Letter from Virgina Simmons
Nomenclature – September 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine
I enjoyed your article about the word poncha. Here are a couple of additional bits of information. Poncha Pass was called Punche Pass sometimes in early days. There also is a Punche Valley several miles east of Antonito. It bears no resemblance to the pass, so I have always accepted the notion that a plant used as tobacco grew or grows in both places.
Also, Lt. J.W. Abert of the U.S. Topographical Engineers described in 1846 Sante Fé, including goods he observed in the market. Among these was “punche or tobacco,” as he wrote.
Did you know that listings in the white pages of our U.S. West Directory, which covers the entire San Luis Valley, fill only 76 and a fraction pages and that 14 of those pages are occupied by Salida listings (between Saguache and San Luis), thereby permitting me to find your address and disturb your tidy disposal of the word poncha? Rural Colorado still lives.