Like many communities in eastern Colorado, Holly was founded after the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad began laying tracks across western Kansas and into Colorado in 1873. However, it wasn’t until 1881 that the Holly Station first appeared in the railroad employees’ timetables.
Hiram S. Holly’s ranch lay just south of the Holly Station, and it blossomed into a community with services and shopping soon after the Holly Station was established.
Despite harsh blizzards that hit eastern Colorado and wiped out many cattlemen from 1885 to 1887, Holly persevered, and his ranch turned into a town after 1891.
As Holly grew, it attracted settlers drawn to the open grassland, abundant game, business opportunities, and land for homesteading. In 1897, the Holly Station became the Holly Depot, a wood framed building signifying the town’s progress, and in 1903, the town of Holly was incorporated.
The sugar beet industry began in 1906 with Articles of Incorporation drawn up for the Holly Sugar Company. The first factory building was constructed on the west end of Holly, and it processed the 1905 crop of sugar beets. It was the start of a boom period for Holly.
The period of significance arbitrarily ended in 1945 to comply with the National Register’s fifty-year rule. The depot continued to be an important element in Holly’s history until 1950, when rail traffic began to decline. The depot stopped operating as a passenger stop in 1972, and freight services ceased in 1983.
Holly also provides good habitats for birds. Gateway Park, on the north side of Highway 50 has many mature deciduous shade trees that can attract migrating warblers and other land birds. The Holly cemetery northeast of town can also be good for migrants, and sometimes Great Horned Owls can be seen. Three miles east of town is a little rest area along the highway that has a nice combination of trees and brush, where any kind of bird could show up.