Colorado was originally part of the Kansas and Nebraska territories, but was separated and made into its own territory in 1861. It became a state in 1876, 100 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Gunnison County, located in Colorado, has a rich and fascinating history dating back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, such as the Ute and Apache, who lived off the land and utilized the area's abundant natural resources. European exploration of the region began in the 1700s, with Spanish fur trappers and explorers venturing into the area.

In the mid-1800s, the Gunnison Valley experienced an influx of miners during the Colorado Gold Rush. Prospectors flocked to the region in search of riches, leading to the establishment of several mining towns, including Irwin, Gothic, and Crested Butte. The mining towns thrived for a period but eventually declined due to the depletion of valuable minerals and economic challenges.

The arrival of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in the late 1800s brought significant growth to Gunnison County. The railroad connection brought new settlers, businesses, and opportunities for trade and transportation. Gunnison, the county seat, became a commercial hub and played a central role in the county's development.

In the 20th century, Gunnison County saw a shift towards agriculture and tourism as the mining industry waned. The county's fertile land and water resources made it ideal for ranching and farming. Additionally, the region's stunning natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities attracted visitors, leading to the growth of the tourism industry, particularly in areas like Crested Butte, known as the "Wildflower Capital of Colorado."

Today, Gunnison County continues to embrace its natural beauty and rich history. The county is home to a thriving outdoor recreation industry, including skiing, hiking, and fishing, as well as a vibrant arts and culture scene. With its blend of heritage, stunning landscapes, and friendly communities, Gunnison County remains a beloved destination for residents and visitors alike.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Gunnison County, Colorado.

  • 1819 - Expedition led by Captain John W. Gunnison explores the area
  • 1840s - Early fur trappers and traders arrive in the region
  • 1851 - Ute Indians sign the Treaty of Fort Massachusetts, ceding land to the United States
  • 1852 - Gold discovered in the region, leading to a population influx
  • 1877 - Gunnison County is officially established, named after Captain John W. Gunnison
  • 1880s - Mining industry booms in the county
  • 1881 - Railroad reaches the town of Gunnison, improving transportation
  • 1884 - Crested Butte is founded as a coal mining town
  • 1890s - The silver boom leads to prosperity and growth in the county
  • 1920s - Ranching becomes a dominant industry in Gunnison County
  • 1960 - The first ski area, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, opens in the county
  • 1970s - Tourism becomes an important economic driver for the county
  • 2001 - Gunnison County experiences a surge in population