Trujillo Homesteads

Teofilo Trujillo
Teofilo Trujillo

Courtesy Maria Causby

Trujillo Homesteads National Historic Landmark, along with the adjacent Medano Ranch and Zapata Ranch, (below on this page) are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. All three historic ranches are located west of Great Sand Dunes.

While the Trujillo Homesteads comprise a small area compared with the 103,000 acre Medano-Zapata Ranches, the Trujillo story plays an integral role in the volatile history of the region during westward expansion of the United States.

Hispanic and Anglo homesteaders began settling lands around the dunes in the 1860s. Teofilo and Sofia Trujillo acquired a parcel in the grasslands west of the huge Medano-Zapata Ranch (see below), and grazed sheep there. As was typical of the range wars in the western US in that era, conflict erupted. Cattle ranchers resented what they perceived to be significant range damage caused by sheep grazing. There may have been cultural components to the conflict as well, as Teofilo and Sofia built a traditional adobe-style home and maintained Hispanic customs.

Pedro Trujillo
Pedro Trujillo

Courtesy Maria Causby

In 1879, their grown son Pedro built a log home nearby that was quite different from his parents’ dwelling. In an interview later in life, Pedro recalled the cultural conflicts between Hispanic and Anglo settlers - and within his own family. The interviewer recorded that Pedro "refused to become a sheepherder, and argued with his father that the sheep would cause him trouble, as that had always been cattle country." Tragically, Pedro's warnings proved true. Teofilo's house was burned down in 1902 by a few area residents, and the Trujillo family relocated to a different part of the valley.

Linger Family
Second and third generation Linger family on the Medano Ranch

Courtesy Linger family

The Linger family purchased the Medano-Zapata Ranches and began a new era of reconciliation in 1911, thriving and raising two generations of children there. Former racial tensions dwindled as they befriended and employed descendants of the Trujillo family. The ranches transitioned into a century of stability and prosperity.

Linger Children with Benito Martinez
Pedro Trujillo’s grandson Benito with the Linger family, circa 1930s.

Courtesy Linger family

In the photo at left, the Linger children give a wagon ride to their friend Benito Martinez (center), Pedro Trujillo's grandson. Bob Linger recalls: "After the old conflicts between Hispanic sheepherders and Anglo cattlemen, this was a place of restored relationships." Benito and his family lived with the Linger family, who provided ranch positions and friendship to them in an era when it was not the norm.

Maria Causby and Grandson, Pedro Trujillo Homestead
Pedro Trujillo's granddaughter Maria Causby visits Pedro Trujillo homestead with other family members.

NPS/Patrick Myers

The restored Pedro Trujillo homestead (pictured), and scattered remains of the Teofilo Trujillo Homestead, are located on the boundary between Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. This remote site is currently not accessible to the public.

Learn more about the Trujillo Homesteads on

Trujillo Descendants In Their Own Words
Deborah Quintana shares stories about the Trujillo family in front of the Pedro Trujillo homestead.


Trujillo Descendants - In Their Own Words (National Park Service Video Interview on YouTube, 10 Minutes)

Descendants of Teofilo and Pedro Trujillo share stories and thoughts about their family's history, and the cultural conflicts that led to the burning down of Teofilo's house in 1902.

Trujillo Digital Flythrough Thumbnail
Pedro Trujillo Homestead as depicted in the digital animation flythrough

University of Colorado - Denver

Trujillo Homesteads - Digital Flythrough (National Park Service Video on YouTube, 4 minutes)

Take a digital visual tour of the Trujillo Homesteads National Historic Landmark.

Last updated: February 6, 2024

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