“To live in Trinidad is to fall under the spell of ‘the peak."
Background of Trinidad’s Iconic Landmark
Standing taller than anything east of it in North America, Fishers Peak for centuries has been a never-failing compass, for our forefathers, having served as a landmark for Native Americans and a beacon for pioneers moving west from the trade centers on the Missouri River, to present day travelers.
According to some, the peak was named after U.S. Army Major Waldemar Fischer, who was leading his troops through the Raton Pass on their way to Santa Fe in either the Mexican-American War or U.S. Civil War. Unsure of his route, he led a small group up the mesa to scout the land from the highest vantage point. The mesa at that time was known as Raton Peak. Well into the late 1870s, the two names seem to have been used interchangeably.
Soon after coal was discovered in the region, Trinidad was founded in 1862 and had an approximate population of 1,000 residents. Mining camps sprouted around the base of Fishers Peak. The nearby forests provided needed wood for ranchers and miners until the early 1900s, when the nourishing landmark became depleted of its natural resources. Albeit barren, the dramatic plateauing cliffs surrounded by hills of rugged terrain provided a mystical playground and a sense of freedom and adventure for generations of Trinidadians.
Like many boom-or-bust stories, around 1910, the coal mining industry eventually declined and mines were closed. According to an article published by History Colorado, Fishers Peak: A Brief History of Colorado’s Newest State Park, “the land around Fishers Peak was sold off in parcels, piece by piece, to ranchers and real estate moguls. What was once miles and miles of open land became privately owned and closed to the public.”
Although the Fishers Peak property had been privately owned for over 100 years, Trinidad-area residents had a mental ownership of the towering sight they saw every day upon waking and going to bed.
“I remember climbing Fishers Peak as a youth and feeling like I was on top of the world,” said Lou Simpleman.
“To live in Trinidad is to fall under the spell of ‘the peak.’ Its unique skyline image is the identifying face of Trinidad. The peak…it is special. It always was and always will be. The people of Trinidad have long gazed wistfully toward their city’s identifying landmark while not being allowed access. They have felt it was ‘theirs’; in their hearts, in their blood, in their DNA,” said Tom Perry.
In the Fall of 2017, Jay Cimino, Cy Michaels, and Karl Gabrielson formed the Gang of Fourteen, a group impassioned by their love for Trinidad and bonded together by a shared vision of returning Fishers Peak back to the people.