Although it’s far from being a ‘little-known site’, no trip through Antonito is complete without a stop at Cano’s Castle.
Born Dominic (Donald) Espinosa, the Castle’s architect & builder now goes by ‘Cano’ which is the Native American term for ‘reborn’. Just like his new name suggests, Cano – a Vietnam Vet – has a new mission in life.
Cano is looking for the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. for a meeting with the President. He wants to address the injustices done to his family. He claims that the U.S. should give him the chunk of southern Colorado/ northern New Mexico land that was stolen from his family in 1921. He believes it was a gift from God to Cano’s uncle (who was murdered), and Cano wants it back.
As a ‘Thanks’ to God for sparing his life in Vietnam, Cano has built this castle for Jesus (who, incidently, has been living there since 1987). Actually, Cano (pronounced CAH-no) will credit God for the building of his castle. Evidently God is a master re-cycler, as this castle is built with countless forms of aluminum scraps. It is, in fact, four structures in one: “The king”, “the queen”, “the palace” and “the rook”. The four story “king” house, covered in glistening beer cans and hubcaps, is his crowning architectural achievement.
Cano says his main sources of inspiration for the Castle are “Vitamin Mary Jane” and Jesus.
As you leave the castle and are heading south out of town, there is a small, but cute park at the corner of 3rd and Highway 285. The Water Spray park offers green grass, picnic tables and a port-a-potty. There is also the opportunity to cool yourself off in the water features.
After leaving the park, don’t forget to grab a look at the Cumbres & Toltec Train Depot. There you will find the Narrow Gauge steam train that travels between Antonito & Chama, NM. It crosses the border eight times during one of the most scenic train rides in the country! Maybe next time you pass through, you’ll take a day and ride the rails. If you do, start (and stay) in Chama – it’s much prettier there. For more info click HERE.