The first documented discovery of gold in Colorado was in 1858, when a group of prospectors found gold near present-day Denver. This discovery led to the Pike's Peak Gold Rush and a population boom in the area.
Garfield County is located in the western part of the state of Colorado and has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was initially inhabited by various Native American tribes, such as the Ute and the Comanche, who roamed the land and relied on its abundant natural resources for their sustenance. The arrival of European settlers in the 19th century brought significant changes to the region.

In 1853, the first white settlement was established in what is now Garfield County. This settlement was known as Defiance and served as a supply point for miners seeking their fortunes during the Colorado Gold Rush. The discovery of gold and silver in the nearby mountains attracted a wave of prospectors, leading to the establishment of several mining camps and towns, including Glenwood Springs and Rifle. These mining operations played a crucial role in the development of Garfield County, with the mining industry serving as the backbone of the local economy for many years.

The late 19th century saw the expansion of railroads across the region, facilitating transportation and trade in Garfield County. It also brought an influx of new settlers and opportunities for economic growth. Agriculture began to thrive, with ranching and farming becoming important industries in the area. The establishment of irrigation systems allowed for the cultivation of crops, including fruit orchards and livestock grazing.

In the 20th century, Garfield County experienced significant shifts in its economy. The decline of mining and the rise of the oil and gas industry had a profound impact on the region. The discovery of natural gas reserves led to increased exploration and extraction activities, resulting in a boom in the local economy. Today, Garfield County continues to be an important player in the state's energy sector and has diversified its economy with tourism, outdoor recreations, and services industries playing an increasingly significant role.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Garfield County, Colorado.

  • 1883 - Garfield County is established on February 10.
  • 1886 - The county seat is relocated from New Castle to Glenwood Springs.
  • 1906 - Oil and gas production begins in the county.
  • 1943 - Japanese American internment camp, named Camp Amache, is established in the county.
  • 1960s - The construction of Interstate 70 through the county begins.
  • 1970 - The first oil shale boom occurs, bringing economic growth and population increase.
  • 1982 - Oil shale industry declines, leading to a severe economic downturn in the county.
  • 1991 - The Glenwood Canyon section of Interstate 70 is completed.
  • 2002 - The Coal Seam Fire causes significant damage, destruction, and evacuations in the county.
  • 2020 - Garfield County celebrates its 137th anniversary.