Wednesday, February 20, 2019


By Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Image result for images of pawnee buttes colorado
Pawnee Buttes on the Pawnee Narional Grasslands in
Northeast Colorado - Photo from USDA Forest Service
In my current work in progress, "The Outlaw's Letter", my hero's family has a ranch on the northeast plains of Colorado. Now, I know many people may wonder, why the plains when the mountains are so close and have all the great mining history. Well, the plains have some rich history also.

Let's take a look at some of the towns on the central and northeast plains. Starting in the far northeast corner, you have Julesburg.
Julesburg is perhaps known as one of the stopping points on the Pony Express route, but its history goes much deeper. Here is a link to a history piece written in the Colorado Magazine's 1930 edition: It starts on page 139. Julesburg

Next is Fort Morgan. It was established around 1864 along the Overland Trail to protect those immigrating west, in addition to protecting supplies heading to Denver and the mining camps. This short piece begins on pg 227. Fort Morgan

Then of course there is Greeley. It was originally started as a utopian society in 1869 with the name Union Colony. It officially changed the name of the town to Greely in honor of Horace Greely, editor of the New York Times, who had come to Colorado during the initial gold rush of 1859. This link, beginning on page 135 tells the story of one of the pioneers who lived in the area. Greeley

There were also towns like Kit Carson, Limon, Wray, Burlington, Sterling and others who were part of the westward expansion of people and railroads. Of course you cannot forget the Goodnight Trail, running along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountians and the Great Western Cattle trail that had a portion run along the Kansas, Colorado border.

So the next time you think of Colorado, think about the area that was settled before you ever reach the mountains.

I will leave you with this link from the BLM on the empire of ranching in Northeast Colorado. Ranching History

And a story of a rancher who had not one, but two outlaws visit him on his ranch. Outlaws visit a ranch on the plains

In my novel "Chasing a Chance" my hero is traveling on the plains of Colorado as he heads to a town in trouble to save the woman he loved and thought he'd lost.

 Edwin found a pleasant place to stop in a stand of cottonwood near the Arkansas. He'd just forded the river as the sun was painting the western sky with red, purple and yellow. He wanted to keep going, but knew if he rushed in, he might walk into more problems than he could handle. Despite his desire to reach Booming and Mary, he wanted to arrive with an understanding of the area. He wanted to observe what was happening as best he could. The more he knew, the better he would help—could help—Mary. That was the story he told himself as he made camp and began to prepare his meal.
The truth was, he wasn't sure he was up for what he might have to do. Sure, he'd been in the war and survived. Now, he was an old man who'd spent the years since the war, taking it easy. If things got physical with whoever was taking over the town, he didn't know if he had what it took to prevail. What if he had to kill someone? He'd sworn after the war that he was done with violence, yet he'd so easily attacked Chet. What was he doing? Could he really do any good?
Edwin thought about the stories coming from that lower southeast section of the state. The stories of gangs from the Nation, of conflict about where the county seat would be. Was any of it true or just exaggerations of something small? The more he could find out, the better he felt he could handle what was happening. He just prayed it wasn't as bad as he'd heard
Edwin was lying back against his saddle, holding the locket, taking in the evening sounds. He enjoyed the soothing sound of the river, along with the other sounds he rarely heard in town. Into his reverie came the clip clop of a horse. He pocketed the locket and sat up to see who it might be, but was not alarmed. Whoever was coming would have smelled his smoke even if they hadn't seen his fire. He'd usually been able to talk his way through any situation. The horse came closer, heading toward his camp. The only sign of worry Edwin showed was a bit of perspiration on his upper lip. He had his hunting rifle, but that was only to be used as a last resort. He hoped to never use it against a human.
"Hello the camp," came the call from the twilight outside the fire's glow.

"Come on in, if you've a mind," Edwin replied, tracking the sound of the horse as it neared the fire.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here


  1. Look up the Battle of Julesburg, also Ft Morgan was not a military post, it was at Ft Segwick. The Texas Montana Cattle Trail as well as Goodnight went across Lincoln County. Hugo and Kit Carson are two of the older towns on the plains... 1860's, Limon was a johnny come later. Then there are the 100 year old petroglyphs made by Europeans in SE Colo.

    1. So true, which is why I put the links in for that additional information. Thank you for adding to the story. Doris

  2. Interesting reading about Colorado's ranching history, Doris. I liked your excerpt. I wanted to read more about outlaws visiting a ranch, but when I clicked on the link, it showed an error. Could you send me the article, please? I make mention in my book about ranchers befriending outlaws to keep their cattle safe from being rustled.