Virginia Dale Colorado was not established because of gold or silver. The town's claim to fame was a stagecoach route south of the Wyoming/Colorado border that led to the Oregon Trail.
1861, and the country was in turmoil. North and South battled on eastern farmlands and thousands died. This was the Civil War.
With the U.S. concentrating on the war, there wasn't much in the way of protection for the western territories. In 1862, the Cheyenne Indians of southern Wyoming, started raiding ranches, wagon trains and relay stations.
Ben Holladay, known as the "stagecoach king", started rerouting his stages from southern Wyoming, across the Colorado State Line and along the South Platte River into Denver.
On the return trip, the coaches traveled north and hooked up with the Oregon Trail and continued on into Utah. This road was known as the Cherokee Trail.
The town of Virginia Dale was erected in the summer of 1862. The new route was not a new one. General William Ashley used this trek on his trading expedition of 1824.
Changing a stagecoach route needed someone who knew what they were doing. Enter, Jack Slade, who organized many stage stations to Denver. The town of Virginia Dale was named for his wife.
One thing about Mr. Slade, he was a notorious gunfighter. Slade set himself in charge of the town and it soon became known as a haven for outlaws.
He knew when gold would be transferred from Denver and which route the stagecoaches would take. Slade would let his buddies know and when the outlaws robbed the coaches, he would be in on the take. No one knew.
When Ben Holladay found out about Slade's association with outlaws, he fired him and hired Robert Spotswood.
Spotswood had a plan to run stagecoaches between Denver and Leadville across the lush South Park. He succeeded and a new stage line was born, connecting towns in Colorado.
For years, stagecoaches ran along Dale Creek and when raids threatened the stations, two or more coaches were run for protection.
This overland stage enterprise was known as the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company.
As with all things, people moved on from Virginia Dale and the stage stops. Today the area is a prime farm community.
There are still some remains of the town to be seen. As you drive north out of Ft. Collins, Colorado on U.S. 287, head toward Laramie, Wyoming.
About five miles south of the border is a sign to Virginia Dale. Follow the historical markers and you will find Dale Creek. The land is now private property, but you can get an idea of the significance of the town by using your imagination.