Accidents, Death + Flooding: The Sad Story of Sopris Colorado
Colorado has a rich history, but some of it is less well-known than other parts. For example, you've probably heard of Trinidad, Colorado, but have you heard of its former neighbor, the now-extinct town of Sopris?
Sopris was a small town just south of Trinidad and has a sad, tragic history that led it to be the extinct Colorado town that it is today.
History of Sopris Colorado
Sopris, Colorado was a product of the mining boom in the 1800s and was essentially created as a place for miners and their families to live near the mines.
Many of the town's residents were immigrants from either Southern Europe, Mexico, or other parts of the United States that were recruited to work in the mines. Demographics in Sopris were so diverse that it's been said that somewhere around 12 different languages were spoken in the mines.
However, the move to Sopris to work in the mines proved to be a detrimental idea for many, as the CF&I Sopris Mine, Rocky Mountain Fuels mine, and Victor American mine, were known as some of the most dangerous mines in the country.
Tragically, it has been said that over 1200 miners were killed in the Sopris mines. It was because of this that the town would meet its eventual demise.
Sopris Colorado Goes Extinct
The fatalities and overall danger that Sopris residents met in the mines, as well as the regular flooding of the area because of the Purgatoire River, resulted in the state of Colorado's decision to get rid of the town altogether.
In 1968, residents of Sopris were bought out by the Army Corps of Engineers and were given a date of December 31st, 1970 to evacuate the town.
After everyone had relocated, the town was purposefully flooded with what became Lake Trinidad and still sits at the bottom of the lake today.
Take a look at Trinidad Lake State Park, the area in which the town of Sopris once existed: