Welcome to Lincoln County, Home of Pioneer Hospitality!
With its cowboy and homesteader heritage, Lincoln County is infused with an old-time spirit of hospitality. The discovery of gold in the Colorado mountains brought large cattle ranching operations to the area to help supply meat to the miners and stagecoach services to provide transportation. In 1870 the Kansas-Pacific Railroad came through, and small towns grew around the K-P's watering stops.
For many years the railroad and the ranches provided the economic support for the region, but President Theodore Roosevelt's famous breakfast with the cowboys at Hugo in 1903 effectively brought a close to the cowboy era and marked the beginning of farming in the region.
Changes in the homestead laws brought a flood of farmers to the area, and dryland wheat became important to the county's economy. Agriculture continues to be the financial backbone of Lincoln County.
Historic Trails in Lincoln County
During the Civil War era, it was the Smoky Hill Trail, the Leavenworth and Pikes Peak Express Company, the Butterfield Overland Dispatch, and eventually the railroad that brought travelers to Lincoln County. After the Civil War, cattle trails brought Texas cowboys and their herds through the county to reach Northern
Historic Trails in Lincoln County panelmarkets.
The Smoky Hill Trail was the primary route for western migration, and later formed the basis for stage and railroad lines.
The Leavenworth and Pikes Peak Stage Station No. 23 was on the South Fork of the Republican River about 16 miles east and a little north of Hugo, just inside the county line. Station No. 24 was situated between Hugo and Limon. In 1859, gold seekers used this direct route to the Pikes Peak region, but the route was not successful financially, and ended on November 23, 1859.
The Butterfield Overland Dispatch stage line was organized in 1866 for freight, mail and travel business. It followed the south branch of the Smoky Hill Trail, along the Big Sandy Creek, where it joined the north branch west of Hugo. The stage stopped at Willow Springs (which later became the site of the fairgrounds east of Hugo) as well as at Lake, which was just east of Limon. When the Kansas-Pacific railroad arrived in 1870, stage travel in this area came to an end.
The Texas-Montana Cattle Trail followed the Big Sandy Creek to a point about 23 miles southeast of Hugo. The trail then veered northwest to Bovina where ample water was available for the herds, and then extended past Walks Camp (north of Limon) to Wyoming and Montana. The last cattle to use the trail reportedly passed through this area in 1902.