Custer County, Colorado

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Custer County
Westcliffe Jail.JPG
The Westcliffe Jail is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Custer County, Colorado seal.png
Seal
Map of Colorado highlighting Custer County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of Colorado
Colorado in United States.svg
Colorado's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 38°05′N105°22′W / 38.09°N 105.36°W / 38.09; -105.36
CountryFlag of the United States.svg United States
StateFlag of Colorado.svg  Colorado
FoundedMarch 9, 1877
Named for George Armstrong Custer
Seat Westcliffe
Largest town Silver Cliff
Area
  Total740 sq mi (1,900 km2)
  Land739 sq mi (1,910 km2)
  Water1.3 sq mi (3 km2)  0.2%%
Population
  Estimate 
(2019)
5,068
  Density5.8/sq mi (2.2/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain)
  Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district 3rd
Website custercountygov.com

Custer County is a county located in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 4,255. [1] The county seat is Westcliffe. [2]

Contents

History

Custer County was created by the Colorado legislature on March 9, 1877, out of the southern half of Fremont County. It was named in honor of Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, who had died the previous year. Originally set in Ula, the county seat moved to Rosita in 1878, and to Silver Cliff in 1886 before settling in Westcliffe in 1928.

The county was the site of a silver rush during the 1870s. Thousands of men poured into the county during this time in the hunt for silver. Some of the notable mines include the Geyser Mine (on the north edge of the town of Silver Cliff), the Bassick Mine (near the ghost town of Querida) and the Bull Domingo (north of Silver Cliff).

During the late 19th century a railroad line was connected through the Grape Creek Canyon but was permanently closed after a few disastrous floods. The old railhouse has been turned into a historical landmark in the town of Westcliffe.

After the mines were exhausted, the population dropped considerably and was replaced by cattle ranchers. An extensive system of irrigation ditches was built throughout the valley. Ranching in the Wet Mountain Valley continues to this day.

Geography

The Wet Mountain Valley of Custer County is nestled beneath the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains Hornfromvalley.jpg
The Wet Mountain Valley of Custer County is nestled beneath the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 740 square miles (1,900 km2), of which 739 square miles (1,910 km2) is land and 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2) (0.2%) is water. [3]

The county is very rugged and would be virtually inaccessible without roads. The lowest point of the county is around 6,000 feet (1,800 m) in elevation, but most of the county is rugged and mountainous. The county seat of Westcliffe is about 7,800 feet (2,400 m) and along with nearby town Silver Cliff lies in the Wet Mountain Valley which sits at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the west reach heights in excess of 14,000 feet (4,300 m) with Crestone Peak being the highest at 14,294 feet (4,357 m) and 7th highest fourteener in Colorado.

A large percentage of the county is National Forest land in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the west side and in the Wet Mountains on the east. The only lake of size is the DeWeese Reservoir in the north end of the Wet Mountain Valley.

Adjacent counties

Major Highways

National protected areas

Bicycle trails

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.
1880 8,080
1890 2,970−63.2%
1900 2,937−1.1%
1910 1,947−33.7%
1920 2,17211.6%
1930 2,124−2.2%
1940 2,2706.9%
1950 1,573−30.7%
1960 1,305−17.0%
1970 1,120−14.2%
1980 1,52836.4%
1990 1,92626.0%
2000 3,50381.9%
2010 4,25521.5%
2019 (est.)5,068 [4] 19.1%
U.S. Decennial Census [5]
1790-1960 [6] 1900-1990 [7]
1990-2000 [8] 2010-2018 [1]

As of the census [9] of 2000, there were 3,503 people, 1,480 households, and 1,077 families living in the county. The population density was 5 people per square mile (2/km2). There were 2,989 housing units at an average density of 4 per square mile (2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 95.89% White, 0.37% Black or African American, 1.11% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.71% from other races, and 1.63% from two or more races. 2.51% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 1,480 households, out of which 25.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.60% were married couples living together, 5.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.20% were non-families. 23.80% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.77.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 22.50% under the age of 18, 4.50% from 18 to 24, 23.30% from 25 to 44, 35.00% from 45 to 64, and 14.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 104.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,731, and the median income for a family was $41,198. Males had a median income of $32,460 versus $20,868 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,817. About 9.80% of families and 13.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.10% of those under age 18 and 12.60% of those age 65 or over.

Median household income (adjusted for inflation) dropped from $49,184 in 2009 to $32,261 in 2014, which made the county the third worst performing county in this respect in the country. [10]

Government

The county is governed by three county commissioners who are elected to 4-year terms with a term limit of two. In 2012, the county was represented by:

-District 1: Bill Canda (Republican), serving from 2017 to 2018. 1st term

-District 2: Jay Printz (Republican), serving from 2016 to 2020. 1st term.

-District 3: Tom Flower (Republican), serving from 2017 to 2020. 1st term.

There are several other public offices including Coroner, Sheriff, County Clerk and others.

[11]

Politics

Custer County is overall very conservative and heavily Republican. The most important election is not the general election, but the primary election between members of the Republican Party in August. During the 2004 presidential election, well over 60% of Custer County voters voted for the Republican candidates including George W. Bush and Pete Coors.

Presidential elections results
Custer County vote
by party in presidential elections
[12]
Year Republican Democratic Others
2020 68.1%2,47430.6% 1,1121.4% 49
2016 67.2%2,06126.0% 7976.8% 208
2012 65.9%1,78832.0% 8682.2% 59
2008 63.6%1,67234.7% 9121.7% 45
2004 68.3%1,65730.4% 7391.3% 32
2000 68.7%1,45124.0% 5077.3% 153
1996 58.9%92026.4% 41214.7% 230
1992 47.4%65125.0% 34327.7% 381
1988 69.5%75328.6% 3101.9% 21
1984 76.1%83222.1% 2411.8% 20
1980 66.7%67422.9% 23110.4% 105
1976 62.4%49132.9% 2594.7% 37
1972 71.4%49522.2% 1546.4% 44
1968 60.5%43328.5% 20411.0% 79
1964 46.7% 35852.9%4060.4% 3
1960 61.9%50938.2% 3140.0% 0
1956 66.8%53433.0% 2640.1% 1
1952 73.6%66225.7% 2310.7% 6
1948 58.0%54740.7% 3841.3% 12
1944 63.7%60135.3% 3331.0% 9
1940 57.4%68541.5% 4951.2% 14
1936 43.1% 52655.3%6741.6% 20
1932 34.5% 41360.8%7294.8% 57
1928 58.9%60038.2% 3892.9% 30
1924 44.4%42929.1% 28126.5% 256
1920 63.3%56032.7% 2894.1% 36
1916 41.4% 40354.3%5294.3% 42
1912 35.0% 34751.4%51013.6% 135

Despite the surface appearance of a homogeneous political culture, there is considerable dispute among residents over planning. One segment of residents (which includes ranchers) would like to see the County preserved in its present state as a mountain paradise with its rural ranching culture, with strict limitation on development. Proponents are sometimes seen as "anti-growth" and "anti-property rights." Another segment of the population would like to see less government and less restrictions on growth and development for the growth of business and the economy. Proponents are seen as "anti-environment" or "anti-agriculture."

Communities

Towns

Unincorporated communities

Ghost towns

See also

Related Research Articles

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Silver Cliff is a statutory town that is the most populous town in Custer County, Colorado, United States. The population was 587 at the 2010 census, up from 512 in 2000.

Westcliffe, Colorado Town in State of Colorado, United States

Westcliffe is a statutory town that is the county seat of Custer County, Colorado, United States. At the 2010 U.S. Census, the population was 568, up from 417 in 2000.

Wet Mountain Valley

The Wet Mountain Valley is a high elevation mountain valley located in Custer County, in south-central Colorado.

Wet Mountains Mountain range in southern Colorado, United States

The Wet Mountains are a small mountain range in southern Colorado, named for the amount of snow they receive in the winter. They are a sub-range of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, in the southern Rocky Mountains System. There are three variant names of mountain range: Cuerno Verde, Greenhorn Mountains, and Sierra Mojada.

Custer County High School is a public high school located in Westcliffe, Colorado, United States.

Grape Creek (Colorado)

Grape Creek is a tributary of the Arkansas River that flows through Custer and Fremont counties in South-Central Colorado. The creek drains much of the Wet Mountain Valley, located between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Wet Mountains in Custer County.

References

  1. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  4. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" . Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  5. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  6. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  7. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  8. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
  9. "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  10. http://time.com/4143468/recession-census-income/
  11. Officialwebpage - http://www.custercountygov.com/index.php?pg=commissioners
  12. Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved May 26, 2017.

Coordinates: 38°05′N105°22′W / 38.09°N 105.36°W / 38.09; -105.36