Baca County History

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Baca County was formed in 1887 when the Colorado Legislature split off the eastern portion of Las Animas County to create the new County. The 1880’s saw rapid population growth in the area that became Baca County and the creation of thirteen towns. Prior to the 1880’s there was little activity in the County other than along the Cutoff Branch of the Santa Fe Trail that crosses the extreme southeastern corner of the County. Baca County is and always has been highly dependent on agriculture. The County has experienced many booms and busts coinciding with the booms and busts in the agricultural economy.

The 1880’s saw rapid growth along with wet years. The 1890’s saw a large decline in agriculture and in population. Many of the original towns became ghost towns. The 1910’s saw wet years and expansion due to the increase in the acreage that could be homesteaded from 160 to 320. World War I also brought increased demand for agricultural products and increased prices for those products. The arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1926 created new towns (Walsh, Pritchett, Bartlett) and a population increase.

The Dust Bowl arrived in the 1930’s and Baca County was one of the hardest hit counties in the country. Baca County’s population declined from 10,570 in 1930 to 6,207 in 1940. The “Dirty Thirties” prompted soil conservation efforts by the Federal Government centered in Baca County. A part of these efforts included the purchase by the government of cultivated land which was returned to grassland.

Today, the U.S. Forest Service supervises 220,000 acres of Comanche National Grasslands, the land purchased in the 1930’s. A U.S.F.S. office is located in Springfield and information may be obtained there about recreational opportunities at Carrizo Creek and Picture Canyon. The Colorado Division of Wildlife also maintains recreational areas at Two Buttes Lake and Turk’s Pond. Information and links to additional information can be found on the Tourism tab of Baca County’s website. Today Baca County is an agricultural community with many entrepreneurial businesses and opportunities.

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