Returning World War II veteran Sam Miller, with his wife, Rosemary Cheney Miller, built this “motor court” in Animas City in 1946. They entered the motel business to take advantage of the post-war American fervor for automobile travel and tourism. The name was eventually changed to the Spanish Trails Motel that still exists today, albeit with many remodels and additions over the years. Miller was instrumental in the annexation of Animas City into Durango in 1948 and served as Durango mayor in 1949-50. He was also a county commissioner from 1954 to 1960. The Spanish Trials was always considered one of Durango’s premiere motels. In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, it played host to many Hollywood stars during their time in Durango filming movies. These included WWII Congressional Medal of Honor winner turned actor Audie Murphy and acting superstar of the time Jimmy Stewart. Sam and Rosemary’s daughter, Colleen, became an attorney. Their son, Matt, was the first of only two native Durangoans to play in the National Football League. The University of Colorado All-American played four years for the Cleveland Browns from 1979 to 1983. After football he earned a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech and today is a professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Ivy League’s Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, firstname.lastname@example.org