The History of Grand Junction
Early Grand Junction History
The history of Grand Junction, the most populous city of the Western Slope of Colorado, spans centuries. Back in the 15th century, the area was populated by the Ute Indian tribe, who were the dominant group until 1880s. In September 1881, the Utes were forced to leave the area to a reservation in Utah.
A new chapter in Grand Junction’s history began on September 26, 1881, when the city was officially established. It was George W. Crawford who was the father of the new city: under his supervision initial developments in Grand Junction were made and the first vineyard in Colorado was built.
Grand Junction saw quick development, with merchants, farmers, hunters, and ranchers coming to the town in search of a better life. Within just two years, a church, a newspaper, a store, and several other public buildings appeared in Grand Junction. In the 1890s, the main sectors of Grand Junction’s economy were agriculture, transportation, and commerce. These three industries still remain the driving forces of the city’s economy.
In 1918 a huge irrigation system was constructed in the area, which assisted in cultivation of about 50,000 acres of land. This innovative project helped Grand Junction become a producer of high quality fruits (especially peaches).
Grand Junction after World War II
Following World War II, Grand Junction developed as a headquarters for the production of uranium. By 1954, the city had 15 uranium companies, as well as a variety of mining companies. However, by 1970 the uranium industry became unviable as the price of uranium decreased significantly.
In the years that followed, the city’s infrastructure developed rapidly, with new residents from other U.S. states relocating to Grand Junction. Since 1950s, Colorado Mesa University and St. Mary’s Hospital have been major employers in education and healthcare, drawing people from other U.S. regions to Grand Junction. As Colorado Mesa University evolved into one of the top educational institutions in Western Colorado, tourism developed into one of the city’s profitable industries.
Today Grand Junction is a popular tourist destination in Colorado, thanks to its natural and scenic areas. One of the sunniest cities, Grand Junction is home to various recreational facilities, including hiking trails at the Colorado National Monument, the picturesque Grand Mesa, local wineries, and Uncompahgre national forests.