Kit Carson, namesake of the famous western scout, guide and trapper was founded on the Eastern Plains in 1838. In 1872 Kit Carson developed into a booming commercial center. The ideal location of Kit Carson encouraged the development of trade and supply outposts, providing the opportunity for stage companies and trading outfits to prosper. The town of Kit Carson had two locations. The original site was located near the site where Kit Carson traded with the Arapahoe and Cheyenne Native Americans. The present site was determined by the arrival of the railroad. Destroyed by fire three times, twice by the torches of Native Americans and once by carousing cowboys, the determined citizens of the town showed their desire to survive by rebuilding. Kit Carson was the railroad terminus for the Union Pacific, and because of this fact, many opportunities became available to the future citizens of the town. The building of the railroad encouraged farmers and ranchers to settle in the area. The railroad made Kit Carson an important shipping point for cattle in the 1870’s because of the connecting route to LaJunta. In fact Kit Carson became one of the largest cattle shipping points between Denver and Kansas City. The railroad brought in foreign dignitaries, such as the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia. The Grand Duke hunted in Kit Carson and was accompanied by his military escort, General George Armstrong Custer on January 20, 1872. Later Kit Carson was visited by Teddy Roosevelt as well. Kit Carson covers an area of 1030 square miles served by dry land farms and cattle ranches. Today, the oil industry is an important contribution to the town’s economy. Besides the oil companies, other businesses such as Colorado Interstate Gas Plant and about 14 local businesses serve the community’s needs, as well as the travelers and truckers on the highways. History books about Kit Carson and western Cheyenne County can be obtained for $12.00 at the Museum or the Kit Carson State Bank if you would like to know more about the town.
On May 14,1870, 46 men working on the railroad were killed by Native Americans. May 17, 1870, a railroad water tank east of Kit Carson was torn down by Native Americans. Three companies of U.S. Calvary were stationed at Kit Carson and more sent to be placed under the command of General Custer. Grand Duke Alexis of Russia hunted buffalo in Kit Carson on January 20, 1872. He was the first in the party to kill a buffalo and in his excitement hugged and kissed General Custer, his escort. The regular army stationed 100 men in Kit Carson permanently on March 19, 1872. In 1870, Kit Carson was a boisterous town of saloons, gambling and dance halls. Almost every grown man had two six-shooters hanging from his belt. The town was an important shipping point for cattle in the early 1870’s.
A friendly western spirit still greets the traveler in this area steeped with Native American lore and soaked with pioneer history.