Trujillo Homesteads

Date: 12/12/18
Principal Researchers:

Kat Vlahos Mike Nulty Julia Ausloos

Location: Alamosa, CO

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a treasure of visual, geological and biological surprises – a high mountain valley holding the highest dunes in North America and flanked by some of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains; unique wind-powered geologic systems; insects physically adapted to life in the sand and found nowhere else; alpine lakes and tundra; disappearing creeks; and inter-dunal wetlands. Great Sand Dunes park boundaries also include significant historical and cultural resources that contribute to the San Luis Valley settlement story. Over the years, the park has developed interpretive signage for a few accessible structures and invested in landscape inventory studies or restoration projects to enhance the settlers’ stories and ensure proper management of these structures.

One site of significance, the Trujillo Homesteads, located on land owned by The Nature Conservancy and within the authorized boundary of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, recently received National Historic Landmark designation on January 3, 2012. The Trujillo Homesteads exceptionally represent the expansion of Hispano-American settlement in the part of the American Southwest newly-acquired by the United States in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. Teofilo and Andrelitta Trujillo built one of the largest and wealthiest Hispano ranch operations in the San Luis Valley. Their son, Pedro Trujillo, adapted to the increasing dominance of Anglos in the area by raising only cattle, building a two-story log house on his own homestead, and speaking English. The homesteads represent Hispano settlement and the preservation of traditional Hispano culture on the frontier, as well as the impact of cultural exchange with Native Americans. In December 2011, the Advisory Board of the National Park System voted to recommend National Historic Landmark designation for the Trujillo Homesteads. On January 3, 2012, the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar officially designated the Homestead a National Historic Landmark.

Archeological evidence at Teofilo’s homestead is all that remains but the site has been intensely studied and documented to complete the National Historic Landmark nomination. Pedro’s homestead including his 2-story log house and contributing structures were also documented and researched to complete the nomination. The 2-story log house at Pedro’s site has been restored but many of the contributing structures remain in situ and have not been restored to original conditions. The park has received RM-CESU funds to collect data at the Trujillo homestead site with the use of Terrestrial LiDAR scanning equipment and the creation of a virtual imagery tool of the site to be housed on the park’s website. This information is crucial to interpret a publicly inaccessible site of significant value to the collective history of Latinos in the San Luis Valley. These data will help protect and preserve these resources for future generations, and will assist students in historic preservation by making these materials available on a public web site.

In 2012 the Center of Preservation Research team of Mike Nulty and Julia Ausloos collected data at the Teofilo and Pedro Trujillo homestead sites with the use of Terrestrial LiDAR scanning equipment. Specifically, the team collected data from 14 scan locations on the Trujillo Homestead site, located within the authorized boundary of Great Sand Dunes NP and Preserve, using LiDAR scanning, HDR photography, and required software for the development of virtual tours and scan shots.