5th Annual Boggsville Days will celebrate important Colorado history
Boggsville might be one of Colorado’s best kept historical secrets, but organizers of the annual Boggsville Days are trying to make sure it doesn’t stay that way.
Oct. 11-12, 2019, will mark the fifth year in a row for the revived Boggsville Days celebration, located near the town of Las Animas, Colo. The event was originally conceived back in the early 1990s, after the two remaining historic homes on the site were restored. Boggsville Days was revived again by Larry Bourne, the current president of the Bent County Historical Society, as a way to raise awareness of Boggsville’s historical significance and also raise funds to maintain the houses and grow the site into more of a destination for a wider demographic of people interested in the region’s history.
“Boggsville was an integral part of southeast Colorado development,” said Bourne when contacted about the upcoming Boggsville Days event. “There were a lot of firsts that happened at Boggsville in southeast Colorado. The first school was started at Boggsville. The first irrigation in southeast Colorado (in 1867, residents dug an irrigation canal called the Tarbox Ditch, which was seven miles long and irrigated more than 1,000 acres). Hereford cattle were introduced through John Prowers, who lived in Boggsville. The sheep industry, Thomas Boggs, he did sheep. There is a connection with Bents Old Fort, Bents New Fort and Sand Creek. John Prowers was married to a Cheyenne maiden and her dad was killed at Sand Creek. Both John Prowers and Thomas Boggs worked for William Bent (who built Bents Fort). Thomas Boggs worked at Bents Old Fort along with Kit Carson and John Prowers worked with William Bent at Bents New Fort. People don’t realize the historic significance of Boggsville.”
That history includes Boggsville quickly becoming a hub of agricultural and ranching activity after its founding in 1866. By 1870, Boggsville had become the center of society in the area and was named the county seat. Founder, Thomas Boggs, became the town’s first sheriff in 1870, and he was elected to the territorial legislature the following year. The county offices were located in the Prowers House (built by John Prowers) and a public school was built. In a short time, the settlement of Boggsville grew into a center for trade and education.
Its status in the region was to be short-lived, however, as the Kansas Pacific Railroad built a branch line from Kit Carson to Fort Lyon in 1873 and built its own town, which they called West Las Animas, signaling the future demise of the Santa Fe Trail and its slower and less efficient wagon traffic. That same year, Boggsville lost its county seat status to Los Animas City. Prominent citizen John Prowers, looking to his business interests, proceeded to relocate to Las Animas, where he built a new house and opened a general store.
Although its prominence was short-lived, Boggsville’s contributions to southeast Colorado were immeasurable. It is that historical significance that Bourne and the Bent County Historical Society hope to not only convey, but help others appreciate and carry into the future through the annual Boggsville Days.
“It was my thought if we started these Boggsville Days and generated enough people coming out with events, that we could start doing fundraising to help maintain the grounds and houses more,” Bourne said. “We try to show people that we actually have things down here in southeast Colorado, events that are out of the ordinary that can be attended. We talk to a lot of people who have never heard of Boggsville that come out and are blown away about what we are doing out here.”
The schedule for the upcoming Boggsville Days on Oct. 11-12, 2019, is a full one and admission is free. While Friday’s activities will be more casual and limited to participants arriving, setting up and doing some of their demonstrations (horse drawn farming, some re-enacting, etc.) it is Saturday, Oct. 12 that will kick off at 9 a.m. and keep running until the ticketed chuckwagon meal in the evening is finished.
“We got a couple of singer and cowboy poets with national recognition, Randy Huston and Danny McCurry are coming in for entertainment,” said Bourne as he discussed 2019’s schedule. “We try to have a lot of kids games. We’ve got the Burlington Old Town Museum gunfighters (re-enactors) coming. The Buffalo Soldiers out of Kansas are supposed to be coming. We’ve got a stagecoach that is 150 years old that we will have out for display. Horse drawn farming demonstrations will be taking place. There will be Mountain Man portrayals. We also have a descendent of Thomas Boggs coming in this year.”
Also included in the event will be the opportunity to see a wheelwright, trappers, a blacksmith, hear storytellers, take a wagon ride, make adobe bricks, watch a pie eating contest, and even eat a delectable chuck wagon meal on Saturday night. The chuck wagon meal is a fund raiser for Boggsville and is ticketed at $30 per person. Six chuck wagons, organized by Delbert “Doc” Jones, are scheduled to be cooking for the hundreds of people anticipated to show up for Boggsville Days on Saturday. ❖
— Rogers is a freelance writer and photographer located east of Parker, Colo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find him on Facebook at Official Lincoln Rogers Writing & Photography Page.