Walking through this quiet town situated along the South Platte River, it's hard to believe Julesburg was once the wickedest city in the West. It's true though — the city got its start as a Pony Express stop and, by the time the Union Pacific Railroad laid tracks through town in 1867, Julesburg was known as sin city.

Entirely burned to the ground two years earlier by Native Americans in retaliation for the Sand Creek Massacre, the new town was anything but improved. Julesburg was home to horse thieves, gamblers and con artists attracted by an abundance of saloons, dance halls and a steady supply of naive travelers heading west along the Overland Trail. One saloon in town claimed to sell the vilest of liquor at two bits a glass.

The Julesburg of today has little in common with its rowdy past. These days the town is a major shipping depot for the agricultural business. Visitors come for excellent tailwater fishing along the South Platte and some of the best bird watching in the state. The migrations in spring and fall are extraordinary. See proof of Julesburg's wild days at the Fort Sedgwick Depot Museum.

Imagine what life was like back in the wild heydays by traveling the South Platte River Trail scenic and historic byway Or walk part of the 19-mile-long South Platte River Trail, peppered with Pony Express stops and pioneer landmarks. Bring your binoculars: Sightings of warblers, vireos and other birds are highly likely.

The region’s two harvest seasons — July for wheat and October for corn and sugar beets — promote excellent hunting conditions as well. Stop by the Julesburg Family Market for a hunting license and directions to key spots, or just enjoy the abundant game found along the river and among the fields.

Or join the race fans flocking to the Julesburg Dragstrip, a lunch pad for hot rods that dates back to the late 1050s.


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