High Plains Country

High Plains Country (HM20VA)

Location: Eads, CO 81036 Kiowa County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 28.681', W 102° 46.748'

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Plains Indian Life

By the nineteenth century, Colorado's southeastern plains country was home to many native peoples, including Comanches, Kiowas, Plains Apaches, Arapahos, and Cheyennes. Although vastly different in language and culture, they shared certain adaptations and inventions that allowed them to survive and prosper in the challenging prairie environment. The horse, introduced to the Indians by the Spanish, provided the means to hunt the far-ranging herds of buffalo, the Indians' primary food source. The travois, a horse-drawn carrier, made possible the rapid movement of people and things. And the tipi, a portable buffalo hide shelter, provided protection against even the most severe storm.

The Southern Cheyennes
Originally an agricultural people of the Great Lakes region, the Cheyennes ventured into the western plains country sometime in the seventeenth century, where they became a classic Plains Indian people. By the early nineteenth century, the Southern Cheyennes occupied present Kiowa County and southeastern Colorado. Here they lived with other native peoples, sometimes in cooperation, sometimes in conflict. After the great Indian peace council of 1840, a generation of quiet settled over the region. Tragically, this peace was shattered in 1864 at Sand Creek, a few miles east
Buffalo Country
of here, when U.S. troops killed over 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho men, women, and children. In 1867 the Cheyennes—along with their Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche allies—were forcibly removed to reservation lands in present Oklahoma.

(Top Image Caption)
Cheyenne women tanning buffalo hides

(Left Center Image Caption)
Plains Indian travois

(Right Center Image Caption)
Big Belly, Cheyenne

Buffalo Country

As North America's largest land animal, the buffalo weighs in at 3,000 pounds, stands six feet tall, and spans twelve feet between head and tail. Before the combined pressure of white and Indian hunters decimated the great herds in the late nineteenth century, more than thirty million roamed the western grasslands, with about eight million here on the southern Plains. Although large and ponderous-looking, a buffalo can gallop at speeds up to thirty-five miles per hour—and can sustain this pace for fifteen miles. If an object does not move, a buffalo may not see it at all. Today, buffalo thrive in zoos, parks, wildlife refuges, and on ranches.

The Great Buffalo Hunt
In January 1872, twenty-one-year-old Grand Duke Alexis of Russia visited Denver, where he was promised an exciting buffalo hunt. The ducal escort party included some of the West's most legendary
Making the Desert Bloom
names: Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, and James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok. Detraining at Kit Carson, Colorado, the hunters headed for a valley between Rush Creek and the Big Sandy, a few miles northeast of here. Alexis, armed with a brace of pistols, bowie knife, and rifle, took aim and knocked down a fine bull and two cows. The success of the gala hunter, along with the champagne and whiskey that flowed freely, greatly improved relations between Russia and the United States.

(Top Image Caption)
Herd of Bison, Near Lake Jessie, John Mix Stanley, 1855

(Left Center Image Caption)
The Great Royal Buffalo Hunt, Louis Maurer, 1894

(Right Center Image Caption)
Gen. George Custer and Grand Duke Alexis

Making the Desert Bloom

Colorado's southeastern plains—a spectacular shortgrass country of rolling hills, broad river valleys, and rugged canyons—excited comments from early Spanish and American explorers. In 1601 Don Juan de Oñate wrote of "extensive and delightful plains." In 1706 Juan de Ulibarri marveled at the "great fertility of the land." One hundred years later, two American explorers—Lt. Zebulon M. Pike in 1806 and Maj. Stephen H. Long in 1820—saw
only a "desert." Yet, this wasteland was rich enough to support untold numbers of buffalo, antelope, and deer. Later, it would accommodate great herds of cattle, and the sodbuster's plough would bring forth vast crops of wheat, corn, sorghum, and potatoes. Truly, the desert could be made to bloom.

Don't Fence Me In
Large-scale cattle ranching on these high plains began during the 1870s. By then, the Plains Indians had been forcibly removed to reservations, and the great buffalo herds had been hunted to near extinction. Here, in southeastern Colorado, the vast grasslands attracted eastern and European capitalists who saw a beef bonanza equal to any gold discovery. And so began the day of the cattleman—a time when the range was open and grass was king. To help the great cattle barons, Colorado required would-be sodbusters to fence roaming cattle out of their property. The open range prevailed until the late 1890s, when a network of rails, windmills, and barbed wire opened this region to farmers.

(Top Image Caption)
Hay harvest, southeastern Colorado

(Center Image Caption)
Cattle grazing on open range

(Bottom Image Caption)
"A cowboy dining room"

High Plains Country

· Manufactured in 1905, the Kit Carson County Carousel is the only
hand-carved carousel in the nation with full original paint, one of only thirteen National Historic Landmarks in Colorado.
· The Great Plains Reservoirs, four large natural depressions located along Highway 287, provide recreational opportunities year-round. The reservoir's names, Nee Grande ("Big Water"), Neesho Pah ("Black Water"), Nee Noshe ("Standing Water") and Nee Shah ("Queen") are of unknown Native American origin.
· Sand Creek Massacre (on private land). On November 29, 1864, the third regiment of Colorado Volunteers attacked an unsuspecting Cheyenne and Arapaho village at Sand Creek. Over 150 Indians—mostly women and children—were killed, bringing a new wave of conflict to Colorado's high plains.
· Comprising only 120 square feet, the smallest jailhouse in the United States can be seen in Haswell.
· Center of a vast trading empire, Bent's Old Fort flourished between 1834 and 1849. The National Park Service operates the reconstructed fort year-round. Experience the mountain man era through the fort's educational programs.
· Founded as New Bent's Fort and renamed Fort Wise, Fort Lyon took its existing name in 1861. Originally located 20 miles to the east, the fort was moved to its present location near Las Animas after it was flooded in 1867. Kit
Carson died at the new Fort Lyon in 1868.
· The Bent County Historical Courthouse in Las Animas, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the oldest continuously operated courthouse in Colorado (since 1888).
· The Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway traces a 188-mile portion of the famous trade route through one of the last strongholds of the nomadic Plains Indians and one of the first toe-holds of early homesteading pioneers.
· Boggsville, founded in 1862 by Thomas O. Boggs, was the home of prominent frontier families. Most of the original homes have been restored.
· The Camp Amache detention center operated between 1942 and 1945 and housed some 10,000 Japanese Americans evacuated from the West Coast during the anti-Japanese hysteria of World War II.
HM NumberHM20VA
Series This marker is part of the Colorado: History Colorado series
Year Placed1997
Placed ByColorado Historical Society, Colorado Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, August 17th, 2017 at 6:10pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)13S E 693724 N 4261190
Decimal Degrees38.47801667, -102.77913333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 28.681', W 102° 46.748'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 28' 40.86" N, 102° 46' 44.88" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)719
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 250-298 CO-96, Eads CO 81036, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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Nearby Markersshow on map
Eads Roadside Park Exhibit
0.01 miles
Kiowa County Veterans Memorial, a War Memorial
0.03 miles
Unity Lodge No. 142, A.F. & A.M.
0.25 miles
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Pleas for Peace
15.27 miles
The Sand Creek Massacre
15.28 miles
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The Attack
15.41 miles
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