Wyoming '99: Wednesday

The old Virginia Dale stage station, a regular (and notorious) stop on the old Overland Trail.

The name of the place where the old Holliday place sits, if it has a name, is Virginia Dale. It's right near Dale Creek (the same creek where we'd gone on Monday to see the old trestle). Really, though, Virginia Dale was a few valleys over, where an old stage station was run by the notorious Jack Slade. We stopped in there too.

This is a little hard to read, so:

Established in 1862 by Overland Stage agent Joseph A. (Jack) Slade, the stage station may have been named after Slade's wife, Virginia. The bullet-riddle station served as a refuge from indian attacks for travelers and local residents. Slade himself gained notoriety for the killing of Jules Beni, one-time Overland Stage agent at Julesburg. It is said that Slad Cut off Jules' ears after the killing nailed one to a post in the corral, and carried the other on his watch chain. Slad was widely suspected of being in league with stage robbers during his tenure at Virginia Dale, and the mountain to the northeast became known as Robbers' Roost, because of the thieves who hid there. Slade later led an outlaw gang in Virginia City, where his career came to a sudden and violent end in 1864, when he was hanged by the local vigilance committee.

Mark Twain reports an encounter with Jack Slade in "Roughing It," though Twain scholars suspect he fabricated it, since his journey west actually didn't carry him through Slade's turf. The old story was that travelers would be safe while they were at Virginia Dale, but after they left, they'd be held up by outlaws who had an uncanny knowledge of exactly what they were carrying and where they had hid it--hence the suspicion that Slad was in cahoots.

Those were exciting times, but not always in a good way.

Click on the picture for a larger, more readable version. It says:

Three-quarters of a mile northwest from this point is the original VIRGINIA DALE, famous stage station on the Overland route to California 1862-1867. Established by Joseph A. (Jack) Slade and named for his wife, Virginia. Located on Cherokee Trail of 1849. Favorite camp ground for emigrants. Vice President Colfax and party were detained here by Indian raids in 1865. Robert J. Spotswood replaced Slade.

The trail ran through here, so you had to put up with whoever was the agent in charge at the station. Virginia Dale was in such a sweet little valley that people did look forward to getting here. Not too far away is a cliff known as a lover's leap in Indian legend--some kind of Romeo and Juliet tragedy happened here, according to local lore.

Ben "Holladay" does not seem to have been a relative. This sign is on the stage station itself.

Virginia Dale, Colo., Alt. 6977 ft.

This building was built by the United States Government in 1862. The first shingles were freighted from St. Joseph, Mo., at a cost of $450 per lb. Joseph Slade, the notorious outlaw, was division master of the old stage division which was located at this place.

Julianne at rest.

Wednesday: Holliday . . . Neighbors . . . Virginia Dale

Monday . . . Tuesday . . . Wednesday . . . Thursday . . . Friday . . . Saturday . . . Miscellaneous

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