Francisco Vasquez de Coronado first arrived in Southeast Colorado in 1540 seeking gold. It was also in this region in 1806 that Colorado received its first U.S. emissaries led by Zebulon Pike, and where the first American settlement was raised in 1833.
Here, the Santa Fe Trail ran alongside the Arkansas River bringing traders and, later, armies into one of the country's last Native American strongholds. Homesteaders also traveled upstream, along with the railroad crews, establishing towns that remain along the river today...Lamar, La Junta, and Rocky Ford. The two largest cities in Southeast Colorado, Trinidad and Pueblo, made their wealth on ranching, coal mining and commerce.