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La Junta is located in southeastern Colorado, about 60 miles east of Pueblo. The county seat of Otero County, La Junta has for more than a hundred years formed a junction for commercial, agricultural, and ranching ventures. Before that La Junta was the junction where the Santa Fe Trail branched south to New Mexico, while a lesser route continued west to Pueblo and beyond. The Santa Fe Trail was one of the nation's first great trade routes.
La Junta sits on the south bank of the Arkansas River in what is primarily short grass prairie country. The mountains for which Colorado is so famous can be seen to the west, but this is rolling prairie land. Farming dominates the landscape in a narrow corridor along the river, while a short excursion north or south of US Highway 50 brings travelers to miles upon miles of grasslands.
We are home to a regional medical center and specialty clinics, as well as a number of retirement communities. We have an excellent K-12 school system, and Otero Junior College. The college hosts a number of technical certificate programs, a well-regarded nursing program, and a law enforcement academy. The City hosts a number of light industries and an airport in an industrial park north of town, a rail yard, and a downtown business district typical of small western towns.
81 miles NE of Trinidad, 64 miles E. of Pueblo, 274 miles NW of Amarillo, Texas
Situated in one of Colorado's fruit-growing pockets, this busy little town has several surprises for visitors, including some of the best American Indian art in the country and a nearby handsome reconstruction of a historic fort. Once the hunting and fishing grounds of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute tribes, and visited briefly by Spanish soldiers in the 17th and 18th centuries, this area did not become known to white Americans until Zebulon Pike led his exploratory expedition into the Arkansas River valley in 1806. Trappers and traders followed, creating the Santa Fe Trail, and brothers William and Charles Bent built Bent's Fort in 1833 as a trading post and the first American settlement in the region.
La Junta was founded in 1875 as a railroad camp, and named La Junta -- Spanish for "the junction" -- on completion of rail links to Pueblo and Trinidad in 1877. The town flourished as a farming and ranching center. Today it produces a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and wheat. The population is a bit over 7,500, and the town sits at an elevation of 4,052 feet.