‹‹ Colorado Postcards

John and Elizabeth Iliff

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Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Cattle on a ranch near Keota and the Pawneee Grasslands on Colorado’s Eastern Plains.
John and Elizabeth Iliff

In the mid 1800s, Colorado’s growing population was hungry. Meat-eaters typically ate animals that came up from Texas on hoof, somewhat worse for the wear. John Iliff’s million-dollar idea was to buy exhausted cattle, then fatten them up on his ranch in northeast Colorado. Mining towns, railroad workers and the government all bought Iliff's beef – a lot of it – and made him a very rich man. 

When John Iliff died, his wife Elizabeth took on the business, then sold it and became one of the wealthiest women in Colorado. Years later she remarried. And as the new wife of a Methodist Bishop, she thought that Colorado’s growing population was still hungry – in their souls. She donated a healthy sum to fund a seminary, The Iliff School of Theology, named after her first husband, the one many folks still call the Cattle King of Colorado.

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.