8.12.2009

Virginia Dale

I've always wondered about the history behind the name of this town. It's in north central Colorado, close to the Wyoming border, and (I believe) was the nearest "town" to the ranch my family once owned.

Established in 1862, Virginia Dale was a home station on the Overland Trail, meaning that passengers could disembark, get a meal, and stay overnight in a hotel if the stage was delayed by weather or nightfall. Thirty to fifty horses were kept at the station which was located in a pleasant, grassy glade (or dale) along a clear bubbling stream, later named Dale Creek. Station manager Jack Slade probably named the post after his wife Virginia. Slade was an excellent stage manager as long as he stayed sober. Many stories credit him with outrageous actions from shooting up a saloon in LaPorte for serving his stage drivers whiskey to robbing the stage of $60,000 in gold which disappeared. Slade was fired as stage manager in November 1892 after a drunken shooting spree at nearby Fort Halleck and left with his wife for Virginia City, Montana where he was hanged in early 1894 by angry miners.

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