Colorado History and Genealogy Project





Arapahoe County Colorado ~  1870

The first political division of that portion of the State of Kansas, now in Colorado, which embraced the Pike's Peak gold region, was organized by the emigrants in and about Auraria, in the fall of 1858, and included all the region inhabited or explored at that time. Auraria was its principal town and county seat, and was the arena in which the political gladiators of those early days displayed their great prowess and endurance. The area then embraced by Arapahoe was much larger than that defined by the present boundaries, which were established by Government surveys, completed in 1861. These include a strip about 175 miles in length, east and west, and thirty miles in width, north and south; commencing at the eastern boundaries of Jefferson and Boulder counties, and extending to the Kansas line, east and at the northern boundary of Douglas county, and extending to the southern limits of Weld county, north and south. This belt lies entirely in the plains, or valley division of Colorado, and presents all the features peculiar to this district. It is watered by the Platte and many of its branches, principal among them, the Clear, Cherry, Kiowa, Bijou and Beaver creeks, also, by the Republican Fork of the Kansas.

Although gold was first discovered, in paying quantities, within the present limits of Arapahoe County, the amount was trifling, and mining has never been a leading industry. No mineral deposits of commercial value, except coal measures, have been discovered; and these have not been sufficiently developed to establish their value or importance, though, no doubt, extensive lignite beds underlie the whole extent of the county. Fossils and minerals, interesting to the student of geology, exist, however, in considerable quantities along the beds of water-courses and on the ridges, which receive notice in the appropriate chapter.

With the exception of scattering cotton-wood forests, along the Platte and its tributaries, there is no timber in the county; but the usual vegetation of the plains is abundant everywhere, and the soil is very fertile and productive. This makes agriculture the leading industry of Arapahoe, outside of her principal cities, and has already grown to be of vast importance, and is attracting the attention of emigrants from all countries.

Although the great portion of the soil of Arapahoe County, as well as that of other parts of the plains, requires irrigation, means of affording this are ample, and many thousands of acres of wheat, corn, and vegetables are already cultivated, annually, yielding large and profitable returns. Statistics illustrating this will appear in the chapter on agriculture, and should be carefully examined by those seeking profitable agricultural investments.

Denver, the principal city and capital of Colorado, the Queen City of the Plains, is the county seat of Arapahoe County, and is located on the Platte River and Cherry creek, at their confluence, in the western central portion of the county. This is the mercantile and manufacturing centre of Colorado, as well as the most important city west of the Missouri river and east of the mountains, and has already a population of over 8,000 inhabitants, noted for their prosperity, thrift, and enterprise. They have already projected manufacturing enterprises which will, eventually, contribute largely to the general wealth of the country, and established commercial relations with the larger cities, east and west, of unusual importance, considering the age and location of the city. These, with all the resources, advantages, public buildings, institutions of learning, religion, etc., will receive full and detailed descriptions in our history of Denver, in which will also appear all statistical matter and gazetteer information concerning Arapahoe County. The history of Arapahoe County and of Denver are so intimately connected, we give them in detail in the same chapter.

There are no towns or cities of any importance in Arapahoe, besides Denver; but comfortable farm houses are abundant throughout the cultivated regions, and good wagon roads traverse every section. Besides these, the iron tracks of the Denver and Kansas Pacific railways traverse a considerable portion of the county, and pass through thousands of acres of excellent farm lands, still awaiting the plow of the agriculturist, and ready to yield abundant wealth to all who may take advantage of their unusual fertility. Arapahoe County wants, and offers peculiar advantages to, industrious farmers, and can safely insure such comfort and competency.


Rocky Mountain Directory & Colorado Gazetteer

Source: Rocky Mountain Directory and Colorado Gazetteer, 1871, S. S. Wallihan & Company, Compilers and Publishers, Denver, 1870.


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