa, it provided protection from Indians. Located 2 and one-half miles south of Manassa, buildings were constructed of adobe.

Romeo: Settled by the Mormons in 1880.

Sanford: Settled by the Mormons in 1888.

Los Sauces: Los Sauces, meaning willows, was named for the willows along the Rio Grande. It is on the road between Conejos and Fort Garland. It was settled in 1863-64 by Antonio Marquez, Jose Rodriguez, and Fernando Borrego.

La Jara: La Jara, meaning rock rose, was named for the wild roses growing along the creek. Originally located about 6 miles from the present town, it is now located on the site of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad water tank.

Capulin: Capulin, meaning chokecherry, was named for the abundant chokecherries in the area. Several attempts were made to settle the area prior to 1867, but Native Americans prevented it.

Richfield: Founded by Mormons in 1882.

El Centrito: Located two miles west of Capulin, it was the center of a ranch area, a poblaciano.

Morgan: Morgan was settled by Mormons in 1886.

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