Think about Colorado lands 150 years ago. Imagine packing up your family into a horse-drawn Conestoga and heading out on the Santa Fe Trail, Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail, Gila Trail, or the Bozeman Trail. Our imagination comes to life during the annual El Paso County Wagon Train.
Outriders and wagons gather Saturday, July 19, 2014 at the El Paso County’s Fairgrounds in Calhan, or they camp out the night before. Although trail ride participants may already on their Colorado horse properties, they are an inspiration to those of us who yearn to get out under the big skies and open ranchland in Colorado. The Wagon Train is a two-day event and includes a leg from Ramah Dam back to Calhan. Calhan is located in a growing agricultural area east of Colorado Springs.
In the mid-1800s before the railroad reached the West, wagon trains carried pioneers through the Western United States. Hundreds of wagons at times set off on the dangerous trek that began in St. Louis or St. Joseph, Missouri during the spring. The exciting adventures were filled with anticipation of the unknown. Although writers romanticized the expeditions, there was no shortage of hardship, including disease, ambush, hunger and thirst and more.
Wagon trains had captains or wagon masters and staff. These experts were acquainted with the trails, climate, water sources, and dangers along the way. Settlers had to purchase their own wagons, animals, and supplies. Drawn by four or six horses, each wagon had to be signed up for the wagon train by specific prescheduled dates. Before each trip, the wagon train master and crew met with applicants to answer questions and be sure the pioneers were up for the grind ahead.
Most wagon trains covered about 10-15 miles a day. Scouts rode ahead during the night. Others would circle for protection and set up campsites before preparing meals of buffalo or beefsteak and fried cakes with occasional wild turkey, quail, or rabbit. After the initial excitement wore off, the weary travelers were tested to the hilt. Sometimes they got stuck in the mud, became extremely sunburnt, or were attacked by Indians or outlaws.
Colorado plains offer plenty of grass and water for farming and ranching. Ancestors of many present-day Coloradoans stopped along the Front Range and settled on their own Colorado farms and ranches.
Note modern usage of the term “wagon train.” Motorcyclists enjoy touring the forests, mountains, and ranchland in Colorado, too. From July 25-26 to August 3-4, 2014, the CADS Colorado Wagon Train will gather at least five wagons (groups of bikers) in Salida, Colorado, a ranching community located between Denver and El Paso County/Colorado Springs.
Buying Colorado Land
For more information about possibilities for horse properties and ranches along the Front Range from Denver to Colorado Springs, call Michael Paul at 303-814-9546.
Click here for information about our Featured Listing, a home and large acreage in Calhan with development possibilities.