Colorado History and Genealogy Project





Jefferson County Colorado ~  1870

The western half of this county lies in the foot-hills, and the eastern half on the plains. It is bounded on the north by Boulder and Weld counties; on the east by Arapahoe and Douglas counties; on the south by Douglas, and on the west by Clear Creek and Gilpin counties.

Its western limits do not extend far enough up the foot-hills to reach the belt of gold lodes that traverse these mountains, but include a series of copper and iron veins, which contain ores of these metals in great quantities. Along the base of the foot-hills, in the upturned tertiary strata, nearly the entire length of the county, coal measures of great extent have already been discovered and extensively worked; and fire-clay, gypsum and potter's clay also abound in unlimited quantities.

The agricultural advantages of this county are unsurpassed by any other in Colorado. In the mountain portion, the valleys of streams (tributaries of the Platte) widen out as they approach the plains, and form quite extensive ranches, or farms, which are actively cultivated, with large and profitable returns. These yield oats, hay and vegetables, and when the plains are reached, besides these, wheat, corn, and barley, with great profusion. On the "plains" portion of the county, agriculture is aided by irrigation, and ample facilities for this are in the reach of all, as canals traverse the entire county, affording an abundant and unfailing supply of water at all seasons. Jefferson County has but little waste land. The soil, not only of the plains and valleys, but of the mountain slopes, is unusually productive, and the climate favorable, even at the greatest elevations in the mountains. With these advantages, the agricultural resources of the county are important, and will afford the means of support, and the opportunities for the accumulation of wealth, to a large population; but from the greater facilities afforded for manufacturing enterprises, these will, without doubt, eventually form the principal feature of the county's industries. The principal inducements for the investment of capital in manufactories are the abundance of cheap fuel, supplied by the immense coal deposits; the inexhaustible supplies of excellent building material; the existence of superior water-powers and mill sites, and the proximity of large deposits of minerals, including copper and iron in the county, and gold and silver in the adjoining counties of Boulder and Gilpin. These advantages have already been improved to a considerable extent, and the manufacturing enterprises of the county have assumed proportions that place Jefferson county ahead of all other counties of Colorado in such industries These embrace the manufacture of fire-brick, for furnaces; ordinary brick, for building purposes; coarse earthen or pottery ware, and paper. Besides the factories engaged in the manufacture of these indispensable articles, there are breweries, a distillery, planing mills, saw-mills, a mill for grinding gypsum, and several extensive flouring mills. The fuel, water-power, crude material, and material for the construction of factories, used in all these, except that for paper, are among the products and resources of the county, and exist in unlimited supplies. Coal for fuel, superior in quality, and at cheap rates; fire, potter's, and ordinary clay, and gypsum at the base of the foot-hills; lumber in the pine forest on the mountains; cereals on the plains and valleys, and water-power from Clear creek and its tributaries, which traverse the entire county from east to west. That these superior advantages will induce the further investment of capital in manufacturing enterprises is unquestionable; and no doubt, in addition to present industries, there will soon be constructed extensive reduction works, for the treatment of the ores of the gold and silver belts of adjacent counties. The facilities afforded for such works are unsurpassed, and should be taken advantage of at once. Besides the superior wagon roads, peculiar to every district of Colorado already inhabited, Jefferson is traversed by a railway, the Colorado Central, which affords the medium of cheap and ample transportation for her products to all markets, and places her in direct communication with all commercial centers.

The principal city, and county seat of Jefferson, is Golden City, located in the valley of Clear creek, near the base of the foot-hills, in the northern central portion of the county, about fifteen miles from Denver. This was first settled early in 1859, by gulch miners, and soon became prosperous and populous, and has remained so. It is not only the chief city of the county, but the home of her principal manufacturing, mining, and mercantile enterprises, and educational and religious institutions. It is surrounded, traversed and mined by coal measures, beds of fire and potter's clay, and ledges of gypsum, and watered by Clear creek, which affords numerous superior water powers and mill privileges, and is in the immediate vicinity of pine forests and cultivated lands. A detailed history of Golden and her advantages appears in an appropriate chapter.

The only other town of importance in Jefferson county is Mount Vernon, a beautiful little village, nestled among the foot-hills, about eighteen miles from Denver, on the main wagon road from that city to Idaho Springs. It is surrounded by quarries of limestone, which makes excellent building material, and pine forests, affording good lumber in unlimited quantities. The principal streams of Jefferson County are Clear creek and its tributaries and branches of the Platte, Deer, Turkey, Bear and Coal creeks, also the North Fork of the South Platte, which flows through the southern division of the county. They all have an easterly direction, and flow from the foot-hills, across the county, to its eastern limits, and are skirted by (bottom lands, eminently fertile and actively cultivated.

The altitude of the county varies from 4,800 to 8,000 feet above the sea level, and the climate is that peculiar to the region, healthy, invigorating, and free from all kinds of malarious or pulmonic diseases. Extremes in temperature are unknown, and great falls of snow never take place. Stock fatten at all seasons, without shelter, and without food save the grasses, which are abundant and possess all the nutritious and perennial qualities peculiar to those of Colorado.

Jefferson has already a population which numbers among the thousands; but still has ample room, and offers superior inducements to tens of thousands of industrious miners, mechanics and ranch-men.

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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