Weld County, Colorado

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Weld County
Weld County Courthouse
Weld County Courthouse
Map of Colorado highlighting Weld County
Location within the U.S. state of Colorado
Map of the United States highlighting Colorado
Colorado's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 40°32′N 104°24′W / 40.54°N 104.4°W / 40.54; -104.4
Country United States
State Colorado
FoundedNovember 3, 1861
SeatGreeley
Largest cityGreeley
Area
 • Total4,017 sq mi (10,400 km2)
 • Land3,987 sq mi (10,330 km2)
 • Water30 sq mi (80 km2)  0.7%
Population
 • Estimate 
(2020)
328,981
 • Density83/sq mi (32/km2)
Time zoneUTC−7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district4th
Websitewww.weldgov.com

Weld County is a county located in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2020 census, the population was 328,981.[1] The county seat is Greeley.[2]

Weld County comprises the Greeley, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the DenverAurora, CO Combined Statistical Area.[3]

History[edit]

Weld County Courthouse from Lincoln Park.

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.[4] 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.[5] 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",[6] one of the many unmanned silos there, was the target of symbolic vandalism by Catholic peace activists in 2002.[7][8]

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.[9]

On March 6, 2019, the county declared itself to be a Second Amendment sanctuary.[10]

Secession proposals[edit]

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.[11] 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."[12]

The logo of Weld County, WY.

In 2021, a group known as "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.[13] Mark Gordon, the Governor of Wyoming, said when asked about the topic, "We would love that."[14] In response to Gordon's comment, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said, "Hands off Weld County."[15]

Geography[edit]

Crop fields in western Weld County
Rock formation near the Pawnee Buttes

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,017 square miles (10,400 km2), of which 3,987 square miles (10,330 km2) are land and 30 square miles (78 km2) (0.7%) are water.[16] 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 350 feet (110 m) 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[edit]

Major Highways[edit]

National protected area[edit]

Sunrise over the Pawnee National Grassland in northeastern Weld County.

State protected area[edit]

Trails and byways[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18701,636
18805,646245.1%
189011,736107.9%
190016,80843.2%
191039,177133.1%
192054,05938.0%
193065,09720.4%
194063,747−2.1%
195067,5045.9%
196072,3447.2%
197089,29723.4%
1980123,43838.2%
1990131,8216.8%
2000180,93637.3%
2010252,82539.7%
2020328,98130.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[19]
1790-1960[20] 1900-1990[21]
1990-2000[22] 2010-2020[1]

As of the census[23] 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[edit]

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.[24] [3] Weld County is also an important area of oil and natural gas production in the Denver-Julesburg Basin.

Communities[edit]

A grain elevator in Nunn.

Cities[edit]

Towns[edit]

Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Ghost towns[edit]

‡ means a populated place has portions in an adjacent county or counties

Politics[edit]

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.

United States presidential election results for Weld County, Colorado[26]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 96,145 57.58% 66,060 39.56% 4,769 2.86%
2016 76,651 56.60% 46,519 34.35% 12,260 9.05%
2012 63,775 54.84% 49,050 42.18% 3,466 2.98%
2008 56,526 53.39% 47,292 44.67% 2,048 1.93%
2004 55,591 62.71% 31,868 35.95% 1,194 1.35%
2000 37,409 57.96% 23,436 36.31% 3,696 5.73%
1996 26,518 49.67% 21,325 39.94% 5,547 10.39%
1992 20,958 38.79% 19,295 35.71% 13,776 25.50%
1988 26,497 55.42% 20,548 42.98% 762 1.59%
1984 31,293 68.51% 13,863 30.35% 523 1.14%
1980 23,901 58.80% 11,433 28.13% 5,312 13.07%
1976 21,976 55.35% 16,501 41.56% 1,225 3.09%
1972 24,695 66.29% 11,690 31.38% 870 2.34%
1968 17,101 57.26% 10,420 34.89% 2,344 7.85%
1964 12,204 41.12% 17,268 58.18% 207 0.70%
1960 17,558 60.99% 11,179 38.83% 53 0.18%
1956 17,228 62.75% 10,170 37.04% 57 0.21%
1952 18,002 66.44% 8,890 32.81% 204 0.75%
1948 12,446 52.65% 10,934 46.25% 259 1.10%
1944 14,546 63.01% 8,459 36.64% 81 0.35%
1940 16,129 59.72% 10,653 39.44% 227 0.84%
1936 9,606 41.23% 12,993 55.77% 697 2.99%
1932 10,754 46.87% 11,182 48.73% 1,009 4.40%
1928 13,719 69.58% 5,762 29.22% 236 1.20%
1924 10,185 62.68% 3,406 20.96% 2,659 16.36%
1920 10,268 63.78% 5,202 32.31% 630 3.91%
1916 5,395 37.12% 8,600 59.18% 538 3.70%
1912 3,114 27.39% 4,713 41.46% 3,541 31.15%
1908 5,537 51.05% 4,650 42.87% 659 6.08%
1904 4,833 62.12% 2,555 32.84% 392 5.04%
1900 2,786 42.95% 3,386 52.20% 314 4.84%
1896 874 15.54% 4,620 82.13% 131 2.33%
1892 1,138 41.10% 0 0.00% 1,631 58.90%
1888 1,942 57.56% 1,036 30.71% 396 11.74%
1884 1,332 53.49% 765 30.72% 393 15.78%
1880 804 56.26% 373 26.10% 252 17.63%

Education[edit]

School districts serving Weld County include:[27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "OMB Bulletin No. 10-02: Update of Statistical Area Definitions and Guidance on Their Uses" (PDF). Office of Management and Budget. December 1, 2009. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 21, 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2012 – via National Archives.
  4. ^ "An Act to provide a temporary Government for the Territory of Colorado" (PDF). Thirty-sixth United States Congress. February 28, 1861. Retrieved November 26, 2007.
  5. ^ "Weld County, Colorado County Information". ePodunk. Archived from the original on July 11, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  6. ^ "Warren AFB Minuteman Missile Site Coordinates". Asuwlink.uwyo.edu. Archived from the original on June 25, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  7. ^ [1] Archived July 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ [2] Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Map: U.S. Tornadoes by County, 1950-2011 - U.S. Tornadoes". U.S. Tornadoes. May 22, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  10. ^ "Resolution declares Weld County to be a 'Second Amendment sanctuary'". FOX31 Denver. March 6, 2019. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  11. ^ Romano, Analisa (October 9, 2013). "Greeley Attorneys Question Legality Of Weld Commissioners Advocating For 51st State". The Greeley Tribune (via Huffington Post). Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  12. ^ Whaley, Monte (November 5, 2013). "51st state question answered "no" in 6 of 11 counties contemplating secession". www.denverpost.com. The Denver Post. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  13. ^ Gstalter, Morgan (January 29, 2021). "Group in Colorado county seeks secession from state to join Wyoming". Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  14. ^ Reynolds, Nick (February 2, 2021). "Gordon on Weld County secession: 'We would love that'". Casper Star-Tribune. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  15. ^ Holdman, Raetta (February 4, 2021). "Gov. Jared Polis Tells Wyoming Governor 'Hands Off Weld County'". Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  16. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  17. ^ "Pawnee Pioneer Trails". Colorado Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  18. ^ "Cache la Poudre - North Park". Colorado Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 2, 2020.
  19. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  20. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  21. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  22. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  23. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  24. ^ "Weld County: About Weld". Co.weld.co.us. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  25. ^ Hovey, Edmund Otis (November 30, 1925). "A New Meteoric Stone from Johnstown, Weld County, Colorado". American Museum Novitates. New York City: The American Museum of Natural History.
  26. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
  27. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: Weld County, CO" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 19, 2022. - Text list

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°32′N 104°24′W / 40.54°N 104.40°W / 40.54; -104.40