The town site was laid out relative to the direction of the railroad which was common practice in many areas of the territory in many areas of the territory.
There was only a slight difference between the alignment of the east-west section lines and that of the railroad tracks.
The new town site plat was filed at the County Set on Oct. 23, 1873. No record of this plat is found today, but the Las Animas Leader of Nov. 1, 1873 describes the layout as follows.
It is located in Sections 10 and 3 in Township 23, south of range 52, west of sixth principal meridian. The streets as platted, running east and west, are numbered Eighth to Seventeenth consecutively; north and south they are called Avenues, and commencing on the west side are named Grand, Armijo, St. Ange, Carson, Bent, Vigil, St. Vrain, and Railroad.
Between Grand and St. Vrain Avenues and 15th and 16th Streets, three blocks are reserved for parks. Tenth Street is next to and parallel with the railroad on the north side. Railroad Avenue on the extreme east side of town, is dedicated to the Arkansas Valley Railway Company for cattle and other uses. The runs due west through the middle of the present town.
It was reported that William Connor who owned the American House in Kit Carson was preparing to move this hotel by rail to the new town. This nomadic trend from older towns to new "boomtowns" was a common practice during a period when businesses succeeded or failed with the sudden movement further west of a railroad.
The new town of Las Animas was in a frenzy of building. A water well had been dug to a depth of 12 feet and a driving pump installed. The water was pronounced good. In a two-week period in early October, the town had grown to a population of over 100.
People were buying lots and receiving deeds to the land, but it was still anyone's guess if these deeds were worth the paper they were written on. Nevertheless, the building boom continued prior to the arrival of the first train to West Las Animas.
J. B. Hunt put up the first building, a dance hall, in the new town. George A. Brown had occupied land in the vicinity of 12th Street as a "squatter" prior to the layout of the town. In fact, the layout of the town set Brown's residence within the right-of-way of 12th Street. Brown continuously ran ads in the Las Animas Leader notifying the public that he had prior rights to this area and intended to pre-empt. He considered the new residents of the town as "squatters.
Prowers and Hough were in the process of building a large two-story adobe commission warehouse on the south side of the tracks west of Bent Avenue. For some time to come, this firm would handle a large volume of freight coming out of Colorado, New Mexico, and the Southwest. Most of the buildings in the new town were built of either wood frame or adobe; adobe being predominant as its cost was only $6 to $10 per thousand and made locally.
The first train reached West Las Animas on Oct. 17, 1873 loaded with goods and lumber for the new coal mission houses. At the same time, Bowman of the Las Animas Leader spoke out against the naming of this new town: "it seems a pity that a shorter and more euphonious name could not have been selected for the town. Other names suggested were Hidalgo and Lyon, either of which we consider preferable to West Las Animas."
As the land controversy continued and clear title remained in question, West Las Animas continued to boom. By early November, 50 or more permanent structures were complete or nearly so and many residents were living in tents, or shanties until permanent structures were finished.
The water tank, turntable and engine house were nearly complete on land between Vigil and Railroad Avenue, south of 10th Street. The depot, facing Vigil was under construction and the stockyards were being completed near the end of the tracks west.
On Nov. 17, 1873, the first school in West Las Animas was begun. On Dec. 19, the first wedding held in the new town became one of the social events of the year. This was the marriage of Charles A. Boggs, son of Thomas O. Boggs, and Miss Eva Nathena.
The Methodist Episcopal Sunday School began on Jan. 4, 1874, and the West Las Animas Literary and Debating Society formed in late February 1874. The building of the Baptist Church would soon follow.
The depot opened for business on Dec. 19, 1873. Many newcomers were arriving to cast their lot with others in West Las Animas. Many businesses and residents from "Old Town" were also moving to West Las Animas.
On or near Feb. 2, 1874, C. W. Bowman moved the Las Animas Leader from "Old Town" to West Las Animas. He, like all others, was willing to take his chances in securing title to lots in this new town. The Leader could not keep abreast of this boom town from another town east of the Purgatory that was dying. Even though the Leader was moved, a time came when Bowman did not report much on the happenings of the railroad or the detailed progress of the new town. This was most likely due to the continuing battle between Bowman, Moffat, Carr, and the Kansas Pacific Railway over title to the town.
By mid-March, 1874, the town boasted 300 residents. The county population was estimated at 4,000. There was a report of three hotels in West Las Animas with rates of rooms or room and board from $1 to $4. Coal could be delivered from the mines near Trinidad at $13.50 per ton or wood from 15 to 20 miles south at $4 to $5 per cord. Dry goods were easily obtainable at one of the many outlets in town, as supplies for them were plentiful via shipments on the railroad from the state. By July, local merchants were collectively doing business in excess of $50,000 per month.
During 1874, 60 buildings for business or residences were completed.
The year 1875 brought to West Las Animas another railroad, built under the names of Colorado and New Mexico Railroad (from Granada) and the Pueblo and Salt Lake Railroads were joined and came under the control of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad.
In 1875, West Las Animas became the county seat, an irrigation ditch was constructed into town, a new school was built at 13th and St. Vrain, a Library Association formed in early January, the first soda fountain opened in April, Bowman of the Leader advocated incorporation, there was the addition of two slaughter houses, and it was noted that patrons drank as much as 20 kegs of beer per day in West Las Animas during the heat of summer.
Title to land in West Las Animas was not settled until the Oct. 1884 term of the U. S. Supreme Court. Later, West Las Animas officially changed its name to Las Animas. It became incorporated as a municipal governing body by election held on Sept. 23, 1882.
Some avenue names all street names were changed and read as follows: 8th to 3rd, 9th to 4th, 10th to 5th, 12th to 6th, 13th to 7th, 14th to 8th, 15th to 9th, 16th to 10th, 17th to 11th, Armijo to Locust, St. Ange to Elm, and Railroad to Moore.
When the new plat of Las Animas was drawn in 1885, the location of 11th Street was not indicated. Some say that the present Prowers Court was formerly 11th St. However, the wide alley that became Prowers Court was not created until Town Block No. 91 was divided into lots in May, 1887.
Apparently another election was held Nov. 4 for position of mayor and board of trustees.
The first city minutes, Nov. 13, 1882, read as follows: "The Board of Trustees of the Incorporated Town of West Las Animas, who by the certificate of the Judge of an election held the 4th day of November A. D. 1882, was declared elected, met at &:30 p.m. From the credentials so presented it appeared Wm. E. Culver had been elected Mayor, Jno, W. Jay, recorder and A. D. Hudnall, J. C. Jones, Thomas W. Russel and Eli Shoemaker as trustee.
The credentials and oaths of office of the members present were ordered filed.
1st order of Business -- that mayor procure the books and stationery necessary for the use of the board and to order a seal with a design in the center of a "horse" and the word seal.
2nd order of business -- Thomas W. Russel vacancy replaced by Jas. Reid.