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Logan County Courthouse Art Gallery

Enjoy this series of virtual field trips, highlighting some of the gems of Sterling and Logan County. We are looking forward to your next visit when it is safe once again to get out and travel!

sterling queen city of the high plains

“Sterling – Queen City of the High Plains”

This painting represents not only the City of Sterling today, but reveals some hidden history in its development. The vastness of the high plains and the surprising height of some summer cloud formation gently cradles the city lights. Soon daylight will end and the cool evening breezes will usher in another quiet night on the plains.

By Artist Eugene Carara

Inside the historic Logan County Courthouse in downtown Sterling is the Eugene Carara art collection. These oil paintings were purchased by private citizens and then donated to Logan County to keep the collection together. The paintings are symbolic of historically important events or locations to the people of northeastern Colorado.

Sterling – Queen City of the High Plains 1873-1984

Sterling was remarkable from the beginning. Settled primarily by Southerners escaping the grim aftermath of the Civil War, it looked like a Southern town with its courthouse square and trees planted by the homesick newcomers.

The people were enterprising. When Greeley shunned them as “rebels,” they came down river to carve their own civilization from what Nathan Meeker, founder of Greeley, called “the finest body of wild land to be found anywhere in the world.”

They were practical. After several years, they moved their town three miles, close to where the railroad would run.

They were hardworking. Men, women, and children broke the sod and planted crops. Sometimes, a woman worked the farm while her husband walked miles to a budding town business.

They appreciated spiritual and aesthetic values. Churches sprang up all over town, at first in sod huts. Musicales and plays were produced in the “opera house” atop the courthouse. They painted, wrote, discussed.

Next came Midwesterners and then one ethnic group after another. Each put his customs and distinctive foods in the pot. Each brought people of special interests. The first generations may have dug their way through countless fields. The second dug and studied as well and often attended college.

 By Logan County historian, Nell Brown Propst

Stay Creative Sterling

Art in the Square Out of the Box

chalk art girl with wings

Through the end of May, the Logan County Arts League (LOCAL) is hosting a virtual sidewalk chalk contest, called Art in the Square Out of the Box.

Anyone is invited to creatively chalk their driveway or sidewalk or patio (make sure you add #LOCAL to the design) and submit a photo to LOCAL - Logan County Arts League Facebook page by May 29 to win gift cards to Sterling restaurants participating in carry-out service. Winners will be announced May 31.

chalk art flowers

To create your masterpiece, free sidewalk chalk may be picked up from the Logan County Chamber of Commerce, 109 N. Front St., in Sterling, weekdays, 9 am – 4 pm.

(LOCAL embraces human creativity and imagination in all things, whether it is in music, painting, theater, dance, food, literature, or others.)

Logan County Courthouse Art Gallery

Enjoy this series of virtual field trips, highlighting some of the gems of Sterling and Logan County. We are looking forward to your next visit when it is safe once again to get out and travel!

fort wicked

“Fort Wicked”

This painting depicts the gallant stand against the Cheyenne war parties by Holon Godfrey, his family, and friends. Holon, a brave and adventurous man, believed he could hold out against all odds except fire. I deliberately painted this in a primitive style in order to reveal many objects. It is also a very busy painting in order to help convey excitement and panic. I tried to show worry and anger in the face of Holon, weariness in the face of Matilda, and feat in the face of Cecilia (the girl in the window). By the way, after three days of battle, the Cheyenne finally ceased their attack.

By Artist Eugene Carara

 

Inside the historic Logan County Courthouse in downtown Sterling is the Eugene Carara art collection. These oil paintings were purchased by private citizens and then donated to Logan County to keep the collection together. The paintings are symbolic of historically important events or locations to the people of northeastern Colorado.

 

Fort Wicked – Southwest of present day Merino – January 14, 1865

Just before dawn on a January morning, Holon Godfrey saw something coming fast out of the hills to the southeast. It was what he feared—Indians—at least 130 of them. Bloody January had come to his trading post. And he had only three men to help him defend it.

So began a three-day siege that would earn Godfrey the Indians’ respect and their nickname of “Old Wicked” and that would make his ranch the most famous along the South Platte River. Holon had turned his place into a fortress, but he had another asset: his wife and children. They molded bullets, drew water from the well, and formed a brigade to Holon who, with a bucket in one hand and a fun in the other, put out the fires set by the red men. The girls stuck hats on brooms and hoe handles and poked “heads” here and there over the top of the wall to food the Indians into thinking there were more defenders.

“By God, they got us outnumbered, but we’ll lick ‘em with our brains,” Holon cackled.

He was right. Fort Wicked, as the ranch was always known after the siege, was one of only two places along six hundred miles of the trail that escaped Blood January unscathed.

By Logan County historian, Nell Brown Propst

Logan County Courthouse Art Gallery

Enjoy this series of virtual field trips, highlighting some of the gems of Sterling and Logan County. We are looking forward to your next visit when it is once again safe to get out and travel!

battle of summit springs

“The Battle of Summit Springs”

This painting depicts how one can sacrifice his life to save others. During a storm-threatened afternoon, this young lad stampeded this herd of horses into Chief Tall Bull’s camp in order to warn them of the attacking Pawnee scouts. The young boy was killed, along with many other Cheyenne that day, but because of his heroics, many survived. It is difficult to imagine what went through his mind before making his decision to stampede the herd, but one thing is clear, it was a split-second decision from one so young. Life is so precious, especially young life.

Artist Eugene Carara

 

Inside the historic Logan County Courthouse in downtown Sterling is the Eugene Carara art collection. These oil paintings were purchased by private citizens and then donated to Logan County to keep the collection together. The paintings are symbolic of historically important events or locations to the people of northeastern Colorado.

 

The Battle of Summit Springs - July 11, 1869

On a hot July afternoon in 1869, life on the Colorado plains came to an end for the Indians. Tall Bull, chief of the Dog Soldiers, protectors of the Cheyenne tribe, led several bands of his people, plus Arapahoe and Sioux friends, to camp at Summit Springs. He did not dream that General E.A. Carr and his 5th Calvary were close behind.

General Carr was no Chivington. Afterwards, he wrote, “We have...no pleasure in killing.” But Tall Bull had given him no choice. A few weeks earlier, his force had attacked several communities in western Kansas, killing people and taking captive Susanna Alderdice and Maria Weichel, both pregnant. They had killed three of Susanna’s children and left another for dead. Before July 11 would end, Susanna would also die.

The army was assisted by the Cheyennes’ old enemy, the Pawnees, who thundered across the prairie after women and children, killing many. Others escaped only because the Pawnees took time to scalp and mutilate every victim.

Sand Creek and Summit Springs bore dramatic similarities and contracts. At Sand Creek, an old man folded his arms and bravely awaited death. At Summit Springs, a young boy gave his life to try to save his people. Neither death succeeded except as a source of pride for the Cheyennes.

Sand Creek had launched the war on the South Platte. Summit Sprints brought the end of the Indian life on the Colorado prairie.

Logan County historian Nell Brown Propst

Logan County Courthouse Art Gallery

cattleman northeast colorado

“Cattleman: Northeast Colorado”

"This painting characterizes the early cattle country of northeast Colorado. The beauty of an August evening is created here by revealing the complex skies and a vast pasture land panorama. The majestic Pawnee Buttes are revealed like giant ships sailing across the waves of cool violet canyons in the background. The setting sun softly warns the cattlemen of the end of another northeast Colorado day. However, experience has taught them that these days are drawing to a close and the severe bite of the winter wind is just around the corner." --Artist Eugene Carara

 

Inside the historic Logan County Courthouse in downtown Sterling is the Eugene Carara art collection. These oil paintings were purchased by private citizens and then donated to Logan County to keep the collection together. The paintings are symbolic of historically important events or locations to the people of northeastern Colorado.

 

Cattlemen: Northeast Colorado     1860—1984

The cattlemen found an ideal range in northeast Colorado, “the greatest pasture ever known.” In summer, the grass sometimes grew belly high on the cows. In winter, it cured like hay, and the herds could continue to graze on it.

John Wesley Iliff, the famous Cattle King of Colorado, controlled 150 by 100 miles of prairie land. His herd numbered in the tens of thousands, and he figured his expenses on the prairie at only 6 to 75 cents per head. But when homesteaders put up fences, his cattle could no longer drift south ahead of the blizzards. They piled on the fences and died by the thousands.

Iliff was succeeded by smaller ranch outfits which raised feed for their cattle and gave them winter protection. But during the past century they, too, have suffered the assaults of nature, and they did not long enjoy the free range that made Iliff rich. They have been battered by numerous economic disasters, as well, and today the ranks of those early ranchers are thinning.

Logan County historian Nell Brown Propst

Logan County Courthouse Art Gallery

beware the earthman

“Beware the Earthman”

This painting portrays the early farmers’ futile attempts to raise a crop against all the odds that were against him along the South Platte River. But, beyond that, it also exposes the early confrontation of the Cheyenne Warrior with the peaceful farmer. The warriors were informed many years earlier that they need not fear the mountain-man, the cattleman, or even the soldier. That the man who would eventually take their beloved land from them would be the Earthman—the farmer.

 

Inside the historic Logan County Courthouse in downtown Sterling is the Eugene Carara art. These oil paintings were purchased by private citizens and then donated to Logan County to keep the collection together. The paintings are symbolic of historically important events or locations to the people of northeastern Colorado.

 

Beware the Earthman

The Indian scorned the Earthman (or farmer) because he represented the life of drudgery from which the red man had escaped when he moved onto the “Great Buffalo Pasture” of what was to be eastern Colorado and its endless grasslands.

But he also feared him. The farmer with his devotion to land represented the gravest threat to the red man.

Eventually, differences between the two forces would boil down to a clash over territory.

Long ago, Sweet Medicine, the Cheyenne Indians’ Messiah, had warned: “Some day the Earthmen will come. Do not follow anything they do.”

During the Indians’ final days on the pasture, that warning must have rung through their heads with increasing bitterness.

Sterling Fun Facts

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Did you know?

1.  Sterling was named one of the “25 Best Pheasant Hunting Towns in America” by Pheasants Forever magazine.

2.  There are 60 acres of parks in the city with walking and biking paths and trails.

3.  Sterling is called the “City of Living Trees” for its many tree sculptures by artist, Bradford Rhea.

4.  Logan County celebrates one of the most heavily traveled routes across the high plains in the 1800s at the Overland Trail Museum which records the greatest migration of people our country has ever experienced!

5.  There are 45 holes of golf in the Sterling area, plus one disc golf course.

6.  Sterling is the gateway to the Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic & Historic Byway at the east edge of the Pawnee National Grasslands.

7.  The reservoir at North Sterling State Park has 3,000 acres of surface area for an array of boating and fishing activities and 141 campsites!

8.  The company Wisdom Rides in nearby Merino is one of the nation’s leading makers of carnival rides.

9.  There are 20 artistic murals scattered around Sterling.

10. Logan County’s Shooting Sports Complex is one of the few facilities to have a 1,000-yard range.

We look forward to welcoming you to Sterling when it is safe to travel once again. In the meantime, learn more about Sterling, Logan County and the northeast corner of Colorado here >>>  Venture to Northeast Colorado

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