Focus on Eastern Colorado

When the boundaries of what would become the state of Kansas were being decided, it was considered that the western border of the state might be set as far as the Rocky Mountains.  But, there was really no advantage in that--there were few people out there and the cost of administrating that extra territory would have been prohibitive.

So, the western border was established as 25 degrees west of Washington, which we now know better as 102 03' 02" from the Greenwich Prime Meridian.

This is the point where Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado meet.  It's a hilly area (these things being relative), and as it has never been farmed, gives you a good idea what the land west of here once looked like.

A couple hundred miles due south is the point were Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado meet. 

 

This nearby land is flat, and has been plowed and planted with only indifferent success (the region is the heart of the dust bowl).

Riding to the west, the ground slowly climbs in elevation, but you'd hardly notice the difference from one mile to the next.  But, in time, you only have to look see those mountains, and that makes all the difference.

The agricultural history is one of dry farming and then irrigation-by-canal and then center-pivot irrigation where a seeming endless supply of water is available.  Where once sheep could hardly survive, you can see vast corn fields.

People have always lived here, of course. 

Sand Creek

In 1864 six-hundred-fifty cavalrymen (Colorado Volunteers) attacked a camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho who had been assured that they were in a safe spot and were flying the American flag.  Of the two hundred killed, two-thirds were women and children.  In most cases, these many conflicts with the Plains Indians were called "battles"; but, that was never the case with Sand Creek; this was always known to be different.

The location is now  national historic site.

To ride in Eastern Colorado is to experience solitude and quiet.  There are just a few roads that take virtually all the cross-state traffic, and then there are all the rest.

Over time, the important transcontinental lines have shifted north or south towards easier crossings of the Rocky Mountains.  Some rails are still here, and Amtrak still runs the old La Junta-to-Trinidad line even though that line is sometimes mentioned for abandonment.

Look at the towns...

Almost all reflect the optimism of the late 1880s through the end of the first world war.  The large brick buildings were not built to meet the current need, they were built because people foresaw that they would be necessary in the future.

Agate, Colorado

Amherst, Colorado

Arapahoe, Colorado

Brandon, Colorado

Bristol, Colorado

Campo, Colorado

Cheraw, Colorado

Cheyenne Wells, Colorado

Eads, Colorado

Galatea, Colorado

Haswell, Colorado

Haxtun, Colorado

Holly, Colorado

Holyoke, Colorado

Julesburg, Colorado.

Kim, Colorado

Kit Carson, Colorado

La Junta, Colorado

Limon, Colorado

New Raymer, Colorado

Pritchett, Colorado

Seibert, Colorado

Springfield, Colorado

Stoneham, Colorado

Towner, Colorado

Two Buttes, Colorado

Vona, Colorado

Walsh, Colorado

Wild Horse, Colorado

Wiley, Colorado

Roads are straight and follow section lines--those theoretical lines on a map that have no reference to the land.  It isn't everywhere that a road can be created based on a theoretical line on a sheet of paper.

If you only sit on your motorcycle and drone down the road, you'll likely find Eastern Colorado to be a miserable place.  Miserable.  You need to get off the larger roads, turn off the engine, walk around one of the towns.  Pay attention; you don't hear anything.

There's a strip of land about two-hundred miles wide that runs up the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains.  There are very few cities, and most towns that are still there are not prosperous.  But, it's a part of America that is little changed from what it always has been. 

You won't wear out the edges of your tires, but if you take the time to look around, you'll find an appreciation for what it is.

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last edit: 1/25/2015