Grand Junction History

While our timeline begins in the 1880s when Grand Junction was founded, the region has a history well beyond that of Grand Junction. Traces of Paleo Indians in Mesa County date to 11,000 B.C.E., and Archaic Indians to 8,000 B.C.E. Fremont Indians were here about 700 to 1200 C.E. the area.  Additionally, the Ute people occupied territory in Colorado and Utah well before Spanish padres, mountain men, and surveyors came to explore and record the region. Colorado became the Centennial State in 1876. Three years later, an Indian uprising near Meeker led to the removal of Ute Indians from the northern two-thirds of Western Colorado to reservations in Utah. White settlers arrived in Mesa County in 1881.

Grand Junction History


Canyon View Park is a 110 acre recreation park at the corner of 24 and G Roads. Sports fields accommodate basketball, softball, soccer, volley ball, disc golf, skating, and also picnicking and playgrounds. The city parks department maintains 35 parks, and several trails including the river front; 381.5 acres are available for five new city parks. (Debbie Hartlerode Photo)


The Museum of Western Colorado, founded in 1965, opened a new History Museum and main office in May 2000. The building is the former headquarters of the C.D. Smith Company. A solidly built brick structure dating from 1936, it was remodeled with exhibit galleries and the Loyd Files Research Library. The Sterling T. Smith Tower offers vistas over the city and valley. The Museum also includes Cross Orchards Historic Farm, Dinosaur Journey (Fruita) and the Whitman Education Center.


  • Middle-eastern terrorists destroy World Trade Center and attack Pentagon on 9/11; patriotic fervor and security are high; many memorial services held
  • U.S. declares War on Terrorism
  • Harry Butler, third generation community member, elected first black city councilman
  • Name of Edward Innes, deputy sheriff killed in line of duty in 1906, added to Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial
  • Abby and Jennifer Blagg reported missing
  • Justice Center opens on West Main
  • Cornerstones of Law and Liberty Plaza dedicated, Fifth and Rood
  • New homeless shelter opens on North Avenue
  • Mesa County Public Library celebrates centennial, announces expansion plans
  • Gene Taylor’s Sportsman’s Supply donates land for ice skating arena
  • Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area dedicated
  • Redlands Mesa Golf Course opens


Mesa County courts built a new Justice Center which was inaugurated in 2001. It is at West Main and Spruce Streets, and is connected to the City/County Jail and Sheriff’s Department by a secure tunnel. Transportation of detainees to court hearings by armed vans had been complicated. Detention and courts now are conveniently close. (John Hedrick Photo)


  • Mesa County median income is slightly higher than $26,000 (source: Grand Junction Economic Partnership)
  • Eileen Jensen-Kercheval receives Experience Works Prime Time Award
  • Ryan Patterson, Central High School student, wins national Intel Science Talent Search
  • Wildfires rage across Western States; several near Grand Junction
  • Mesa County Courthouse restored and rededicated, 6th and Rood
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) drops law suit against city and Ten Commandments Monument
  • New Veterans Cemetery developed on D Road
  • Partners opens new facility at 11th and Colorado
  • Grand opening, extensively remodeled, Two Rivers Plaza
  • Enstrom’s Almond Toffee breaks ground on 41,000 sq. foot expansion
  • Home Loan announces $4.2 million downtown expansion project
  • Threestory, $ 5.1 million Fine Arts Building dedicated at Mesa State
  • Construction begins on Hilton Garden Inn (200 Block of Main)
  • Dual-language escuela (school) approved by School District #51 School Board
  • Central H.S. wins State Baseball championship
  • City begins work on railroad underpass at 30 Road and North Ave.
  • Chronic Wasting Disease affecting deer and elk found in Western Colorado
  • Torch run passes through Grand Junction on way to Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City
  • Colorado Governor Bill Owens names Grand Junction native Jane Norton his running mate for Lieutenant Governor