Culebra River Villages of Costilla County: Village Architecture and Its Historic Context
Since their establishment in 1851, the villages of the Rio Culebra of Costilla County and their associated cultural landscapes have been representative of early Hispano settlement in Colorado. The vernacular architecture of the villages incorporated and retained hybridized styles characteristic of the outside influences introduced into the Rio Culebra between 1851 and 1964.
The formative settlement period from 1851 to 1878 marked the early migration of Hispanos from Taos Valley, the establishment of fortified plazas, and the shaping of the agricultural/pastoral landscape. The second epoch, from 1879 to 1918, heralded the arrival of the railroad into the San Luis Valley. Laden with commercially manufactured materials and eastern emigrants with differing perspectives on land ownership and land use, the railroad stimulated the introduction of new building materials and construction styles. The years between 1919 and 1945 mark a period of economic decline and then New Deal efforts to overcome the Great Depression by undertaking road, bridge, and other public works projects. The years between 1946 and 1964 reflect post-war efforts to combat persistent poverty by promoting standardized housing. These four periods and their accompanying changes in the landscape and built environment reflect the evolution of Hispano vernacular architecture and cultural landscape in southern Colorado. (Cover documentation accepted by National Register in 2002.)