“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Kiowa in Elbert County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)

Trail Under Siege / Rising to the Challenge

Trail Under Siege Marker image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
1. Trail Under Siege Marker
Trail Under Siege

Indians of Colorado’s High Plains
Kiowa and Comanche Indians migrated to these prairies in the 1700s, followed by Cheyennes and Arapahos in the early 1800s. The region’s vast grasslands, thick bison herds, and brisk fur trade made for prosperous, if not entirely harmonious, living; the allied Cheyennes and Arapahos warred frequently against the Comanches and Kiowas (who gradually moved south of here) until 1840, when the tribes agreed to a historic peace. In 1851 the United States granted most of eastern Colorado to the Cheyennes and Arapahos, but when gold rushers began stampeding through here after 1859, strife erupted anew, this time between whites and Indians. On tragic episode (the 1864 Hungate Massacre) occurred about fourteen miles northwest of Kiowa. Though they fought for their homeland, the Indians were badly outgunned and outnumbered; by 1869 they had been banished from Colorado’s plains forever.

Smokey Hill Trail
Denver-bound travelers could save distance and time on the Smokey Hill Trail but only if willing to risk death by Indian attack. The trail bisected the Cheyennes and Arapahos’ treaty granted homeland, and the tribes kept it under siege almost continuously in the late 1860s. On branch earned notoriety as the “Starvation Trail” after an 1859 gold rush

Rising to the Challenge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
2. Rising to the Challenge Marker
party met a disastrous end, but the Smokey Hill became a main highway in 1865 when the Butterfield Overland Dispatch began running stagecoaches over it. With fortified stage stops every few miles (including one right here), the route was reasonably well defended, but passengers never rested easy; the war cry might go up at any moment. Enough people took their chances, though, to keep the Smoky Hill Trail busy until the 1870 opening of the Kansas Pacific Railroad.

Rising to the Challenge

Women and Ranching
When not cooking, doing laundry, or milking the cows, Emily French could be found building furniture, climbing on roofs to install stovepipes, and branding cattle on her sister’s homestead about ten miles southwest of here. Such “men’s” chores often fell to women on nineteenth-century Colorado ranches, where the imperatives of work knew no gender; when duty called, women baled hay and mended fences with the best of them. Many also kept the family books and held the purse strings, as well as raising children, sewing clothing, and fulfilling other traditionally “female” roles. Visitors from back east often thought it scandalous to find women mounting their horses astride (instead of sidesaddle) and laboring alongside men. But in a frontier environment, it didn’t matter who did the work only that it got done.

Civilian Conservation

Trail Under Siege Marker image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
3. Trail Under Siege Marker
Kiowa’s devastating May 1935 flood had one positive outcome: It brought the Civilian Conservation Corps to town. Among the most successful of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, the CCC employed jobless young men in public works projects. A crew arrived a week after the flood to haul away debris; four months later, the corps established a permanent camp to address the disaster’s chief cause; soil erosion. Using the Carnahan ranch (five miles south of here) as a proving ground, the CCC taught area landowners to use check dams, diversions ditches, and contour furrows to keep topsoil and groundwater in place. Kiowans embraced the techniques as well as the roughly two hundred CCCers, who spent much time and money in town. By the time the CCC camp closed in 1941, it had helped Kiowa wash away the flood’s painful memory.
Erected 2001 by Colorado Historical Society. (Marker Number 272.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the History Colorado marker series.
Location. 39° 20.802′ N, 104° 28.023′ W. Marker is in Kiowa, Colorado, in Elbert County. Marker is on Colorado Street (County Route 86), on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Kiowa CO 80117, United States of America.
Other nearby markers.
Frontier Women image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
4. Frontier Women
Freida Hammil and Augusta Maul, near Kiowa about 1895. Survival and success on the frontier depended upon cooperation, equal participation, and an ability to set aside certain Victorian ideas. (Courtesy Elbert County Historical Society)
At least 4 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Kiowa (here, next to this marker); Pioneer Women of Colorado (here, next to this marker); Elizabeth Main Street (approx. 6.9 miles away); Historic Section House (approx. 6.9 miles away).
Categories. Native AmericansRoads & VehiclesSettlements & SettlersWars, US Indian
1935 Kiowa Flood image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
5. 1935 Kiowa Flood
The 1935 Kiowa Creek flood destroyed one third of Kiowa’s buildings and buried miles of farmland under a layer of sand and silt. (Courtesy of Elbert County Historical Society.)
Kiowa CCC image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
6. Kiowa CCC
Elbert County’s Civilian Conservation Corps camp resembled others throughout the state and country. Facilities at this camp included barracks, a kitchen and mess hall, hospital, recreation hall, library, and classrooms. (Courtesy Elbert County Historical Society)
Kiowa CCC image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
7. Kiowa CCC
The Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, 1938. The CCC offered jobs that boosted morale, taught new skills, and provided regular paychecks. (Courtesy Elbert County Historical Society)
Dietemann Ranch image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
8. Dietemann Ranch
In 1868, five miles east of Kiowa a band of Arapahos killed Henrietta Dietemann and her five-year-old son. Indians viewed ranches-like the Dietemann homestead, shown here in 1889-as well as towns and stagecoach stations, as an invasion of their hunting grounds. (Courtesy Elbert County Historical Society)
Kiowa Indians image. Click for full size.
By Charles T. Harrell, June 30, 2011
9. Kiowa Indians
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,064 times since then and 126 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Charles T. Harrell of Woodford, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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