Crazy French Ranch is recognized as a jewel of southern Colorado, boasting approximately 40,000 acres of breathtaking landscape that includes grassy meadows, mountainsides of Ponderosa pine, fir and Aspen, rugged rock escarpments, steep ravines, and much of the top Fishers Peak, which at over 9,600 feet is the highest point in the U.S. from Trinidad east to the Atlantic Ocean.
With 4,000 feet of elevation change, Crazy French Ranch is one of the few ranches in the western United States with prime habitat that supports seven big game trophy animals on the same property—elk, mule deer, bison, black bear, pronghorn, cougar, and turkey. The original Santa Fe Trail wound through the property, which is also rich with Indian artifacts. According to local lore, Billy the Kid considered the ranch’s wild terrain a perfect hideout.
A large grove of cottonwood trees along the Purgatoire River was a favorite resting place for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Here they recovered from the difficult journey from Bent’s Fort and rested for the even more difficult trek over Raton Pass and into the New Mexico Territory. This spot is now near downtown Trinidad.
In 1841, Kit Carson worked as a hunter for Bent's Fort, which was a privately owned trading post about 90 miles east of Trinidad. From 1846 to 1865, he scouted for the army and fought against Apaches, Navajo, Kiowas and Comanches during the Indian uprisings along the Santa Fe Trail. There is now a park in downtown Trinidad with a statue dedicated to Carson.
In March of 1882, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday rode out of Tombstone, Arizona for the last time after killing the four men responsible for shooting Morgan Earp. In Silver City, New Mexico, they boarded a train to Albuquerque, where they were met by their good friend Bat Masterson, who was the sheriff of Trinidad. They stayed in Trinidad for several weeks and Earp dealt faro at Masterson’s saloon.
Outlaws found the rugged terrain outside of Trinidad to be the perfect place to hide out. One such outlaw was Billy the Kid. Local lore says that he lived in a cabin on what is now Crazy French Ranch and grew potatoes.
Billy the Kid’s brother, Joseph Antrim, lived in Trinidad. In August of 1882, a year after Pat Garrett killed Billy the Kid in Fort Sumner, N.M., Garrett met with Antrim in the lobby of Trinidad’s Armijo Hotel. After several hours of conversation, the two rose and shook hands. Both made short statements to the press that they had discussed the killing of Billy the Kid. Garrett and Antrim parted never to meet again.
In January of 1915, Mother Jones, the feisty and fearless defender of mine workers, was seized by militia upon her arrival in Trinidad from El Paso, Texas. She was taken from the train and held for two hours until a train arrived from Denver. She was deported and told never to return. Jones had come to support striking coal miners.
In 1935, while visiting Trinidad, Will Rogers said, “Trinidad, Colorado, has enough coal to melt the North Pole until it runs.”