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.
Rio Grande County, located in Colorado, has a rich and diverse history that dates back centuries. The region was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Ute and Apache, who were hunter-gatherers and utilized the fertile land for cultivation. The Spanish explorers arrived in the area in the 16th century, followed by French fur trappers in the 18th century, establishing trade relations with the local Native American populations.

In the mid-19th century, the Rio Grande County area experienced an influx of miners during the Colorado Gold Rush. The discovery of gold and silver in the San Juan Mountains attracted miners from all over the country, leading to the establishment of several mining towns, including Del Norte, which would eventually become the county seat. The mining industry brought prosperity to the region, attracting settlers and establishing the foundation for future growth.

In 1874, Rio Grande County was officially established, with Del Norte serving as its county seat. The county was named after the Rio Grande River, which flows through the region, providing essential water resources for agriculture, ranching, and other industries. The county played a significant role in the development of Colorado's agricultural industry, with the establishment of large-scale ranches and the cultivation of crops such as potatoes and barley.

Throughout the 20th century, Rio Grande County experienced both periods of growth and challenges. The decline of the mining industry and the Great Depression had a significant impact on the local economy. However, the county adapted and diversified its industries, focusing on agriculture and tourism. Today, Rio Grande County is known for its scenic beauty, outdoor recreational activities, and rich cultural heritage, attracting visitors from around the world.

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

  • 1874 - Rio Grande County is established as one of the original counties of the Colorado Territory.
  • 1890 - Agriculture, specifically potato farming, becomes a major industry in the county.
  • 1921 - The City of Del Norte is officially incorporated.
  • 1920s-1930s - The Great Depression brings difficult economic times to Rio Grande County.
  • 1960s-1970s - Tourism and outdoor recreational activities, such as hunting and fishing, become increasingly popular.
  • 1980s - The county sees a decline in mining and a shift towards a more diversified economy.
  • 1990s - Environmental conservation efforts and preservation of natural resources gain attention in the county.
  • 2010 - The county celebrates its 140th anniversary since its establishment.