Palisade History

Palisade was named for the austere and dramatic palisades of Mancos Shale north of town. The sculptured appearance was formed by the uplifting of the area combined with localized erosion and the downcutting of the Colorado River.

About 75 million years ago, the Mesa Verde Group sands were stripped from the mountains in Utah and built up as beach sand and river beds as the Mancos sea retreated. The Mesa Verde group is also known for its thick layers of coal.

The first inhabitants of the Grand Valley were Ute Indians, followed by white settlers who began arriving in 1881.

By 1894, the first peach, pear, apple and grape orchards appeared in the area now known as the Vinelands. The soil was rich but rainfall was scarce, so barrels of water were hauled by wagons from the river to water young trees.

In 1913 the US Reclamation began construction of a system of irrigation canals to support agricultural efforts. Water from a 480 ft wide roller dam across the Colorado River diverts water into the 80 miles of irrigation canals which comprise the Highline Canal and Price and Stub Ditches.

The local climate is often referred to as “The Banana Belt.” The mild climate and unique terrain create near-perfect peach and grape growing conditions. Winds moving through Debeque Canyon are compressed and warmed to prevent crop killing frosts in the spring. As the winds move down valley further west it spreads out and its warming effect is diminished. The climate, a 182-day growing season, and an average 78% of sunshine makes Palisade “The Peach Capital.”

Palisade History in Pictures captures some of the flair and the tremendous success of early Palisade settlers. Many of the pictures on the site date from the 1890s and are presented “as is” with no enhancements or restoration. Whenever possible, people in the pictures are identified although we do not guarantee complete accuracy.

For more information, visit the websites of the Town of Palisade and Palisade Historical Society.