Boggsville is best known as the last stop on the trail for Kit Carson, who spent the final year of his life here. But the town is better remembered as a starting point. As one of the first permanent Anglo communities in the Arkansas River valley, it heralded the arrival of a new culture on the prairies of southeastern Colorado—one based on farming and ranching.
Hispanic and Native American peoples had long claimed this region, and both still had a strong presence in 1866, the year Boggsville was established. Indeed, the town resembled a typical Mexican village, with adobe buildings, hacienda-style ranches, and acequias (canals) for irrigation. Much of the land Boggsville occupied was acquired through the town founders’ Mexican and Cheyenne wives—Rumalda Luna Boggs, whose great-uncle (Mexican businessman Cornelio Vigil) controlled millions of Colorado acres; and Amache Prowers, daughter of the Cheyenne chief Lone Bear.
The founders themselves, Thomas Boggs and John Prowers, were influential in their own right—the former as a merchant and sheep rancher, the latter as one of southeastern Colorado’s first large-scale cattle ranchers. By 1873 Boggsville was the seat of Bent County and a busy agricultural center, but when the railroad bypassed it two years later, its doom was assured. The town survived barely a decade, and its population never exceeded a few dozen, yet Boggsville represented the nineteenth-century West in microcosm—a grand experiment, a dynamic mixture of people and cultures, a landscape on the brink of transformation.
The State Historical Fund has provided more than $130,000 for the preservation and restoration of the 1867 Prowers House, one of only two remaining historic buildings.
This text was originally featured in the 2003 High Stakes Preservation exhibition