11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Pinon Canyon

Year Listed: 2007
Location: Colorado
Threat: Public Policy, Development

Rancher Steve Wooten near Pinon Canyon, Colorado.

Credit: James Lindberg


In Southeastern Colorado, under uninterrupted blue skies, the Pinon Canyon area includes scenic buttes, river valleys, family ranches and historic and archeological sites that span 11,500 years. The area is threatened by the U.S. Army's plans to expand its Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site by as much as 408,000 acres, a move that could lead to forced condemnation of private lands and damage or destroy historic Santa Fe Trail monuments, ranches, and historic and prehistoric archeological sites. The Santa Fe Trail, in continual use for 60 years starting in 1821, was America's first great international commercial highway and a prominent route of exploration and western expansion. The Trail winds 1,200 miles across five states from Missouri to New Mexico. In western Kansas the Santa Fe Trail splits into two routes, with the northerly Mountain Route following the Arkansas River Valley into Colorado. In addition, this rugged and scenic area contains historic and prehistoric archeological sites, most of which have remained almost completely undisturbed. The excellent preservation and high density of sites-with features such as domestic architecture, rock art, discarded tools and food refuse items-make this an ideal area for future research.