For 10 years in the 1800s, the idyllic town of Boggsville flourished as a haven on the Santa Fe Trail. The only non-military settlement on the trail, Boggsville served as a welcome stopping place for travelers heading west and a center for trade and agriculture and today reminds motorized visitors of the life that used to be.
Boggsville grew where the Arkansas and Purgatory rivers join two miles south of present-day Las Animas. Founder Thomas O. Boggs (a great-grandson of Daniel Boone and son of then-Missouri Gov. Lilburn Boggs) took the Santa Fe Trail as far as Bent’s Fort and worked for the Bent brothers for 19 years. He and his Mexican wife, Rumalda, stepdaughter of Charles Bent, moved to their own place in 1862 just south of a ranch that William Bent had established in 1858.
In 1867, the noted frontiersman Kit Carson moved to Boggsville with his children and wife Josefa, aunt of Rumalda. This was his last home before his death in 1868 at Ft. Lyon.
Between 1863 and 1873 Boggsville grew to a regional hub of trade, agriculture, government and education thanks to its proximity to both the Santa Fe Trail and sheltering Fort Lyon. The town welcomed a peaceful mix of Native Americans, Mexicans and white settlers.
Much credit for the amity was thanks to settler John Prowers and his Cheyenne wife, Amache Ochinee, who successfully crossed the divide between whites and Native Americans. With violent fighting on all sides, Boggsville was never troubled by Cheyenne dog soldiers.
The remarkable Amache was born near Bent’s Fort in 1846, daughter of a Cheyenne chief. She was fluent in Cheyenne, English and Spanish and enjoyed buffalo hunting. She married trader Prowers when she was just 15 years old. Prowers also worked for the Bent brothers at the Taos end of the trade route. Her father, Ochinee, was one of the many peaceful Native Americans slaughtered at Sand Creek by U.S. soldiers. In recompense, the U.S. government gave 640 acres of land to survivors of those slain, and Amache and Prowers raised cattle on their parcel near Boggsville. They also built a home in the town and a trading post where they sold goods needed by travelers moving on westward.
Farms around Boggsville were the first in Colorado watered by irrigation ditches and in 1871 the first territorial school was built there. Legendary frontiersman Kit Carson moved his family to Boggsville in 1867 and later died at Fort Lyon.
As with many other towns along the wagon and mule trail, Boggsville was decimated when the railroad bypassed it and reached Las Animas in 1873. By 1880, Boggsville was virtually deserted.
After 105 years, the Pioneer Historical Society of Bent County sponsored the Boggsville National Historic District and began reviving the ghost of Boggsville as a living history museum. The only two original structures remaining on the site were the Boggs and Prowers homes, the earliest documented examples of Territorial architecture in the state. Both have been renovated to reflect life of the 1860s on the prairie. A buffalo herd and domesticated livestock add to the flavor. Recreations of other structures among the 20 buildings that made up Boggsville are planned.
Boggsville is open daily during the spring and summer, with group tours by reservation. The Historical Society hosts special events – Boggsville Days, Santa Fe Trail Day and a Boggsville Christmas party – with food, music and demonstrations of pioneer activities.
Just a few miles to the east is the John Martin Reservoir State Park, where you will find plenty of camping and all of the water sports you can think of. A few miles south and east is the David Harbour Dinosaur site, which was just found two years ago. Bents Fort is also a few miles away.
Boggsville is located off of U.S. Highway 50, on Colorado Highway 101, approximately two miles south of Las Animas on the banks of the Purgatory River. Boggsville is open during the spring and summer months and hosts two special events with food, music, pioneer demonstrations and tours. The site is open daily and group tours are offered by reservation. Annual activities at the site include Boggsville Days, Santa Fe Trail Day, and a “Boggsville Christmas” party.
Boggsville National Historic District
Highway 101 south from Las Animas