Today John and I drove through eastern Elbert County, taking pictures, locating old towns and cemeteries. The picture above is Bijou Basin taken from County Road 150 north of Highway 86. We've had a very dry winter, as you can see. Hoping for a spring blizzard or two to give us some needed moisture.
When we got home, I started looking through 1880 Elbert County census records on Heritage Quest (available through the Elbert County Library District) and ran across a very interesting household:
Yes, your eyes are seeing right - that's a cattle owner and a sheep owner in the same household! Not only that, but there are 2 cowpunchers and 1 sheepherder there, too. Along with a bookkeeper and a brakeman for the railroad. The house was in the "East of West Bijou Basin Creek" precinct, which means it could have been anywhere from West Bijou Creek to the Colorado state line, Elbert County's eastern boundary at the time. It's interesting to note that the two proprietors had not lived in Elbert County before the census was taken. And the longest any of the other men had lived in Elbert County was 8 months.
Sheep and cattle wars were taking place in the west at this time. The 1880 Agriculture Census shows Elbert County had 66,803 sheep while its cattle numbers were 12,275 range cattle and 1,582 milk cows. 37 percent of the sheep in the state Colorado were in El Paso, Huerfano, Larimer and western Elbert counties. Weld and Elbert counties held a fraction over 37 percent of the cattle in eastern Colorado.
As far as I know, Elbert County didn't have any major sheepmen and cattlemen confrontations. Eventually, cattle took over as the leading stock in Elbert County.