Another addition to my list of Old Catholic churches. This is San Isadore Church in Las Mesitas, Colorado, destroyed by fire in 1975.
The day after the kids and I rode the Cumbres-Toltec Railroad with my dad and his wife (photos from that trip this week) we drove up back the Conejos River to take some photographs of this great old Catholic church.
In the 1850s, just after the United States invaded and took the entire southwest from Mexico, Hispanic settlers from the Abiquiu and Santa Cruz areas moved up into what is now the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado and settled the area known as Las Mesitas or small, flat hills.
This is just a few miles west of Antonito, the eastern terminus of the Cumbres-Toltec Railway in Conejos County, Colorado.
The Spanish had been in this area for a long time already. Don Diego de Vargas is the first known European in the area. Juan de Uribarri noted in his journals that he passed through in 1708. After the Crown delivered landgrants to farmers in the 1740s and 1750s settled slowly trickled into the area, battling the Navajo people for every inch of land. In the 1830s the Mexican governments offered further land grants and still more ranches and villages were established in the area.
In 1854 Mormon migrants moved into the area also, establishing the community of Sanford, named for Silas Sanford Smith. More Mormons came from my home town of Pueblo, Colorado in 1877 with John Morgan. They established the community of Manassa.
Members of Los Hermanos de la Fraternidad Piadosa de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, or the Penitente Brotherhood, settled the community of Lobatos and more Hispanics came from New Mexico’s Ojo Caliente area to establish Capulin under the leadership of Hipolito Romero.
The reservoirs never filled as expected however. The wind was relentess and the national economy was never reliable. The San Luis Valley is a great place for ghost towns and old Catholic Churches.