Sunday, May 6, 2012

Julesburg-The Town That Moved Four Times

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.


  1. Hi All,
    Unfortunately, today is one of those days where I work a fourteen hour shift. I wish I could be available to stop back and reply to comments, but I won't have a computer until midnight. So thanks everyone for stopping by. I appreciate your taking the time to read the post and leave a comment. Have a great day! :)

  2. What an interesting town and how fun that in your research for your story you uncovered the mystery of the movable town. It is amazing how strong people had to be in those days just to survive.

  3. Kathy--Fascinating bit about moving a town so many times. I guess it happens, but I don't think I've ever heard of it.
    It's good that you decided to research it, and look what you found--probably far more than you needed, but that's the way research goes. I get carried away with it, finding one thing, then moving on to something related.
    I do like the way you did your post, too. It's just the right mix of getting your book in there with your post. Good for you on promoting your book.
    Remember, you can add something else at the bottom, even a cover and buy link and blurb. I think once someone reads this post, she might wonder--what does the cover look like? Where's a blurb? That's what you want to do with your posts.

  4. Hi Paisley,
    Thanks so much for stopping by. I don't know how many people survived the Indian attack, but it was too bad they had to pay for the sins of the army.

  5. Hi Paisley,
    Thanks so much for stopping by. I don't know how many people survived the Indian attack, but it was too bad they had to pay for the sins of the army.

  6. Hi Celia,
    I'm like you, I get so caught up in research I find more than I need. In this case it was a lucky thing as my characters needed to be on the correct side of the river. Thanks for the reminder about the blurb. Unfortunately I don't currently have anything new, so I would be hitting people over the head with old releases, which is why I've chosen not to post it.

  7. My ancestors lived in towns that moved due to the railroad. I guess it wasn't uncommon as the West was settled, but it must have been extremely annoying to the residents.

  8. Hi Caroline,
    I suppose it wasn't much different from people nowadays who change apartments or move across town. They had a lot less stuff and probably threw all there furniture, clothes, and tools into the back of a wagon, drove three or four miles and unloaded.

  9. Kathy, in one instance in Altus OK apparently they moved some of the buildings and relocated main street in the early 1900s. At least that is the story I've come across in relative's descriptions I've collected for a family history book I'm compiling for my father's family.

  10. Hi Caroline,
    That's rather different, to move the buildings and everything. Who knows what motivates people? The owner of a large dairy farm my husband once worked for took down a silo and had it moved six feet, because it was blocking his view of the mountains.


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