Following the South Platte:

Julesburg to Latham

JULESBURG: established in 1859 as a trading post by Jules Beni, was the beginning of the "Wild West."

The stages traveled along the south banks of the South Platte from Julesburg to LATHAM, pretty much following the old Pike's Peak route for most of the way. The trail west from Julesburg was incredibly sandy, and Holladay was forced to use the slower, but stronger mules to pull the coaches through the deep sand. Alkali dust was also a problem--often over a foot thick--until one reached the Bijou Creek. This section of the trail was the most heavily populated, with a number of ranches situated between the stage stations that were established by Ben Holladay. It was also the most vulnerable to Indian attack.

FORT SEDGWICK Fort Sedgwick was located opposite the mouth of Lodgepole Creek about a mile upriver from Julesburg.

ANTELOPE STATION The Antelope Station, about 12 miles beyond Julesburg, consisted of a two-room station, a barn, and corrals. On the 28th of January in 1865, all the buildings, valued at three thousand dollars, along with 25 tons of hay and 125 sacks of corn were burned during the Indian raids. After the buildings were destroyed, the Indians spent the rest of the day hauling provisions from the storeroom back to their camp. They loaded up their poledrags with bacon, ham, flour, sugar, molasses, and even oysters.

SPRING HILL The Spring Hill Station, a "home station," was actually built in 1859 by the COC&PP Express. It was reported to have been one of the best along this section of trail, valued at over six thousand dollars. It too was destroyed on January 28, 1865

DENNISON'S RANCHE The Dennison's Ranche was located at the mouth of the Cedar Creek, near the present day town of Iliff. Dennison's was attacked the next day, on the 29th of January.

VALLEY The Valley Station, also built in 1859 by the COC&PP Express, served as the headquarters for the 3rd Colorado Company Voluteer Cavalry in 1864. The telegraph office and about two thousand dollars in damage was done during the Indian raids of early 1865. The station was spared as the lieutenant in charge ordered his men to erect thick walls using sacks of corn. The men carried the sacks out onto the prairie and built a "large shelled-corn bastion" that supposedly would be bullet proof. They positioned themselves behind the wall with rifles ready. The Indians never attacked, and retreated just at sundown.

KELLY'S Kelly's Station or American Ranche was located 15 miles from the Valley Station. It was burned on January 14, 1865 and also suffered the loss 250 head of livestock.

FT. WICKED "Fort Wicked," also known as Godfrey's Station

BEAVER CREEK Beaver Creek, about 12 miles southwest of Kelly's, is usually noted as the point where the western bound travelers would get their first glimpse of the Rockies, including the spectacular Long's Peak. The station itself consisted of two log homes, each with just two rooms, which was built in 1861. For a short while this was considered a "home station" with meals available. Beaver Creek was burned by the Indians in January of 1865.

Several of the early guide books seem to disagree about the landscape and terrain around Beaver Creek, and one wonders if the authors ever even saw the creek! One exclaims that the banks along the Beaver were almost one hundred feet high, while another describes the creek as 20 feet wide, about 3 feet deep, and low banks. Yet another describes it as six inches wide and one inch deep!

JUNCTION About 18 miles from Beaver Creek the Fort Morgan Cutoff was established in 1864. There was a swing station at this point named Junction. A company of the 3rd Colorado Cavalry was stationed at Junction during the Indian problems.

BIJOU CREEK Three miles beyond Fort Morgan, is the site of the Bijou Creek Station. At Bijou there were two routes heading west, although both seemed to be less than adequate. One went over a steep bluff, and the other went through sand so deep that double teams had to be used to pull the wagons and stages.

FREMONT'S ORCHARD Fremont's Orchard was most likely a misnomer. Some emigrants noted that the large cottonwoods looked like apple trees, but another questioned the name, and wrote "...why it is called an orchard I cannot understand..." The quicksand in the South Platte was particularily bad here. In 1862, the Weld County Colorado Commissioners granted permission for a group to construct a toll road from Bijou Creek to Fremont's Orchard, hoping to relieve the problems of deep sand. The road never materialized as the project proved to be just too expensive.

EAGLE'S NEST Eagle's Nest Station was very small, consisting of just a barn, corral and house.

Latham, an important "home station" was situated very near where the South Platte and the Cache la Poudre come togethere. Latham was never attacked during the Plains wars.

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