The history of Weld County, which was established in 1861 when Colorado was still a territory, is literally rooted in the land.
Weld County ranks number one in the state, and number nine in the country, in the value of agricultural products sold — almost $1.8 billion annually.
So how is this possible in a region that in 1821, Major Stephen H. Long said would "never be fit for human habitation and should remain forever the unmolested haunt of the native hunter, bison and jackal"? The answer is irrigation.
The Section No. 3 Ditch Company, which was incorporated in 1870, is said to have been “the first ditch in the United States built specifically to grow food.”
In 1835, a government expedition came through the general area; the next year a member of that party, Lt. Lancaster Lupton, returned to establish a trading post located just north of the present town of Fort Lupton.
In about 1837, Colonel Ceran St. Vrain established Fort St. Vrain; Fort Vasquez was built south of Platteville in about 1840. The latter was rebuilt in the 1930s under the Federal Works Progress Administration.
The U.S. Congress took parts of the Territories of Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico and Utah to create the Territory of Colorado in 1861. All parts of Colorado lying east of Larimer County and north of the present Adams County were in the original Weld County, one of 17 counties established by the first territorial legislature in September, 1861. Weld County was named for Lewis Ledyard Weld, the first territorial secretary; St. Vrain became the first county seat.
During the first 16 years of Weld county’s history, the county seat was moved from St. Vrain to Latham (three miles east of present Greeley) to Evans, to Greeley, to Evans again, and finally in 1877, returned to Greeley.
A large segment of the Weld County region was settled by people of German descent who migrated from Russia in the early 1900s. Originally they came as railroad workers, but many soon worked in the productive beet fields and eventually became prosperous land owners. Weld County’s Spanish-surname population began to arrive during the mid 1920s as laborers for the sugar beet industry.
Weld County’s sugar beet industry began with the building of sugar factories in Greeley and Eaton in 1902. In 1903, another was built in Windsor, followed in 1920 by one at Fort Lupton and another at Johnstown in 1926.
For more information on Weld County’s history, click here.