The first of our new “Frontier Towns” series is about the historic Great Plains town of Julesburg, Colorado.
At the crossroads of multiple important and historic transcontinental routes lies the quaint Great Plains town of Julesburg, Colorado. This classic western community, that sits astride the South Platte River, and is just a hair’s breadth south of the Colorado-Nebraska state line, has seen its fair share of historic intrigue and events. The Pony Express Trail; the Central Overland, California, and Pike’s Peak Express stage; the transcontinental railroad; the Overland Trail; the Lincoln Highway’s Colorado Loop; Interstates 76 and 80; and other important routes converge or pass very close by here.
- Red icon – 1st Julesburg townsite
- Orange icon – 2nd Julesburg townsite
- Green icon – 3rd Julesburg townsite
- Blue icon – 4th and current Julesburg townsite
But, in this particular post, it’s not the movement of people, pioneers, freight, or mail that is of interest – it is the movement of the entire town. In fact, at four moves, Julesburg may be the most-often relocated community in the entire United States. Here are the details:
- The original Julesburg townsite was established by Jules Beni in 1852 below (south of) the South Platte River across from the mouth of Lodgepole Creek. It was burned to the ground on February 2, 1865, by warriors from several of the area’s Native American tribes.
- The second Julesburg townsite (also south of the river) was established in 1866 east of the original location to be close to the Fort Sedgwick Military Reservation.
- The third town site (now north of the river) was established when the railroad line was moved several miles to the northwest west of townsite #2 – this period was when the town earned the nickname and reputation as “The Wickedest City in the West.” During this time, the town’s population soared to approximately 5,000 folks due to the construction of the transcontinental railroad.
- Lastly, the townsite for Julesburg was moved east from the third Julesburg townsite to the junction of the transcontinental railroad and the Denver Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad. The town has remained in this location ever since.
While being known temporarily by several other names (Upper California Crossing, Overland City, Weir, and Denver Junction), the name Julesburg has always stuck and remains in place today.
The Town of Julesburg is now home to approximately 1,300 residents and is nicknamed “The Gateway to Colorado.” For those of us who have traveled to Colorado by way of Nebraska, Julesburg should be familiar, as it is the home of a state Welcome Center with a very impressive Pony Express Monument. The area’s storied history, cultural significance, and prairie landscapes are presented as part of the 19 mile long South Platte River Trail – Scenic and Historic Byway.