You never even called me by my nameBy Rob Carrigan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Names have power, for sure. In Colorado, they may really reflect who had the most power at time of origin. Because, once you let someone start calling something, it can be difficult to change. As W.C. Fields pointed out.
"It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.”
One of the oldest names recorded in Colorado, (if you don't employ an ancient Native American tongue) happens to appear on the state itself. "Colorado," as the Spanish explorer Don Juan Onate labeled the big red river in 1604, of course means red river in Spanish.
In Northern Colorado, if you are a town in Weld, Larimer, or Boulder County, you could be named after a person, place or thing.
Lists developed in the 1930s by Colorado Writers Project, an outgrowth of the Works Progress Administration (a federally funded to help stimulate the economy after the depression) began appearing in The Colorado Magazine, published by the State Historical Association starting in January, 1940.
From that effort, the lists included place names across the state, (even places that no longer existed) and the documented origins from that little-known effort resulted in several Colorado Place Names books over the years, including a very strong and well-researched volume by Geo. R. Eicher, labeled that, "Colorado Place Names," and dropped on public scene in 1977.
"The origins recorded by the WPA writers were based on personal recollections of early settlers or residents and/or their descendants, from correspondence with local officials (frequently postmasters) and incomplete records and notes," wrote Eicher at the time.
"Therefore, many many origins given are open to question: often two or more versions exist."
Given that ambiguity, following are some Northern Colorado origin stories from Eicher, the WPA project, and The Colorado Magazine.
Ault: Established 1888, Incorporated 1904. For Alexander Ault, pioneer miller of Fort Collins. Ault purchased the entire crop raised in the area for many years before grain storage facilities were available. The name was selected when a post office was established in 1904.
Allenspark: Established 1870? Named for an early settler in the area, Alonzo Allen, homesteaded in the area in 1859. The first post office was built in the 1870s and destroyed by fire in 1894. A later one was built two miles from the original.
Berts Corner: Established about 1935, named for Bert Foote, who operated a filling station and had tourist cabins in 1930s. It is possible a filing station was here prior to Foote's. A long sweeping curve on Highway 287 into Berthoud was constructed in 1936.
Buckingham: Established 1888. For C.D. Buckingham, superintendent of the McCook division of the Burlington Railroad. He surveyed and platted the townsite.
Campion: Established 1907. For John E. Campion, and engineer and surveyor for Colorado Central Railroad. Town was settled by members of the Seventh Day Adventists, who started the Campion Academy, a co-educational boarding school.
Dacono: Established 1906. Incorporated 1908. First established as a coal mine by C.L. Baum. As production increased, a settlement grew around the mine. Baum named the village Dacono, a word coined from the first two letters of his wife's name, Daisy, and from the corresponding letters of two of her friends: Cora Van Voorhies, and Nona Brooks.
Eldorado Springs: Established 1904. Thermal springs were probably named for their location in midst of highly mineralized district. A legend of Spanish explorers was that that an Indian ruler's custom was to daily gild his body with gold dust, washing it off in the lake near his swelling. This mythical potentate, "El Dorado," in time became used for regions rich in gold.
Frederick: Established 1907, Incorporated 1908. Named for Frederick A. Clark, owner of the townsite land. Founded by three women, Mary M. Clark, Maud Clark Reynolds, and Mary Clark Steele.
Galeton: Established 1909. When the Union Pacific Railroad constructed a branch here, it chose Gale as the name for the station. Confusion with nearby Gill prompted the change to Galeton. An earlier name was Zita. Probably honors a railroad official.
Garden City: Established 1935, Incorporated 1936. Name probably reflect name of nearby Greeley, "Garden City of the West." Earlier attempts to incorporate failed as the laws of Greeley prohibited sale of intoxicants, and it was asserted the purpose of this incorporation of the new town was to defeat the prohibition by providing a nearby supply.
Grover: Established 1888, Incorporated 1916. Names by Mrs. Neal Donavan, pioneer settler, that gave it here maiden name. The first post office was called Catoga, and was about mile north of the present town.
Hereford: Established 1902. For the famous breed of white-faced cattle popular in the region. A Hereford Station was established by the Burlington Norther Railroad in 1886, just north of the Colorado line. In 1888, a post office was of the same name was created in Weld County. In 1902, Frank Benton named his ranch and a small settlement in Colorado "New Hereford," but "New" was later dropped. A town plat was filed in 1909.
Keenesburg: Established 1907, Incorporated 1919. First known as Keene, for an area rancher, as a telegraph office and side track for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. When post office arrived in 1907, present name was used.
Lucerne: Established 1892. When the Union Pacific Railroad built a sidetrack and station, for alfalfa and potatoes, the name by which alfalfa was commonly known.
Marshall: Established 1878. One-time business center for the rich coal mining area founded by Joseph M. Marshall, who discovered the coal. Post office was changed to Langford in 1882, probably for N. P. Langford, president of the Marshall Coal Co., the settlement continued to be known as Marshall.
Masonville: Established 1885. Once, and important trading post, it was settled by Benjamin, James and Joseph Miller, and named for James R. Mason, a rancher who laid out the site when gold was discovered nearby. When the post office was created in 1880, to avoid confusion with another Mason, postal authorities changed the name to Masonville.
Masters: Established 1900. Named by John Barton, owner of the 4-Bar Cattle Ranch for his foreman, John Masters.
Meeker Park: Established 1900? Probably named for Mount Meeker, which is named for Nathan C. Meeker, the founder of Greeley.
Nunn: Established 1904, Incorporated 1908. In honor of Tom Nunn, homesteader, who prevented a serious train wreck by flagging a train after he discovered a burning bridge near Pierce. As a token of its appreciation, Union Pacific Railroad built a house for Nunn. About 1904, when a switch was built by the railroad, John Peterson, section foreman, suggested it be named for Nunn. The town previously had been known as Maynard, having been laid out by Murry & Bancroft of Denver.
Pierce: Established 1907, Incorporated 1918. Long before there was a little settlement here, the Union Pacific Railroad built a switch and water tank on the site, calling it Pierce. The name honors Gen. John Pierce, former Surveyor General of Colorado Territory, and one-time president of the Denver Pacific Railroad. When the town was established by John E. and Bert A. Shafer, the name was retained.
Pinecliffe: Established, 1900? Named about 1900 by Dr. Craig, a minister, for an unusually beautiful cliff nearby. Settlement was originally call "Gato," Spanish for "cat" or "wildcat."
Poudre Park: Established 1915. Homesteaded by Thomas h. Farrell, and earlier called Columbine. The name is from the adjacent Cache La Poudre River, known locally as the Poudre. it refers to the cache of of powder by employees of the American Fur Co., who buried supplies — including several kegs of gun powder — near Laporte. The reason was reportedly to lighten loads of their teams enroute to the Green River. Poudre is French for "powder."
Prospect Valley: Established 1922. Settled by John G. Michael, and named for the Prospect Valley School, so called because it is reportedly one of the most fertile valleys in the state
Raymer: Established 1888, Incorporated 1919. Most of the district was vacated in 1893 and January, 1894, the site was again platted in 1909. The Lincoln Land Co. named the town Raymer, honoring George Raymer, an assistant chief engineer on the Burlington & Missouri Railroad. Postal employees called it New Raymer to avoid confusion with Ramah, Colo.
Raymond: Established 1895? For family name and first called Raymond Ranch. Later called Raymonds. It was once an overnight stopping place for travelers from Jimtown via Gresham to Allenspark and Estes Park.
Red Feather Lakes: Established 1923. The resort town was founded by a Mr. Princell and named by him for Chief Redfeather, hero of the Cherokee Indian legend.
Rockport: Established 1926. Built on land owned land owned by Clark Coleman and named by Coleman for Rockport, Ill. where he once lived. The first buildings were of rocks, gathered locally. Arthur DePorter who was still living in hte area in the 1970s, said he helped Coleman haul the stones used by Coleman to build a garage and lunchroom.
Roggen: Established 1883. First known as Blair, but changed by the post office because of Blair, Neb. The name Roggen was given by postal authorities, but the source is controversial. One version is that it was named for one of the surveyors for the Burlington & Missouri Railroad. Another version has it that the name honors Edward P. Roggin, a former Nebraska Secretary of State.
Rosedale: Established 1939, Incorporated 1939. Platted as a 40-acre settlement on Greeley's south border, to circumvent "dry" laws of that city. Greeley was a "temperance" city until 1969. At one time, the nickname "Boozeville" was applied. The original plat by George E. Kenrick and his wife Rose Agnes.
Rustic: Established 1882. When the Rustic Hotel was built by S.B. Stewart at the foot of Pingree Hill, old timers called a stay in the mountain lodging as "rusticating" and "rustic" means a respite from ordinary demands." Teddy Roosevelt and U.S. Grant are said to have been among the "rusticators."
Ted Place: Established 1922, by Edward Irving Herring — better known as Ted — when he returned from World war 1. A landmark for tourist going to Poudre Canyon marking the entrance to the canyon.
The Forks: Established 1875. For its location on Highway 287 where the road forks, toward Livermore. Started by Robert O. Roberts as a hotel for lumberjacks working in the area. It was also a stage stop on the Denver—Laramie route.
Photo Information: Top photo Fort Collins, Old Town. Remaining historic photos precede Northern Colorado towns that follow them.