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Colorado’s Mexican Land Grants

Sidebar by Martha Quillen

History – December 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

The first, the 1832 Tierra Amarilla grant, was mostly in what is now New Mexico, but a small portion protruded into what would later become Archuleta and Conejos counties in Colorado. It went to Manuel Martinez and his sons and associates.

The Conejos grant followed in 1833 and included much of the western half of the San Luis Valley, including Conejos and Rio Grande counties.

The Maxwell grant, also known as the Beaubian and Miranda grant, was awarded to Charles Beaubian and Guadalupe Miranda in 1841. (Lucien Maxwell, Charles Beaubian’s son-in-law, later acquired control of the grant). It included a lot of land in New Mexico and part of Las Animas County in Colorado.

Map of Mexican Land Grants in Colorado
Map of Mexican Land Grants in Colorado
The Vigil and Saint Vrain grant was awarded to Ceran St. Vrain and Cornelio Vigil in 1843; though born in the U.S., Saint Vrain was a naturalized Mexican citizen. This grant would become home to the settlement of Greenhorn.

The grant was huge, about four-million acres, stretching from the Purgatoire River on the east into the Wet Mountain Valley, and from the Arkansas River on the north to south of Trinidad.


The Nolan grant was awarded to Gervacio Nolan in 1843, just a few days after the Vigil and Saint Vrain grant was conferred. The Nolan grant was west of the Vigil/St. Vrain grant and southwest of Pueblo; and was considerably smaller than its neighboring grant. Nolan, an illiterate, French-Canadian trader living in Taos, may have been fronting for Cornelio Vigil, who could receive only one grant.

The Sangre de Cristo grant was awarded to Stephen Luis Lee and Narcisco Beaubian in 1843. It included all of what is now Costilla county — along with some land in New Mexico — and also Colorado’s oldest permanent town, San Luis.

The Baca Grant was not actually a Mexican Land Grant, but an American one. It was made in 1860 in exchange for land the Baca family held in New Mexico.