These articles, undated,  are  from a newspaper clipping and a tablet
sized poster found in a scrapbook of Mary Frances (Rogers) Dean.  

 

    Las Animas is a Spanish name, meaning "City of Lost Souls." The town takes its name from the Picketwire River which is located east of the city and flows into the Arkansas River. The Picketwire was originally called Rio de las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio (the river of lost souls in purgatory).
    There are conflicting accounts about the naming of the river. Both pertain to the first group of Spanish explorers in the area, but differ on how the explorers died. One tale says the explorers died in a winter storm, while another states they were burned out by savages.
    Around 1594 an expedition was sent out of Mexico to suppress Indians beyond the border. After accomplishing their mission against the savages, its leaders began to dream of the unknown and continued their expedition.
    News of their intentions leaded back to Mexico and the governor ordered the explorers to return. Only six men obeyed, the remainder continuing. Soon quarrels arose and one leader was slain. Convinced the trip as accursed, the expedition's priest forsook it while others pushed on.
    It is said the Spaniards grew careless and one morning savages set fire to tall grass around their camp. In a confusion of smoky flames, every person perished except a mulatto girl and a man named Alonza Sanchez. It is said that Sanchez later became a great chief among the killers of his companions.
    Years passed, the Santa Fe Trail was established, and a party of explorers discovered the rusted arms of what had once been a large force.
    In awe, they named the creek El Rio de las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio. French traders shortened the name of the river to Purgatoire, as it appears on maps today. Later Americans clipped the name to Las Animas and still later corrupted Purgatoire to Picketwire as the river is commonly known today.

Las Animas, Colorado
"The City of Lost Souls"
As Named by Early Spanish Settlers

     ; Las Animas (Spanish for The Spirits) took its name from the river which runs nearby and empties into the Arkansas.  The first group of settlers at the mouth of the river perished in the winter storms.
    The name of the river was changed from Las Animas to El Purgatorio, * the River of Lost Souls, in consequence of early Spanish explorers losing their lives on its banks.  Their souls were condemned to purgatory because they perished without the assistance of the sacrament of the church.
    * Later, the French changed the spelling to Purgatoire, as the name now appears on all  maps; however, the early American cowboy could not accomnplish the French pronunciation, and soon had Purgatoire corrupted to Picketwire, the name most commonly used today in the area.

Compliants of
C. W. HURD
CHAIRMAN, HISTORICAL COMMITTEE, LAS ANIMAS, COLORADO

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