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Cherokee Trail


The Cherokee Trail in Westminster


Ancient Paths Cherokee Trail signThe Cherokee-Overland Trail crosses into Westminster from Tennyson Street and 52nd Avenue, where Tennyson crosses over Clear Creek at or near where Jim Baker maintained a creek crossing and his cabin. The trail proceeds northwest across the west side of Hidden Lake, which was called Mud Lake in the early 20th century. The trail intersects Sheridan Boulevard and West 73rd Avenue, bisecting present-day Shoenberg Farm. The trail continued to the location where the town of Semper was established near present-day Pierce Street and West 92nd Avenue and continued northwest to Church's Stage Stop, which was located at Old Wadsworth Boulevard and West 105th Avenue, on the east side of the railroad tracks where Wadsworth passes under the tracks.


For a large view map of the Cherokee Trail, see Cherokee Trail Map


History of the Cherokee Trail


The Cherokee Trail was established around 1849 by Cherokee Indians and their colleagues who were heading west to seek gold. Starting at Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River in southeast Colorado, the Cherokee Trail left the Santa Fe Trail and proceeded to Pueblo and then north along the Front Range into Wyoming, joining the Oregon Trail at Fort Bridger, on Blacks Fork of the Green River. The Cherokee Trail was a primary route from 1849 on for those traveling West to homestead or seek their fortunes during the gold rush of the 1850s.


In 1862, in an effort to avoid the Indian uprisings that were occurring on the Oregon Trail in central Wyoming, the U.S. Post Office Department ordered the Overland Stage Company to officially relocate from the central Wyoming route to the Cherokee Trail. The Overland Trail Denver Loop refers specifically to that portion of the mail and passenger route that was established as a result. Not just a cutoff or a detour, it became for a while the only emigrant route on which the federal government would allow travel, and consequently was the principal corridor to the west from 1862 to 1868. The Overland Trail Stage Stations were established roughly every 10-15 miles from Julesburg, Colorado to Fort Bridger, Wyo.


In 1865, the Overland Wagon Road Company opened a road along the route of the 1850 Cherokee-Overland Trail under a charter issued by the Colorado Territorial legislature.  Known as the Overland Wagon Road, it was used as a primary stage and freight route between Denver, Boulder and points north.


Starting in 1864, freighters and travelers along the Cherokee-Overland route stopped at the Church’s Ranch Stage Station (earlier known as Child’s Station) near what is now Old Wadsworth and 105th.  Located on the homestead of pioneers George and Sarah Church, the station provided travelers with overnight accommodations.  The Churches operated the station throughout the remainder of the 19th century, and frequently hosted teamsters hauling loads of hay from the plains agricultural districts to the mining camps above.  Church’s Station was located about twelve miles north of Denver, a standard distance used by pioneers to gauge the limits of daily horse travel during the settlement era.




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