Colorado Pioneers:
Rugged Settlers of the West

early pioneers building log cabin, photo courtesy of Time Life Books.

Colorado pioneers started their journey from the east in the mid 19th Century.  Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, and many other eastern states were becoming overcrowded.

It took a certain kind of people to pick up stakes and travel into the unknown west. 

Many were looking for a new life, others a gold strike. 

For most, they all traveled the same way, by wagon, to their westward destination. 

Staging areas for wagon trains were along the Missouri River at Independence or St.  Joseph Missouri.

Established covered wagon trails were mapped out for the settlers and they could pick their route and which train to hook up with to get to their new home.

Supplies for the trip had to be purchased.  The prairie schooner was the wagon of the day.  Not only did the early settlers bring their belongings from home to homestead the new territory, they need to buy items they would need for the long journey.

Mules, oxen or horses to pull the wagon, guns and rifles, cast iron stove, bedding, warm and cool clothing, food stuffs to last months on end and many other necessities.

The wagon train must travel over thousands of miles to reach the far west coast.  At their first sight of the vast mountain range from the flat land of Colorado, many decided to settle on the plains of the territory.  To reach the summit of the Rocky Mountains was too much to bear.

Others decided to continue on.  But here is where the pioneers of Colorado would stay.  The prospectors continue into the foothills of the Colorado territory to stake their claims.

Farmers put down stakes near a river or stream and start farming the land, living out of their covered wagons until they can build their homes out of logs or sod.

Trading posts had been set up many years before and the farmers could sell their produce to other settlers, mountain men and trappers and Indians.

Cattlemen arrived with their stock to start their ranches.  Cowboys were needed to tend the cattle and work the land for the ranchers.

Women found their part in the history of the Colorado west.  Some were famous, others were infamous.

So, would you have been one of those hearty souls to say goodbye to home, family and friends to make a new life in the unknown west?

It's easy now to uproot yourself and travel the interstate with all your belongings in a trailer, but think back a couple hundred years ago to the hardship and struggle of the new Colorado pioneers.

return to Explore Old West Colorado from Colorado Pioneers