The Wild West

Julesburg, established in 1859 as a trading post by Jules Beni, a French trader, was an important stop even before Ben Holladay created the Overland Trail. Since it was strategically located at a junction point of the Upper California Crossing and on the south banks of the South Platte River, it saw a tremendous amount of activity. The trail forked at this point: one went north and followed the North Platte Valley on through South Pass, and on to California and Oregon. The southern trail followed the South Platte River to the burgeoning settlement of Denver. For a short period to time, Julesburg served as a stage station for the Leavenworth and Pikes Peak Express as well as the eastern terminus of the Pony Express division that extended westward to the Sweetwater River in Wyoming. Julesburg was quite a settlement consisting of a number of buildings all constructed of hewn logs. It is reported to have had a telegraph office, a store, blacksmith shop, warehouse, stables, and homesteader's cabins, in addition to the Overland Stage Station building.

There was also a billiard saloon, said to have sold the "Vilest of liquor at two bits a glass." Julesburg had become a rendezvous for gamblers, horse thieves and desperados--with Jules Beni leading the pack. Jules had turned his trading post into a hotbed of wild times, loose women and the unfair treatment of travelers.

When Ben Holladay took over the mail route, Jules Beni was fired by Jack Slade, who was the Division Agent for this portion of the route. The name of Julesburg was also changed by Holladay to "Overland City" in hopes to change the town's image, that of being the toughest town west of the Missouri River, but the name just didn't stick. Even though the town itself was moved several times over the years, the name remains Julesburg.

Between January and February of 1865, Julesburg and the Overland Trail was repeatedly attacked by Indians. They not only burned twelve ranches, destroyed 100 tons of hay and attacked a wagon train consisting of over 20 wagons, they totally destroyed all the buildings at Julesburg, and destroyed about 75 miles of telegraph line to the west. The burning of this station was the greatest financial loss of any station on the stage line. Nothing was spared. Holladay reported to Congress losses of $35,000 for buildings, $1500 for hay, $78,000 for 3500 sacks of corn, provisions for $2000, for a total of about $115,000.

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