The Overland Trail

The Overland Trail (HMYK5)

Location: Sterling, CO 80751 Logan County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 37.211', W 103° 10.81'

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Call it the Pikes Peak Trail, the Denver Road, Overland Trail, or the South Platte River Trail - by any name, it dominated the movement of people and goods in Colorado between 1858 and 1867 and ranks with the great trails of American history. Travelers caught the pioneer highway at departure points dotting the Missouri River, then rolled along the Platte River through Nebraska to Julesburg, Colorado, where they turned to follow the river's south fork to Denver, only 180 miles distant. During it heyday, the road carried perhaps 166,000 people, fortune-seekers mostly, but merchants, settlers, and homesteaders, too. In 1866, however, the Union Pacific Railroad chugged its way west to Julesburg, heralding the end of an era. By 1881, when railheads like Sterling greeted the newest engine of settlement, the trail had become only a memory.

"Old" Sterling dates to the early 1870s, when displaced southern families moved in and planted fields of wheat. Later, "new: Sterling flourished as a rail, ranching, and farming community. Here on the treeless high plains, settlers found shelter in sod houses - universally and affectionately called "soddies." One pioneer remembered: "The great thickness of the walls and their perfect joining with the early itself provided a shelter so cozy and proof against the extremes of either heat or cold that [no one] who had once lived in one cared to abandon it completely." Living in their earthen homes, these sodbusters created the great South Platte farm belt stretching from Denver to Julesburg, with Sterling at its very heart. Though cattle were the mainstay of the region's economy, in the early 1900s sugar beets emerged as a major crop. Sterling's population boomed again in the 1950s when oil was discovered. From trail days to today, Sterling continues to play an important role in northeastern Colorado.

HM NumberHMYK5
Series This marker is part of the Colorado: History Colorado series
Marker Number227
Year Placed1999
Placed ByColorado Historical Society
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 25th, 2014 at 7:33pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)13T E 653929 N 4498187
Decimal Degrees40.62018333, -103.18016667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 37.211', W 103° 10.81'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 37' 12.66" N, 103° 10' 48.60" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)970
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 102 Riverview Rd, Sterling CO 80751, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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