Colorado place names
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Today we are learning about Colorado place names in Spanish.
Tomorrow we’ll expand that to the entire U.S.
Learning place names is a great way to build your Spanish vocabulary.
It’s easy to overlook this as a way to build your vocabulary, however it’s a fun cultural and history lesson. It’s a good source of vocabulary that applies to everyday situations.
If you are in Colorado and you take a road trip, read the map and look up the Spanish place names. This actually applies to travel all over the southwest.
Spanish explorers first came into the area around 1590.
We’ll begin with the name of our state, Colorado.
They say the name was given because of our red rocks and soil. So Colorado means colored red.
In many Mexican restaurants “Chile Colorado” is one of the options on the menu. Many people think this is Colorado (grown) chile. It may or may not be, but it is red chile.
Hatch, New Mexico where we get most of our chiles and roasted chiles from has had drought conditions for years. The resulting salt in their soil has affected the chile growing industry there.
In Pueblo, Colorado, the soils are very good for growing chile and that industry is growing. The chile Colorado you order in your local Mexican restaurant may be Colorado grown chile, but chile colorado is “red chile“, not chile verde.
Colorado place names:
Pueblo – town or people
Trinidad – the trinity
Antonito – Little Tony/Anthony
Alamosa – covered with Cottonwood trees
San Luis – Saint Louis
Salida – Departure or exit
La Junta – the meeting/gathering
About 16 Colorado Counties have Spanish names:
Huérfano – Orphan
Río Grande – Big River
Conejos – rabbits
San Miguel – Saint Michael
San Juan – Saint John
El Paso – The Pass
Other places in Colorado:
Several of our 14ers
La Plata Peak – Silver Peak
Blanca Peak – White Peak
Culebra Peak – Snake Peak
El Diente Peak – tooth Peak
Y más – and more
Sangre de Cristo Mountains – Christ’s blood
Santa Fe Street – Saint Faith
Alameda – a tree lined boulevard
Tejón – Badger (racoon family)
Colorado has a very rich Hispanic history and it is reflected in it’s place names.
Action Step: Get out a map of Colorado and your notebook. Scan it for Spanish names and then translate and write them in your notebook.
Muchas Gracias y hasta mañana,