Las Animas is the Statutory City that is the county seat and the only incorporated municipality in Bent County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 2,410 at the 2010 United States Census. Las Animas is located on the Arkansas River, just west of its confluence with the Purgatoire River (or “Purgatory River”), in southeast Colorado east of Pueblo, near the historic Bent’s Fort.
According to legend, the town and the Purgatoire River were named after a group of conquistadors, probably part of Coronado’s expedition, who died without the last rites sacrament of a priest. According to Catholic belief, their souls would go to Purgatory as a result. The original Spanish name for Las Animas (“The Souls,” in Spanish) was purported to be La Ciudad de Las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio, “The city of lost souls in Purgatory.”
Gantt’s Picket Post, also known as Fort Gantt, was built near the present-day Las Animas in 1832, operating as a trading post until 1834. The second Fort Lyon military post was built in Las Animas in 1867. It operated until 1897.