History Lesson: Ranching in Eastern Colorado

History Lesson: Ranching in Eastern Colorado

Hello, and welcome back to the blog! Today, I’m trying something a little different. Instead of activities the Ranch does directly I decided to do a little history lesson about the Eastern Colorado Plains, where Toedtli Ranch is located.


In the Early 17th Century, the government decided to sell the Western lands so thye could become part of national tax.(Homestead Act of 1862)  But, early settlers didn’t really want to partake in land claiming if they sought somewhere just to settle. They would stay on land until it was too populated or the grass became sparse, then they would move.

Early pioneers moved westward around the 1850’s. Minor livestock operations started to pop up along the Front Range because the forage was green in summer and spring which kept herds fed.

The one main downfall of ranching near the higher country is the weather and it’s severity.

There is much more snow in the high country than the eastern plains. The prairie grasses were cured well on the ground and fed well. This was well suited for year-long grazing.

By 1930, 20% of feed supply was used instead of forage, making it easier for cattle to be raised in the Front Range and the plains.

After the Great Depression, cattle herds became even more lucrative than sheep herders who were popular before the economical collapse.

The first cattle primarily in Colorado were the Texas Longhorn.  Colonists from the East brought European cattle then came the Hereford (relative of Red Angus) and the Durham.

Ranch Size

Around 1878, Colorado ranchers started to create larger areas claiming land and water.  Large pastures were fenced in and almost 640,00 acres were claimed, which halted the expanse of newcomers and smaller operations.

After WWI, the opportunity to welcome family ranchers was in full effect on a smaller scale. Just like William Toedtli did.

Even in the early 1880’s almost 90% of the livestock graving area did not cost a fee. There were then regulations and land policies put in place.

These created regulated grazing on Public Domain but, it was sponsored by the national cattle growers of the West.


Though life seemed to be working out nicely for Colorado pioneers there were many issues living out in the plains.

  • range wars
  • harsh climate
  • predator problems
  • poisonous plants
  • sometimes taxes

Even through it all they seemed to persevere and create cattle associations and establishing good cattle markets in Colorado.


At the Toedtli Ranch we are thankful to those first pioneers for establishing a powerful cattle market in the West. Pioneers like our founder William Toedtli who were the forefront of cattle ranching.


Reference: Rangelands