Antonito was a true "company town" founded by the Denver and Rio
Grande Railroad. It was formed in 1880 just 2 miles from Conejos, the
site of the oldest church in Colorado. At the time, it was common for
the expanding railroad to create railroad towns near towns like
Conejos. If the local residents did not meet the railroad's demands,
it would simply start a new town a few miles away.
During these railroad days, Antonito was the connection between the
narrow gauge tracks west to Chama, NM, and the standard gauge tracks
east to Alamosa.
What is now Conejos County first became the home of Spanish settlers
from the Abiquiu, NM, area who were looking for rich farm and grazing
land. Many people settled in Ortiz and San Miguel, which is across the
river in New Mexico. Others built their homes in Conejos, San Rafael,
San Antonio and Lobatos. Conejos County is one of the original
counties formed when Colorado became a state. It was originally called