OF JEFFERSON COUNTY::
took the name of the third U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, master
statesman, architect and writer.
The need for
an organized local government began in the late 1850s when droves
of gold-seeking settlers came West. In 1858, when gold was discovered
in the Rocky Mountains, there were fewer than 200 settlers in the
area. An influx of nearly 35,000 people arrived two years later,
lured by the glitter of gold. The county was formally organized
in 1861 by the Colorado Territorial Legislature.
The history of Jefferson County is rich in Western lore. The county
was home to the original capital of the Colorado Territory and boasted
gold diggers, cowboys and villains among its residents.
The Pikes Peak
Gold Rush of the late 1850s brought the first flock of settlers
to the county. Reports of gold in the streams
along the Front Range enticed prospectors to the area, and soon
after coal was discovered near Coal Creek. By 1859, enough people
lived in the area to merit the establishment of Golden City as well
as other long-vanished towns, such as Arapahoe City and Golden Gate
In 1861, President
James Buchanan signed a bill creating the Territory of Colorado.
The territory had 17 counties, including Jefferson County, and Golden
City was the capital.
In the next
20 years, the county became home to the first railroad in Colorado
as well as to Coors Brewing Co. and the Colorado School of Mines.
Traces of the Wild West lingered, however. After being released
from jail, alleged cannibal Alferd Packer settled in a cave here,
and legendary Western showman Buffalo Bill made the county his final