Mile 550: Jules Stretch

“Old Julesburg was a very busy place, primarily because it was at the junction of the main roads up the South and North Platte rivers, respectively called the Pikes Peak or Denver road, and the California Road or Overland Trail. The stages and Pony Express used the latter route, here fording the south Platte (wide and rough during spring runoff) to a point just above Lodgepole Creek, then following that stream westward to a point three miles east of present Sidney, then crossing Lodgepole and heading north. This route was surveyed by Lieutenant Bryan of the topographical engineers in 1858 and was called ‘Jules Stretch.'”

The Oregon Trail: Rock Creek Station, Nebraska to Fort Laramie, Wyoming, p.10 (


“Before we started out in the morning, we gave our horses all the water they would drink, for it was said to be fully thirty-two miles across the ridge from water to water. This was the short line which Jules [Beni] had laid out, so as to change the route and bring the pilgrim travel past this ranch. This particular strip of road was called ‘Jules Stretch.’ The road became considerably rocky as we ascended.”

— The Indian War of 1864, Eugene Fitch Ware (1911), p. 264


“Leaving Fort Kearny, the surveyors’ route lay along the valley of the Platte, the usual way traveled by Oregon-bound trains, to a point sixteen miles beyond the much used Laramie crossing. Here was located a new ford where the river was reported to be 610 yards wide, with a gravel bottom and water scarcely covering the axle trees of the wagons. Like all previous explorers, Bryan realized that bridging the Platte was out of the question and trains must take their chances in locating a good ford.

“From the Platte crossing the party ascended the south fork of that stream and its tributary, Lodgepole creek, to the Pine Bluffs, just across the present western Nebraska boundary in Wyoming. This area was known as a favorite winter residence of the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. The members of the expedition gathered dwarf pine for several days’ use because fuel, even buffalo chips, was reportedly scarce at the headwaters of Lodgepole creek.”

— The Army Engineers as Road Surveyors and Builders in Kansas and Nebraska, 1854-1858, W. Turrentine Jackson, Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains (February 1949 (Vol. 17, No. 1), pages 37 to 59.)

Mile 550: Jules Stretch