Grand Junction Colorado begins like any other town in a new frontier. Settlers heading west to find their fortune.
The San Juan Mountains in the western part of Colorado held a rich and promising future for those who were brave enough to continue their trek over the dangerous and unknown area.
This part of the western slope was not open to settlement until after 1880 when vast mineral deposits were found in the mountains.
Before this discovery, the western slope was home to Native Americans removed from the eastern part of the state to allow for continued gold prospecting and settlers.
In 1863, the Ute Indians ceded the San Luis Valley to the growing white population and were moved to the western slope.
Within a few years, people wanted more land. Treaties were broken, new reservations were completed for the Native Americans.
More miners were moving west with the discovery of gold and silver in the San Juan Mountains. By the 1870's mining camps were everywhere.
The Native Americans were moved again and again. In 1881, the last of the Ute Indians passed through the junction of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers on the western slope to their reservation on the Uncompahgre River.
In June of 1882, Congress opened the Ute lands to the public, but long before that, settlers and miners had staked their claim to the land.
The best site for a white settlement was at the junction of the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers. The valley was protected, had water for irrigation purposes for farmers and miners and turned out to be one of the best locations on the western slope.
George A. Crawford, with a group of men from the town of Gunnison, platted and established a town in this lush valley.
They first named the town Ute, then changed it to West Denver. After the town was incorporated, the name changed again to Grand Junction.
As with most newly formed towns in the west, there wasn't much to it in the beginning, the usual general store and the all important saloon.
In 1882, the narrow gauge railroad, the Denver and Rio Grande, finished laying tracks from Gunnison to the new town at the border of the state.
1883 found Mesa County established out of the large Gunnison County in the west and the town of Grand Junction became the county seat.
With a new county and town established, commerce started to grow rapidly. The Denver and Rio Grande railroad ran a standard gauge line in the town in 1887.
Grand Junction is a lush and beautiful area on the western slope of Colorado. Peaceful, historic and the leader of its time, a visit here is well worth the trip.