An Important Junction on the Overland Trail

Latham, the last station on the South Platte, named in honor of Milton S. Latham, one of California's early senators, was built in 1862 at the mouth of the Cache la Poudre River. Originally called the Cherokee City Station, it was probably the most important and busiest facility on the Overland Trail. Diaries have noted that the home station, the only building there, was a long, low, one and one-half story log structure facing south. On the north side, a one story room addition included a large dining room, kitchen, bedroom, storehouse and telegraph. It was located about 1 1/2 miles to the east of the city limits of present day Greeley.

Since this was a junction point, there were often stages coming and going from three directions, in addition to the numerous wagon trains going West. It was also the storehouse for grain, soap, candles and other supplies for the three divisions. At times there were as many as 40 stage passengers at the station at once. The mail pouches had to be taken in and resorted and then reloaded according to their destination.

Most of the day, after the stages had arrived and departed, the station at Latham was a desolate and lonesome place. The nearest neighbor was a rancher nearly three-quarters of a mile away on the road towards Denver.

Emigrants going south to Denver, would follow the trail on the east side of the South Platte. Those going on to LaPorte would have to cross the river here, reported to have been over one mile wide. Many diaries noted the presence of quick sand, and the difficulty of crossing the river in the late spring when the water level was high. A ferry was available for $1.00 per wagon, but most of the wagons would need to be completely dismantled in order to use the ferry.

Unlike many of the other stations along the Overland Trail, Latham was never attacked by Indians, although the staff members were often frightened by reports of attacks near-by and by rumors of impending attacks.

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