The History of the Old West at Corral Bluffs

Corral Bluffs gained its name from ranchers who from 1867 to 1890 routinely corralled their cattle for a night at Corral Bluffs during their cattle drive from Texas to Denver on the The Goodnight-Loving Trail. An estimated 10 million cattle were herded during this period. (link to history of Jimmy Camp and Corral Bluffs

Map from the Old Colorado City Historical Society

Cattle were needed for the gold miners in the Rocky Mountains and American Indians on reservations. They were also sent east on the train and to new ranches in Montana and the Pacific Northwest.

Cattle drives usually began in the spring. About 3,000 head of cattle, many of them longhorns, were herded about 10-15 miles a day. They'd trail along in a line a couple miles long with pairs of cowboys on either side to direct them.

A crew of 10-12 cowboys was needed for each cattle drive. A horse wrangler was in charge of the remuda, or spare horses, as each cowboy would go through two or three horses a day. The cook drove the chuck wagon, cooked for the crew and also served as their doctor. Click here for a song entitled The Goodnight-Loving Trail about the cook--commonly referred to as the "old woman."

It was a difficult job for the crew. They could encounter Indians, floods, droughts, lightning or stampedes.

In 2008, El Paso County Parks Department did a brief archaeological survey of a portion of Corral Bluffs. County's archaeology study PDF

They found an ironstone sherd from a vessel possibly used by an uninvestigated cowboy range camp possibly located further south on the ridge from where the sherd was found.

Directly west of Corral Bluffs is Jimmy Camp Creek, named after an Indian trader named Jimmy Daugherty. During the 1830's, once a year Jimmy would bring his wagon full of kettles, cloth, whiskey and other goods and build a large fire on a nearby hill to signal local to Arapahoe and Cheyenne Indians that he was ready to trade for buffalo hides. Click here to download a PDF on the history of Jimmy Camp.

Jimmy Camp Creek

Directly south of Corral Bluffs is the abandoned Franceville Coal Mine. Matt France (1830-1900), an 1860s pioneer who was Colorado Springs' first telegraph operator and a member of the city's first town board was a cattle rancher who later owned the Franceville Coal Mine.

The Franceville Coal Mine was opened in 1882 and was the first major mining operation in the Colorado Springs area. The coal was used largely for domestic purposes, but significant amounts were used by the railroads, the Colorado Springs Electric Company, and by the gold reduction mills in Colorado City and Cripple Creek. The Franceville Mine ceased operations following the floods of the summer of 1965.

Cattle drive from West Texas
Early settler's cabin in Corral Bluffs
Colonel Charles Goodnight, Civil War veteran and cattle rancher who invented the chuckwagon. He and Oliver Loving developed the Goodnight-Loving Trail.
Oliver Loving, Civil War veteran and cattle rancher who helped develop the Goodnight-Loving Trail.