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Weld County is a county located in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 252,825. The county seat is Greeley. Weld County comprises the Greeley, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the DenverAurora, CO Combined Statistical Area.

History

On May 30, 1854, the Kansas–Nebraska Act created the Nebraska Territory and the Kansas Territory, divided by the Parallel 40° North (Baseline Road or County Line Road or Weld County Road 2 in the future Weld County). Present-day Weld County, Colorado, lay in the southwestern portion of the Nebraska Territory, bordering the Kansas Territory. In July 1858, gold was discovered along the South Platte River in Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory. This discovery precipitated the Pike's Peak Gold Rush. Many residents of the mining region felt disconnected from the remote territorial governments of Kansas and Nebraska, so they voted to form their own Territory of Jefferson on October 24, 1859. The following month, the Jefferson Territorial Legislature organized 12 counties for the new territory, including St. Vrain County. St. Vrain County was named in honor of Ceran de Hault de Lassus de St. Vrain, the French trader who established the first trading post on the upper South Platte River. St. Vrain County encompassed much of what is today Weld County. The Jefferson Territory never received federal sanction, but on February 28, 1861, U.S. President James Buchanan signed an act organizing the Territory of Colorado. On November 1, 1861, the Colorado General Assembly organized 17 counties, including Weld County, for the new Colorado Territory. Weld County was named for Lewis Ledyard Weld, a lawyer and territorial secretary. He died while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Until February 9, 1887, Weld County's boundaries included the area now comprising Weld County, Washington County, Logan County, Morgan County, Yuma County, Phillips County, and Sedgwick County. Weld County was thrust into the media spotlight on the evening of November 1, 1955, when United Airlines Flight 629, a Douglas DC-6B airliner flying from Denver to Portland, Oregon, exploded in midair and crashed, killing all 44 persons on board the plane and scattering bodies, wreckage and debris over a six-square-mile area of the county. The subsequent investigation of the accident revealed that Denver resident John Gilbert Graham had secretly placed a time bomb composed of 25 sticks of dynamite in a suitcase belonging to his mother, who was a passenger on the airplane. Graham was tried and convicted of the crime, and executed in 1957. In northeastern Weld County, Minuteman III missile silo "N-8", one of the many unmanned silos there, was the target of symbolic vandalism by Catholic peace activists in 2002. Weld County also holds the distinction of having more confirmed tornado sightings than any other U.S. county from 1950 to 2011, with 252 confirmed reports. On March 6, 2019, the county declared itself to be a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Secession proposals

In 2013, conservative Weld County commissioners began a campaign to secede from the State of Colorado to create a new state; a state ballot measure regarding the issue was put on the November 2013 ballot. The legality of this initiative has been questioned by local attorneys. On Nov 5th, 2013, 6 out of 11 Colorado counties voted no for secession, including Weld County. Elbert, Lincoln, Logan, Moffat, Sedgwick, and Weld counties voted no, while Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Phillips, Washington, and Yuma counties voted yes. "Weld County voters said this is an option we shouldn't pursue and we won't pursue it," said Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, "But we will continue to look at the problems of the urban and rural divide in this state." In 2021, a group known a
Weld County, WY
organized a petition to place a measure on the November 2021 ballot for the county to secede from Colorado to join Wyoming, due to a clash between the conservative politics of Weld County and the liberal government of Colorado. Mark Gordon, the Governor of Wyoming, said when asked about the topic, "We would love that." In response to Gordon's comment, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said, "Hands off Weld County."

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of , of which are land and (0.7%) are water. It is the third-largest county in Colorado by area. Weld County lies within the relatively flat eastern portion of Colorado; the northeastern portions of the county contain the extensive Pawnee National Grassland and the Pawnee Buttes, which jut above the surrounding terrain and are surrounded by many small canyons and outcroppings. Along the western border, hilly areas indicate the presence of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains further west. The county is served by two interstate highways: I-25 (US 87) runs through the southwestern corner and I-76 from the south central edge northeastward to the Morgan county border. Other major roads include US 85 and US 34, which intersect near Greeley, and State Highway 14, which runs through Ault.

Adjacent counties

* Kimball County, Nebraska - northeast * Logan County - east * Morgan County - east * Adams County - south * City and County of Broomfield - southwest * Boulder County - west * Larimer County - west * Laramie County, Wyoming - northwest

Major Highways

* Interstate 25 * Interstate 76 * * U.S. Highway 6 * U.S. Highway 34 * U.S. Highway 85 * U.S. Highway 87 * State Highway 14 * State Highway 37 * State Highway 52 * State Highway 56 * State Highway 60 * State Highway 71 * State Highway 79 * State Highway 257 * State Highway 263 * State Highway 392 * State Highway 402

National protected area

* Pawnee National Grassland

State protected area

* Fort Vasquez State History Museum * St. Vrain State Park

Trails and byways

* American Discovery Trail * Pawnee Pioneer Trails * Poudre River National Recreation Trail * South Platte Trail

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 180,936 people, 63,247 households, and 45,221 families residing in the county. The population density was 45 people per square mile (18/km2). There were 66,194 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 81.71% White, 0.56% Black or African American, 0.87% Native American, 0.83% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 13.29% from other races, and 2.65% from two or more races. 27.05% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. There were 63,247 households, out of which 37.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.60% were married couples living together, 9.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.50% were non-families. 21.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.25. In the county, the population was spread out, with 28.20% under the age of 18, 13.20% from 18 to 24, 29.70% from 25 to 44, 20.00% from 45 to 64, and 9.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 100.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.00 males. The median income for a household in the county was $42,321, and the median income for a family was $49,569. Males had a median income of $35,037 versus $25,757 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,957. About 8.00% of families and 12.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.60% of those under age 18 and 8.50% of those age 65 or over.

Economy

Weld County is Colorado's leading producer of cattle, grain and sugar beets, and is the richest agricultural county in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, and the fourth richest overall nationally. It is also becoming more important as a milk producing county, with close to half of the state's cattle.
Weld County is also an important area of oil and natural gas production in the Denver-Julesburg basin|Denver-Julesburg Basin.

Communities



Cities

* Brighton‡ * Dacono * Evans * Fort Lupton * Greeley * Longmont‡ * Northglenn‡ * Thornton

Towns

* Ault * Berthoud ‡ * Eaton * Erie‡ * Firestone * Frederick * Garden City * Gilcrest * Grover * Hudson * Johnstown‡ * Keenesburg * Kersey * LaSalle * Lochbuie‡ * Mead * Milliken * Nunn * Pierce * Platteville * Raymer * Severance * Windsor

Census-designated places

* Aristocrat Ranchettes

Unincorporated communities

* Auburn * Avalo * Briggsdale * Carr * Dearfield * Galeton (originally called "Zita") * Gill * Hereford * Highlandlake * Ione * Keota * Lucerne * Roggen * Stoneham * Wattenburg

Ghost towns

* Agricola * Alden * Chapelton * Chenoa * Cherokee City * Cloverly * Coleman * Dearfield * Elwell * Flemings Ranch * Fort St. Vrain * Fosston * Gault * Geary * Graham * Green City * Hillsborough * Hiltonville * Hungerford * Kalous * Kauffman * Koenig * Lancaster * Latham * Liberty * Masters * Nantes * New Liberty * Osgood * Peckham * Plattevalley * Rinn * Rosedale * Saint Vrain * Serene * Sligo * Spanish Colony * Wentz * Zilar ‡ means a populated place has portions in an adjacent county or counties

Politics

Similar to the fellow Denver Metropolitan Area county of Douglas, Weld leans Republican. Except for Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 landslide win over Barry Goldwater, it has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1936.

See also

* Outline of Colorado * Index of Colorado-related articles * St. Vrains County, Jefferson Territory * Colorado census statistical areas * Fort St. Vrain Generating Station * Front Range Urban Corridor * National Register of Historic Places listings in Weld County, Colorado * Impact of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic on the meat industry in the United States

References



External links


Weld County Government website



Colorado Historical Society

Greeley/Weld Economic Development Action Partnership, Inc. (EDAP)
{{authority control Category:Colorado counties Category:1861 establishments in Colorado Territory Category:Eastern Plains Category:Populated places established in 1861