Colorado State Highway 71 skirts along the western edge of Lincoln county. Towards the southern end of the county it crosses a couple of little known early pioneer roads, the Goodnight Cattle Trail and the Southern Overland Mail and Express route.
The cattle trail followed Horse Creek on its northwest route towards the gold fields of the Rocky Mountains. The mail and express company used the road from a military post at Kit Carson to Fort Reynolds near Pueblo. These two roads cross the southern edge of Lincoln County where SH 71 has a road correction dog leg at the south end.
Unless one has a good map the Southern Overland Mail and Express stage route, it is difficult to trace. It enters the southeastern edge of Lincoln County and wanders across the southern edge of the county to almost SH 71. There are no county roads to follow it and it follows no water courses. It crosses Rush Creek on the eastern edge of the county, then across Adobe Creek in the south central part of the county and exits the county just before it crosses Horse Creek. On the US Geological Survey map, there are no stage stations marked and the map just shows a road crossing the southern edge of Lincoln County.
The Goodnight Cattle Trail is easier to follow because if follows Horse Creek. Entering from the south, Horse Creek parallels SH 71 for a distance. Just before the mesa, Horse Creek turns west Climbing up the hill. It soon turns into a small stream with groves of trees lining the stream bed. It Crosses SH 94 west of Punkin Center. In the spring the prairie is ablaze with the red and yellow blooms of the cacti. It is a small valley the creek has curved out with cool and inviting shade from the trees in the summer heat.
The Goodnight Cattle Trail is sprinkled with numerous communities and Post Offices as it climbs up Horse Creek. Many an enterprising entrepreneur would set up a tent, trading post, or saloon along the trail. Here, miscellaneous supplies could be acquired by the drovers as they pushed their cattle west. Many of these communities were ranch houses where the mail could be picked up or sent.
There are not many roads in the area to follow the trail as it marches on to the gold fields. Yet it is an inviting stream on the vast plains. There are a few ranches in the area and a variety of communities are nearby. With a good map, one can meander the country roads and cross Horse Creek and follow it for a bit then wind on to another road to cross back to Horse Creek again. No longer do the massive herds trot across the prairie. Today it is pastoral ranchland dotted with grazing cattle and picturesque ranch homes nestled in the trees of a rolling land.