Major Stephen H. Long made an expedition to the area now known as Weld County in 1821. He reportedly said “the region would never be fit for human habitation and should remain forever the unmolested haunt of the native hunter, bison, and jackal.” Later military and trading expeditions apparently disagreed.
The agricultural editor for the New York Tribune, Nathan C. Meeker, dreamed of a Utopian community on the plains northeast of Denver. He spearheaded a drive to form a colony based on cooperation, irrigation, temperance, religion, and education. His efforts were supported by his editor, Horace Greeley, who wrote the famous phrase, “Go West, young man, go West.” In 1868, Meeker founded the Union Colony, located where the rail line from Denver to Cheyenne crossed the Platte and the Poudre Rivers. Today, one can still visit the adobe home of Nathan Meeker, now surrounded by Greeley’s bustling downtown area.
By the time Horace Greeley paid his first and only visit to Greeley in 1869, the townsfolk had built homes, established a newspaper, built irrigation canals, and designed streets 100 feet wide and lined with trees. Few people know that Greeley was one of the first planned communities in the United States. Centennial Village, a bi-centennial project dedicated in 1976, features 30 original structures depicting life in Greeley from 1860-1920.
Another visionary worthy of note was W.D. Farr, whose grandfather settled in Greeley in 1877. A leading citizen in our community, Farr’s greatest gift to Weld County was his vision for water resources necessary for a growing community. He and other leaders dreamed of tapping high mountain reservoirs as a source of water for irrigation and development. Farr and his associates were true pioneers, giving Greeley the abundant water resources it enjoys today. Their major accomplishment was the construction of a tunnel through the mountains to bring the water down to the plains of Greeley.
Greeley Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked 14th on Milken 2014 Best Performing Cities Report Incorporated: 1886 2015 Population: 101,000 Square Miles: 46.66 Population Trend: 2000-2014 Increase: 30% Median Age: 29.8
Average temperatures (January) High 40F/Low 16F Average temperatures (July) High 89F/ Low 59F Annual days of sunshine: More than 300 Annual precipitation: 13.74″ Annual snowfall: 33.7″
Weld County (Greeley MSA)
Square Miles: 3,999 Communities: 31 Population: 263,691 Labor Force: 124,972 Unemployment: 3.9% (as of November 2014) Median Age: 32.7 Median Family Income: $54,198 Median Home Price: $185,000 Primary Industry Sectors: Manufacturing, Agriculture, Energy Production, Health & Wellness and Business Services GRP: $8 Billion +