Colorado Governor Ralph Carr and the San Luis Valley

By Forrest Whitman There’s a movement afoot to rename the Russell Office Building in Washington D.C. “The Ralph Carr Senate Office Building.” That would please Colorado’s Japanese-American community and many folks from the San Luis Valley. That’s because Carr stood up for the Japanese folks during World War II. He had roots in the Valley, …

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Places: Antonito, CO

Photo by Ericka Kastner

By Ericka Kastner

If you know me, you know New Mexico is my happy place. I realize that’s an unlikely lead for a column in Colorado Central Magazine. But my love of New Mexico means that I’m passing through southern central Colorado on a fairly regular basis; it also means that every time I head towards Taos, Santa Fe or Madrid, I’m still discovering spots between Salida and the Colorado/New Mexico border that fascinate and surprise me. Six miles north of the state border, Antonito is one of those towns that tugs at my heart. It’s rich with authentic Mexican restaurants; is adorned with phenomenal murals displaying the town’s cultural heritage; and incredible mountains stretch far in the distance, allowing Antonito to offer up the vast, blue Colorado sky.

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Aaron Abeyta – Poet, Author, Teacher, Coach, Mayor and San Luis Valley Native

Where were you born?

I was born in La Jara, Colorado (at the hospital there). Put another way, I am a San Luis Valley native from the jump.

At what point in your life did you decide to pursue poetry and writing?

Consciously, I made the call during my junior year of college. I was at Colorado State University to become an English teacher, and for whatever reason I just decided one day that I was going to drop the Education degree and pursue creative writing. It tacked on another year to the whole college experience as I made up a few classes, but it all worked out in the end; I ended up teaching and writing, best of both worlds.

Did you come from a creative family?

Depends on what you call creative. I am the only one that pursued “artistic” things, but if you count the creativity of living on a ranch, making things work as if by magic (i.e. duct tape, baling wire and twine), finding ways to make money stretch beyond its supposed limits, and the day to day life of living in a vibrant oral tradition, then by those standards we were all pretty creative. I really credit my grandpa for being one of my early influences; he told wonderful stories, and I strive, to this day, to create some of his storytelling “form” in all my work, whether it be poetry, letters or fiction.

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The Lobato Bridge

The Lobato (Costilla Crossing) Bridge is the southernmost bridge over the Rio Grande River in Colorado. It sits on County Road G between Antonito and Jaroso, Colorado and was originally constructed in 1892 by Joseph F. Thomas. He was a civil engineer and the Conejos County Surveyor and lived in Manassa, Co.. The bridge was purchased from the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio for the sum of $8,400. The bridge parts were shipped to Colorado by train and assembled on location.

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