National Geographic : 1932 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by J. Frank McDaniel KEEPING MOUNTAIN ROADS OPEN THE YEAR ROUND Formerly winter closed in on the high Rockies in late autumn and held them in its grip until early summer; but, with the increase in highway traffic in recent years, it has been found necessary to keep the chief roads and passes open. Even the most severe blizzards now cause only temporary breaks in the passage of automobiles over the Divide. stream valley, winding and narrow. But the San Luis Valley is nothing of the sort. It is in effect a great prairie in the moun tains, more than 50 miles wide and 120 miles long, an area three times as extensive as the State of Delaware. AN AMERICAN VALE OF KASHMIR Like the celebrated Vale of Kashmir, the San Luis Valley was once the bed of a large lake, its waters dammed in by a mountain ridge. The Rio Grande cut through the barrier tens of thousands of years ago, drained away the lake, and left the floor almost as level as a table. Now the stream flows through the rich alluvial soil, furnish ing irrigation water for hundreds of farms. Bound eastward, you must climb the Sangre de Cristo. These are mountains (lear to the heart of a plainsman-story hook mountains, a spectacular thin range rising steeply from a plain, with peak after peak set like cones of sugar in a row. Topping the mountains at La Veta Pass, you look out again over Colorado's vast eastern plains and roll down into the strip of country nearest the Rockies, in which the State's leading cities and 8o per cent of its population are concentrated. Trinidad, southernmost of this north south string of cities, is near the New Mexico border and is the capital of south ern Colorado's coal-mining industry. It is the gateway city to Raton Pass, over which the main north-south road and the highway successor to the old Santa Fe Trail pass into New Mexico and on to the Pacific coast. PUEBLO DISCIPLINES A RIVER North a few hours, over a well-surfaced road, lies Pueblo, Colorado's second city, astride the Arkansas River. As you cross on railway or highway bridge you see a harmless-appearing, shallow stream wind ing its way among sand bars; but eleven years ago the Arkansas overflowed its banks, took a short cut through the city, and caused one of the greatest flood calam ities in the history of the United States.