The Overland Trail

Strip Mining on the Overland Trail:

An Overview

February 1, 1998

Colorado Lien Company, a South Dakota mining company, is planning to expand their strip mining into the Robertís Ranch, north of Livermore Colorado. This is a pristine ranch of about 20,000 acres, and has been in the same family since 1874. The Robert's Family is totally dedicated to preserving it as open space, natural wildlife habitat, and historical sites. I have spent the better part of two years, full time, researching the Overland Trail and itís history through Northern Larimer County. I have toured the ranch on several occasions, walking the trail, measuring the teepee rings, reading the names on Signature Rock, and just generally basking in the knowledge that this area is an important cultural and historical site--one that is unmatched in the entire United States.

I have a copy of the entire Impact Report prepared by Colorado Lien and submitted to the Larimer County Planning and Zoning Department. I found it inaccurate in a number of areas, especially concerning the "Cultural Resources", and prepared a rebuttal submitted to the County Commissioners. The "Cultural Resources" section, written by an unknown (to me and other historians within the area,) and unpublished person, has stated that the Overland Trail, which he mistakenly calls the "Salt Lake and Denver Road" has been used as a "ranch road" and it therefore not of any cultural value. Hogwash!! The Overland Trail across the Robert's Ranch is barely passable by a 4 wheel drive vehicle, and in some instances major portions have been washed out for years, and totally impassable.

Never is mentioned in the Impact Report information regarding any of the Indian artifacts readily apparent in the mining site area. My issue and concern is that of the possible destruction of a unique historical resource, like none other in the entire United States, which, once destroyed, can never be replaced.

From the evidence of campsites of Folsom Man, dating back 10,000 years to the grave sites of pioneers who died in the 1860ís along the Overland Trail, this small slice of Larimer County is rich in the history of a variety of cultures. A Colorado State University archeological study reports that Native Americans camped within directly in the path of the proposed "haul road." Numerous teepee rings of over 20 feet in diameter line the ruts of the Overland Trail Stage Route, concrete evidence of the use of this site by various Plains Indians for many years prior to the establishment of the trail. At least two American Indian medicine wheels up to 200 feet in diameter are visible from US Highway 287 near County Road 80 which is the proposed "haul route" for an average of over 160 large truck trips per day. Large hunting parties of Folsom Man, and later the Cheyenne, Ute and Arapaho stampeded entire herds of buffalo off the cliffs which lie within the shadow of what will become sterile wasted plies of slag, euphemistically called "overburden" by the mining company. An identified Indian burial site lies just to the south.

All readers of these pages should be outraged that a South Dakota mining corporation continues to ravage pristine hay meadows, sparkling springs, and historical sites for just a few dollars. And as the "Impact Report" has stated, will continue for a minimum of at least 80 years is this area! This historical area be lost forever to our children and grandchildren. They will not be able to visualize the campfires, and listen for the beat of drums of the Native Americans, nor will they be able to reach down and touch the stones of the teepee rings left by the Plains Indiansí villages. They will never experience the thrill of tramping along the historic Trail immortalized by Mark Twain in his novel, "Roughing It", nor will they ever be able to trace with their own small hands the weathered names left 150 years ago by pioneers at Signature Rock.

I for one am not willing to allow the whims of a rich corporation to destroy evidence of an important period of the development of human civilization that occurred right here in our own back yard! The possession of mining rights is not a license to rape history!

Please e-mail me if you too are concerned, and I will personally hand deliver all responses to the proper County officials who are requesting information at this time, or write them directly (copy me too please) at:

February 10, 1998

The County Planning officials met on Feb. 5, 1998, and have requested that the Colorado Lien Company resubmit their plan. This is a temporary victory!! They are planning to do this by mid-March. Please continue to submit e-mails in opposition to this proposed strip mining. We cannot allow historical sites to be desecrated for the almighty dollar.

February 15, 1998

On February 12th, a public meeting was held near the Robert's Ranch organized by Ms. Sam Lien, president of the company. Nothing was resolved, but about 100 neighbors were present and vehemently voiced their opposition to the plans on a number of issues.

March 28, 1998

The Nature Conservancy and members of the Sierra Club met at the teepee rings with Derek Roberts and other ranchers in the area to discuss and view the proposed mining site. There were about 50 in attendance.

March 30, 1998

Read How Much Is Enough? a letter to the editor of the Fort Collins Daily Coloradoan

April 14, 1998

Read the "Rebuttal" to Colorado Lien's Technical Review, submitted to Larimer County.

January 1999

The Larimer County Historical Alliance is making the strip mine proposal across the Robert's Ranch their main cause at this time. They have had two meeting so far this year to organize and plan strategy for this cause. (Read A Mine Is A Terrible Waste!) They are a non-profit organization which has been in existance for about 10 years, are registered with both the State of Colorado and the IRS. Donations (which are fully tax-deductible) are being accepted at this time for mailings, and to help defray the cost of an attorney who has had success defeating this Mining Company all the way to the US Supreme Court in 1998 on another mining issue in Northern Larimer County.

June, 2000: It appears that the Lien Company has backed off from their plans of strip mining for limestone on the Roberts Ranch, and over the Overland Trail. It is rumoured that they will be concentrating only on silica sand mining, near by, but at least not destroying the Overland Trail, the teepee rings and other historical sites.

Donations may be sent to:

Larimer County Historical Alliance
PO Box 275
Livermore, Colorado 80536

Visit the OCTA (Oregon California Trails Association) pages for more information on other preservation projects!

For snail mail information:

Elizabeth Larson
POST OFFICE BOX 247
VIRGINIA DALE, COLORADO 80536

Send comments, suggestions or inquiries: Elizabeth Larson

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