02 May 2012

Colorado & Wyoming International Boundary Lines

Historical maps can provide a wealth of information, beyond the basic, "on the surface" geography lesson. Recently, I discovered International Boundary Lines Across Colorado and Wyoming; A Lesson in Geography by Erl H. Ellis in my local library (Johnson Publishing Company, Boulder, Colorado; 1966.)  The text covers much more than just boundary lines, and I grabbed it off the shelf on a whim. I'm certainly glad that I did.

Image courtesy of Old World Auctions


The author, Erl H. Ellis, begins with a short review of four discourses that deal with the boundary lines in the Wyoming and Colorado area of the United States. He continues through discussions on Native Americans, the earliest explorers and their claims, and "The Pope's Title" of 1493.

Recall the title here; and realize that the more significant word is "International". International boundaries through Wyoming and Colorado, two of the interior west's land locked states?  Why, yes, indeed. The issue centered around the building of our country, certainly, but more recently, the Town of Breckenridge was questioned in August of 1936. A group of residents, part of the Women's Social Club, realized there was a map of the area from the 1819 secession from Spain to the US, that excluded the town. They proceeded to conduct a formal ceremony, finally putting Colorado's No Man's Land on the United States map, and *finally* officially a part of the country. The story is discussed at some length in the essay, and who would expect a story like that to be highlighted in a geographical publication? We continue to celebrate this occasion with our yearly "Kingdom Days" celebration, honoring our past as the only town in Colorado which was once its very own kingdom and not truly a part of America. Oh, and you can look up the title of Colorado's No Man's Land, it's been written about in several sources.

The point here, of course, is to check your library. A series of maps can tell you much about the history of the community you are researching than just how to get from point A to point B.