When I began the research for my new work in progress, I spent several hours with a map, trying to plan all the towns my characters would pass through on their journey. To start the story, I chose Julesburg, Co. and wrote the rough draft. However, when I dug deeper into my research I realized the town had actually moved four times and had been on both sides of the South Platte River. I needed to discover where the town was during the time that my characters were there.
Julesburg-1 Across the river from the present-day town of Ovid, Julesburg was originally settled in 1859 by the French trader, Jules Beni. His trading post was built on the south side of the South Platte River, at the junction of the Upper California Crossing. The trail forked at this point, one followed the North Platte Valley through South Pass to California and Oregon. The other trail followed the South Platte River to the settlement of Denver.
|Pony Express Monument|
For a short time Julesburg was a stage station for the Leavenworth and Pikes Peak Express Company and Pony Express mail service. In March of 1862 Ben Holladay bought the company and his Overland Express took over the mail route. The settlement grew into a blacksmith shop, store, telegraph office, warehouse, homesteaders’ cabins, billiard saloon, and the Overland Stage Station building.
Then between January and February of 1865, one thousand Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Sioux, attacked both Julesburg and stage stations along the Overland Trail. They killed both civilians and soldiers in retaliation for the Sand Creek Massacre in November of 1864. They burned twelve ranches, destroyed over seventy-five miles of telegraph wire in the Platte Valley, then returned to Julesburg and burned the buildings to the ground.
|Julesburg, CO Burning of 1865|
Julesburg-2 A year later, Julesburg was rebuilt farther east, about three miles downstream from the ruins of the previous town. Then in June of 1867 the Union Pacific Railroad came through on the north side of the river. The second Julesburg died when most of the town moved across the river to the north bank although the stage station may have remained for a short time.
Julesburg-3 For a short time Julesburg was an end-of-the-track town situated at the base of a ridge of sandy bluffs about two miles north of Fort Sedgwick. It quickly developed a reputation for a wicked and bawdy lifestyle. As the railroad continued moving west, the town quickly faded and eventually became known as Weir.
|Julesburg, CO UPRR Depot|
Julesburg-4 At the junction of the Transcontinental Railroad and Denver Branch of the Union Pacific was a town originally known as Denver Junction, but in the 1880’s it was renamed Julesburg, making it the fourth and last time the town was moved.
For my story, my characters will meet in Julesburg number three.