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David Butterfield began a Smoky Hill Trail stage and freight service in 1865. The official name of the company was “Butterfield’s Overland Despatch” (BOD). He did use the possessive apostrophe and chose the alternate spelling of “dispatch.” He used what would become known as the “South Branch” of the Smoky Hill Trail in Colorado. He sold to Ben Holladay, the “Stagecoach King” in 1866. He moved the route to the “North Branch” of the Smoky Hill Trail, then sold to Wells Fargo. The earliest branch of the trail, the Middle Branch” was also known as the “Starvation Branch” of the trail because of the hardships encountered by the earliest users of the trail.

“Those two little words, ‘Pike’s Peak,’ are everywhere. . . . There are Pike’s Peak hats, and Pike’s Peak guns, Pike’s Peak boots, Pike’s Peak shovels, and Pike’s Peak goodness-knows-what-all, designed expressly for the use of emigrants and miners . . . we presume there are, or will be Pike’s Peak pills, manufactured with exclusive reference to the diseases of Cherry valley and Pike’s Peak goggles to keep the gold dust out of the eyes of the fortune hunters.”

                                        Missouri Republican (St. Louis), March 10, 1859

Soon after leaving Bent’s, we caught the first view of Pike’s Peak. We stopped the train and took a good long look. Moses stood upon a mountain and gazed upon his promised land; and we stood upon the Plains and gazed upon our mountain. . . . It was to us everything. It represented gold, and plenty of it.”    William Parsons, 1858

“Thus far no gold has been discovered within sixty miles of Pike’s Peak; but the first reports located the diggings near that mountain, and ‘Pike’s Peak’—one of those happy alliterations which stick like burs in the public memory—was now the general name for the whole region.”    Albert D. Richardson, 1859


Elbert County Historical Society

Eroded ruts (right) and vegetation changes caused by soil compaction (above) mark the Smoky Hill Trail east of Kiowa, Colorado.