Last Home of Kit Carson
Located off of U.S. Highway 50, on Colorado Highway 101,
approximately 2 miles south of the City of Las Animas.
A Path to Permanent Settlement
Boggsville represents one of the First Non-Military Settlements in Southeastern Colorado. Founded on the Banks of the Purgatoire River in the Early 1860s in Las Animas, Colorado. After the addition of New Mexico Territory to the United States in 1848, the lands located south of the Arkansas River took on a new perspective. Bent's Old Fort was the center of the fur trade for a large expansive area. By 1849 the fur trade was over except for some small-scale trading in buffalo hides with the plains Indian tribes. This change created unemployment for many, some of whom had worked for the Bent brothers and Ceran St. Vrain for many years. Thomas Boggs was one such individuals who had worked for the Bents since about 1843. His duties included the organization and care of stock raising between Taos, New Mexico and the mouth of the Purgatoire.
Boggs was married to Ramalda Luna Bent in Taos in 1846. She was the stepdaughter of Charles Bent, L.A. Allen and Charles Ritc, and heir of Cornelio Vigil. Vigil and St. Vrain obtained nearly four million acres of Mexican Grant land from the Governor of New Mexico in 1843. They acquired their 2040 acre tract based upon a promise of title to Rumalda by St. Vrain. Boggs spent time in California in the early 1850s and worked for Lucian Maxwell up until about 1862. Boggs then moved his family to a spot two miles upstream from the mouth of the Purgatoire. The group built a settlement of mostly cottonwood logs near the river. In 1866 they built a fine quality adobe nine-room house in anticipation of prosperity for the rich bottom lands of the Purgatoire Valley. At this time the area was quite hostile but the Civil War was over and many others would soon be coming. Cheyennes and Arapahoes were still resisting the sudden surge of settlement and the slaughtering of buffalo. Many raids and depredations were carried out against Trail travelers and settlements until about 1874.
Kit Carson's Last Home
Boggs was joined by John W. Prowers in 1867, a teamster who had worked for William Bent and for the Sutler at Old Fort Lyon. Mr Prowers built another fine two-story adobe house containing fourteen rooms - built for permanency. He was later joined by Kit Carson and John Hough, a merchant. Boggsville was the last home of Kit Carson before his death in 1868. Boggs and Carson were very close friends and Carson lived east of the Boggs house. In a short time the settlement of Boggsville grew into a center for trade education, culture and had all of the attributes of a real town although it never became know as a real town. From 1866-1973 it was a community for nearby settlers. The school opened in 1871. The Prowers house and surrounding buildings served as Territory.
Boggs raised sheep and Prowers raised cattle. Both industries flourished on the land surrounding Boggsville during the 1870s. Irrigated farming had developed in the area heavily since 1864. Boggsville supplied the major amount of grain, fodder, vegetables, and other food crops for the region.
As the area developed a new town sprang up across the Arkansas River in February 1869 called Las Animas City. A bridge was built across the river and travel along the Santa Fe Trail made a major shift to the south side. Las Animas City took away the possibility of Boggsville becoming a town. It still served as the center of education and culture until 1874 while Las Animas City attained a reputation of being too rough and wild for such refinements.
Then came the railroads! In October 1873, the Kansas Pacific Railroad built a branch line south from Kit Carson heading for Ft. Lyon when suddenly it turned west, crossed the Arkansas River and built its own town- West Las Animas. Another boom town at the end of the railroad. Prior to this event AT&SF Railroad had stopped at Granada which increased freight and immigrant travel through Boggsville toward another boom town call Trinidad. By mid-1875 the AT&SF reached West Las Animas and both railroads competed for business at the temporary eastern terminus of the Santa Fe Trail. In the meantime, Las Animas City began its slow agonizing death. Boggsville did not die, it was caught up in the progress of settlement of the Arkansas and Purgatoire Valley. Boggsville gradually became just another farm and ranch so common in this region by 1880.
The people of Boggsville demonstrated that one could live and prosper in a country once thought an American Desert; that hostile Indians, weather and hardship against many odds could be overcome with perseverance and faith. The ethnic cultures could join together to conquer the elements and develop success for the future generations to realize. Boggsville was a success and the heart of present day farming and ranching began beating at Boggsville.
Contact: Richard Carrillo, Phone: (719) 456-0453. Boggsville is located on the Purgatoire River, two miles south of present day Las Animas on Colorado Highway 101. Boggsville is open during the spring and summer months and hosts two special events with food, music, pioneer demonstrations and tours. The site is open daily and group tours are offered by reservation. Annual activities at the site include "Boggsville Days", "Santa Fe Trail Day", and a "Boggsville Christmas" party.
Sometime after Bent's Original Fort was destroyed in 1848, it became common for the freight trains to cross to the south side of the River to arrive at Boggsville, at the confluence of the Purgatory and Arkansas Rivers. It was the first settlement in southeast Colorado, and officially founded in 1862. It has undergone restoration by the Boggsville Revitalization committee under the direction of Phil Peterson, Kit Carson's grandson of Swink Colorado. When restoration began, it was just a pile of rubble.
In 1985, the site was acquired by the Pioneer Historical Society of Bent County. Restoring these structures is the major focus of the revitalization program. They also sponsor Living History activities one project being the dramatic re-creation of the Cheyenne Indian raid of 1867, for the 1994 annual meeting of the Santa Fe Trail Association. This raid was a product of unrest following the Sand Creek Massacre (November, 1864). It resulted in the death of four Indians, two soldiers and two settlers. The re-enactment was filmed and is available on VHS video from the Boggsville Store.