The Arkansas River Valley is a historical frontier in both the American and European sense. Americans view the frontier as unsettled or a sparsely settled area lands on the edge of "civilization." To Europeans, frontiers are boundaries or borders between nations or ethnic groups. Here at Boggsville, Hispanics, Anglo Americans, and American Indians coexisted with each other and the natural environment. In this high, dry country, nature dictated the activities people could carry out successfully. Farming in the traditional Anglo American sense proved all but impossible, instead grazing dominated land uses.
A Place Where Colorado Ranching Began
Boggsville holds a special place in Colorado's agricultural heritage. Local pioneers, such as the Bents and Hispanic herdsmen from New Mexico, recognized the potential of its pastures. By the middle of the 19th century, herds of grazing cattle and sheep, along with irrigated farm fields, could be seen along the banks of the Purgatoire River. When Thomas Boggs and John W. Prowers came here to settle, the bountiful forage was already well known. The success of Boggs and Prowers encouraged even more ranchers to come here to raise stock.
After the Gold Rush
The Pike's Peak Gold Rush of 1859 drew thousands of would be millionaires west. Despite their dreams, only a handful ever found gold. Most returned to the "states," or found other ways to make a living. Many turned to occupations they had known before coming west, such as farming and raising livestock. Within ten years, herds of cattle and to a lesser degree sheep ranged all across
eastern Colorado. The millions of acres of pasture on government land that were free for use, combined with high prices for cattle led to a "beef bonanza" for ranchers in the 1870s and 1880s.