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Virginia Dale is an unincorporated community in northwestern Larimer County, Colorado in the United States. It is located in the foothills on U.S. Highway 287, approximately 45 mi (72 km) northwest of Ft. Collins and approximately 4 mi (6 km) south of the Wyoming border. In the late 19th century, it was the site of a famous stop of the Overland Trail. Today largely nothing remains of the original settlement.

The town was founded in 1862 by Jack Slade as a division point on the Overland Trail. Slade named the post after his wife Virginia. The post became widely known around the country by newspaper writers and other travelers. The town was described by Mark Twain in his novel Roughing It. From 1864 to 1866, the town also served as a camping place for emigrant trains moving westward, because part of the Oregon Trail through the Powder River Country in Wyoming was closed by order of the federal goverment. The closure was due to hostilities with the Native Americans (see Red Cloud's War), forcing emigrant parties along a southerly route through Denver and Fort Collins. In 1865 Vice President Schuyler Colfax was detained at the post by Native American raids.

After the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1867, the stage stop was abandoned. Settlers began moving into the area in 1872, establishing the first school in 1874. The first church was built in 1880. The community was formerly the site of a post office and cafe along Highway 287 until the 1990s, when the cafe and post office were shut down. The area continues to be a region of cattle ranching. The original 1874 school still stands along U.S. Highway 287.

Zip Code 80536



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Web Sites and Links

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