Larimer County, Colorado

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Larimer County
Colorado State University Spruce Hall.jpg
Map of Colorado highlighting Larimer County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of Colorado
Colorado in United States.svg
Colorado's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 40°39′N105°28′W / 40.65°N 105.46°W / 40.65; -105.46 Coordinates: 40°39′N105°28′W / 40.65°N 105.46°W / 40.65; -105.46
CountryFlag of the United States.svg United States
StateFlag of Colorado.svg  Colorado
FoundedNovember 1, 1861
Named for William Larimer, Jr.
Seat Fort Collins
Largest cityFort Collins
  Total2,634 sq mi (6,820 km2)
  Land2,596 sq mi (6,720 km2)
  Water38 sq mi (100 km2)  1.4%%
  Density133/sq mi (51/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain)
  Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district 2nd

Larimer County is a county located in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 299,630. [1] The county seat and most populous city is Fort Collins. [2] The county was named for William Larimer, Jr., [3] the founder of Denver.


Larimer County comprises the Fort Collins, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county is located at the northern end of the Front Range, at the edge of the Colorado Eastern Plains along the border with Wyoming.


Larimer County was created in 1861, and was named after General William Larimer.

Unlike that of much of Colorado, which was founded on the mining of gold and silver, the settlement of Larimer County was based almost entirely on agriculture, an industry that few thought possible in the region during the initial days of the Colorado Gold Rush. The mining boom almost entirely passed the county by. It would take the introduction of irrigation to the region in the 1860s to bring the first widespread settlement to the area.

Early history

Wagon trail pass near Fort Collins, Colorado, from a 7 June 1859 sketch Cherokee Pass2.jpg
Wagon trail pass near Fort Collins, Colorado, from a 7 June 1859 sketch

At the time of the arrival of Europeans in the early 19th century, the present-day county was occupied by Native Americans, with the Utes occupying the mountainous areas and the Cheyenne and Arapaho living on the piedmont areas along the base of the foothills. French fur trappers infiltrated the area in the early decades of the 19th century, soon after the area became part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase and was organized as part of the Missouri Territory. In 1828 William H. Ashley ascended the Cache la Poudre River on his way to the Green River in present-day Utah. The river itself received its name in the middle 1830s from an obscure incident in which French-speaking trappers hid gunpowder along its banks, somewhere near present-day Laporte or Bellvue. In 1848 a group of Cherokee crossed through the county following the North Fork of the Poudre to the Laramie Plains on their way to California along a route that became known as the Cherokee Trail.

The area of county was officially opened to white settlement following negotiations with the Cheyenne and Arapaho in the 1858 Treaty of Fort Laramie, by which time the area was part of the Nebraska Territory. The first U.S. settlers arrived that same year in a party led by Antoine Janis from Fort Laramie. Janis, who had visited the area near Bellvue in 1844 and proclaimed it "the most beautiful place on earth", returned to file his official claim and helped found the first U.S. settlement in present-day Colorado, called Colona, just west of Laporte. Nearly simultaneously, Mariano Medina established Fort Namaqua along the Big Thompson River just west of present-day Loveland. The first irrigation canals were established along the Poudre in the 1860s.

In 1862 the settlement established by Janis became a stagecoach stop along the Overland Stage Route which was established because of threats of attacks from Native Americans on the northern trails in Wyoming. In 1861, Laporte was designated as the first county seat after the organization of the Colorado Territory. In 1862, the United States Army established an outpost near Laporte that was designated as Camp Collins. A devastating flood in June 1864 wiped out the outpost, forcing the Army to seek a better location. At the urging of Joseph Mason, who had settled along the Poudre in 1860, the Army relocated its post downstream adjacent to Mason's land along the Overland stage route. The site of the new post became the nucleus of the town of Fort Collins, incorporated in 1873 after the withdrawal of the Army. By that time, Mason and others had convinced the Colorado Territorial Legislature to designate the new town as the county seat. In 1870, the legislature designated Fort Collins as the location of the state agricultural college (later Colorado State University), although the institution would exist only on paper for another 9 years while local residents sought money to construct the first campus buildings. In 1873, Robert A. Cameron and other members of the Greeley Colony established the Fort Collins Agricultural Colony, which greatly expanded the grid plan and population of Fort Collins.


One of the primary goals of the early citizens of the county was the courting of railroads. County residents were disappointed when the Denver Pacific Railroad bypassed the county in 1870 in favor of Greeley. The first railroad finally arrived in the county in 1877 when the Colorado Central Railroad extended a line north from Golden via Longmont to Cheyenne. The town council of Fort Collins designated right-of-way through the center of town (and through the campus of the unbuilt college) for the line, creating a contentious issue to this day.

Along the new railroad sprung up the new platted towns of Loveland and Berthoud, named respectively after the president and chief surveyor of the Colorado Central. Likewise, Wellington (founded in 1903) was named for a railroad employee. The Greeley, Salt Lake, and Pacific Railroad arrived three years later as a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad, with the intention of creating a transcontinental line over Cameron Pass. Although the line was never extended over the mountains, it opened up the quarrying of stone for the railroad at Stout, furnishing another industry for the region. The brief attempt at the mining of gold in the region centered at the now ghost town of Manhattan in the Poudre Canyon.


The early growth of agriculture, which depended highly on direct river irrigation, experienced a second boom in 1902 with the introduction of the cultivation of sugar beets, accompanied by the construction of the large processing plant of the Great Western Sugar Co. in Loveland. In the following decade, the sugar beet industry brought large numbers of German emigrants from the Russian Empire to the county. The neighborhoods of Fort Collins northeast of the Poudre were constructed largely to house these new families.

A significant increase in the agricultural productivity of the region came in the 1930s with the construction of the Colorado Big Thompson Project following the Great Depression, sort of a third boom for the agricultural industry around Fort Collins. This project collected and captured Western Slope water, and carried it over to the Front Range Colorado counties of Boulder, Larimer, and Weld, along with extensive water storage and distribution system, which significantly extended the irrigable growing season and brought substantial additional land under irrigation for the first time.


Fall colors, Poudre Canyon Fall colors, Poudre Canyon.jpg
Fall colors, Poudre Canyon

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,634 square miles (6,820 km2), of which 2,596 square miles (6,720 km2) is land and 38 square miles (98 km2) (1.4%) is water. [4]

Adjacent counties

Major highways

National protected areas

State protected areas


Historical population
1870 838
1880 4,892483.8%
1890 9,71298.5%
1900 12,16825.3%
1910 25,270107.7%
1920 27,87210.3%
1930 33,13718.9%
1940 35,5397.2%
1950 43,55422.6%
1960 53,34322.5%
1970 89,90068.5%
1980 149,18465.9%
1990 186,13624.8%
2000 251,49435.1%
2010 299,63019.1%
2019 (est.)356,899 [5] 19.1%
U.S. Decennial Census [6]
1790–1960 [7] 1900–1990 [8]
1990–2000 [9] 2010–2015 [1]

As of the census [10] of 2000, there were 251,494 people, 97,164 households, and 63,156 families residing in the county. The population density was 97 people per square mile (37/km2). There were 105,392 housing units at an average density of 40 per square mile (16/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 91.44% White, 0.66% Black or African American, 0.66% Native American, 1.56% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 3.41% from other races, and 2.19% from two or more races. 8.27% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 97,164 households, out of which 31.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.60% were married couples living together, 7.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.00% were non-families. Of all households 23.40% were made up of individuals, and 6.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.80% under the age of 18, 14.20% from 18 to 24, 30.70% from 25 to 44, 21.80% from 45 to 64, and 9.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 99.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $48,655, and the median income for a family was $58,866. Males had a median income of $40,829 versus $27,859 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,689. About 4.30% of families and 9.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.80% of those under age 18 and 4.40% of those age 65 or over.




Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost towns


Larimer was previously a Republican stronghold. Between 1920 and 2004, the only Democrat to ever win an absolute majority of votes in the county was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. It is also a bellwether county; as of the 2020 election, it has voted for the statewide winner in every election since 1948, when Harry Truman carried Colorado without it.

However, increasing urbanization, as well as the influence of Colorado State, caused the Republican margins to decline steadily in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first Democrat to carry the county with the majority of the vote since 1964, and in so doing recorded the best performance by a Democrat since the days of Woodrow Wilson and William Jennings Bryan. In 2020, Joe Biden's margin of victory was even greater.

Presidential election results
Larimer County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year Republican Democratic Others
2020 40.8% 91,48956.2%126,1203.0% 6,729
2016 42.6% 83,43047.5%93,1139.9% 19,438
2012 45.7% 82,37651.5%92,7472.8% 5,057
2008 44.3% 73,64254.0%89,8231.8% 2,910
2004 51.8%75,88446.6% 68,2661.6% 2,286
2000 52.7%62,42938.9% 46,0558.5% 10,053
1996 47.1%45,93542.0% 40,96510.8% 10,550
1992 36.1% 35,99538.4%38,23225.5% 25,433
1988 55.3%45,96743.0% 35,7031.7% 1,396
1984 66.7%49,88331.9% 23,8961.4% 1,069
1980 56.5%36,24026.6% 17,07216.9% 10,817
1976 60.7%32,16935.9% 19,0053.4% 1,809
1972 65.0%27,46232.5% 13,7312.5% 1,041
1968 62.1%18,43830.8% 9,1527.0% 2,086
1964 47.3% 11,63652.0%12,7760.7% 173
1960 67.4%15,67132.5% 7,5500.2% 34
1956 71.8%14,36428.0% 5,6120.2% 39
1952 72.9%14,48426.5% 5,2660.6% 110
1948 57.6%9,81341.5% 7,0620.9% 154
1944 65.5%9,91434.2% 5,1720.4% 58
1940 62.2%10,72037.1% 6,4020.7% 126
1936 47.6% 7,24349.4%7,5213.0% 457
1932 49.9%7,04046.0% 6,4944.1% 584
1928 70.9%8,21327.7% 3,2031.4% 162
1924 66.7%6,53820.1% 1,97013.3% 1,301
1920 64.3%5,48731.8% 2,7083.9% 333
1916 34.2% 2,79759.5%4,8686.3% 518
1912 27.0% 1,93236.3%2,59736.8% 2,632 [lower-alpha 1]
1908 51.0%4,48941.3% 3,6297.6% 668
1904 62.6%4,13831.3% 2,0706.0% 398
1900 45.8% 2,34348.0%2,4566.1% 312
1896 18.1% 73478.8%3,1953.0% 124
1892 43.0% 97556.9%1,290
1888 58.3%1,32233.9% 7697.7% 176
1884 54.0%1,03833.5% 64412.4% 240
1880 53.2%64631.9% 38814.7% 179


Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University.


Greyrock Mountain trail Poudre Canyon, Greyrock trail.jpg
Greyrock Mountain trail

Prehistoric site

National trails

Bicycle route

Scenic byways

Other features and attractions

See also


  1. The leading "other" candidate, Progressive Theodore Roosevelt, received 1,661 votes, while Socialist candidate Eugene Debs received 546 votes, Prohibition candidate Eugene Chafin received 401 votes, and Socialist Labor candidate Arthur Reimer received 24 votes.

Related Research Articles

Fort Collins, Colorado Home Rule Municipality in Colorado, United States

The City of Fort Collins is the Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Larimer County, Colorado, United States. Fort Collins is the principal city of the Fort Collins, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area and is a major city of the Front Range Urban Corridor. Situated on the Cache La Poudre River along the Colorado Front Range, Fort Collins is located 56 mi (90 km) north of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. With a 2019 estimated population of 170,243, it is the fourth most populous city in Colorado after Denver, Colorado Springs, and Aurora. Fort Collins is a midsize college city, home to Colorado State University and Front Range Community College's Larimer campus.

Weld County, Colorado County in Colorado, United States

Weld County is a county located in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 252,825. The county seat is Greeley.

Berthoud, Colorado Statutory town in State of Colorado, United States

The Town of Berthoud is a statutory town in Larimer and Weld counties in the U.S. state of Colorado. The town population was 5,105 at the 2010 United States Census and an estimated 7,946 in 2018. Berthoud is situated north of the Little Thompson River, 21 miles (34 km) south of Fort Collins and 43 miles (69 km) north of Denver along the Front Range Urban Corridor.

Laporte, Colorado Census Designated Place in Colorado, United States

Laporte is an unincorporated town, a post office, and a census-designated place (CDP) located in and governed by Larimer County, Colorado, United States. The CDP is a part of the Fort Collins, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. The Laporte post office has the ZIP Code 80535. At the United States Census 2010, the population of the Laporte CDP was 2,450, while the population of the 80535 ZIP Code Tabulation Area was 2,636 including adjacent areas.

Loveland, Colorado Home Rule Municipality in Colorado, United States

The City of Loveland is the Home Rule Municipality that is the second most populous municipality in Larimer County, Colorado, United States. Loveland is situated 46 miles (74 km) north of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver and is the 14th most populous city in Colorado. As of the 2010 census the population of Loveland was 66,859, and in 2019 the population was estimated at 78,877. The city forms part of the Fort Collins-Loveland Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Front Range Urban Corridor. The city's public schools are part of the Thompson R2-J School District.

Windsor, Colorado Town in Colorado, United States

Windsor is a Home Rule Municipality in Larimer and Weld counties in the U.S. state of Colorado. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town was 18,644. Windsor is located in the region known as Northern Colorado. Windsor is situated 59 miles (95 km) north of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.

Colorado Territory

The Territory of Colorado was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from February 28, 1861, until August 1, 1876, when it was admitted to the Union as the State of Colorado.

Buckeye, Colorado

Buckeye is a farming and ranching unincorporated community in north central Larimer County, Colorado, United States. Bounded on the west by the 16,500-acre (67 km2) Roberts Ranch, the area includes Red Mountain Open Space to the north, Rawhide flats to the east, and extends south to Owl Canyon.

Colorado State Highway 14

State Highway 14 in the U.S. state of Colorado is an east–west state highway approximately 237 miles (381 km) long. One of the longest state highways in Colorado, it traverses four counties along the northern edge of the state, spanning a geography from the continental divide in the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains, and including North Park, the Poudre Canyon, and the Pawnee National Grassland. It provides the most direct route from Fort Collins westward via Cameron Pass to Walden and Steamboat Springs, and eastward across the plains to Sterling.

Poudre Canyon

The Poudre Canyon is a narrow verdant canyon, approximately 40 mi (64 km) long, on the upper Cache la Poudre River in Larimer County, Colorado in the United States. The canyon is a glacier-formed valley through the foothills of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains northwest of Fort Collins.

Bellvue, Colorado Unincorporated community in State of Colorado, United States

Bellvue is an unincorporated community and U.S. Post Office in Larimer County, Colorado. It is a small agricultural community located in Pleasant Valley, a narrow valley just northwest of Fort Collins near the mouth of the Poudre Canyon between the Dakota Hogback ridge and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The ZIP Code of the Bellvue Post Office is 80512.

Jacob Flowers was an early white 19th century settler in Larimer County, Colorado. He was the founder of the town of Bellvue northwest of Fort Collins.

Antoine Janis

Antoine Janis was a 19th-century French-American fur trader and an early white homesteader in Larimer County, Colorado, in the United States. The first recorded permanent white settler in northern Colorado, he founded the town of Laporte in 1858.

Camp Collins was a 19th-century outpost of the United States Army in the Colorado Territory. The fort was commissioned in the summer of 1862 to protect the Overland Trail from attacks by Native Americans in a conflict that later became known as the Colorado War. Located along the Cache la Poudre River in Larimer County, it was relocated from its initial location near Laporte after a devastating flood. Its second location downstream on the Poudre was used until 1866 and became the nucleus around which the City of Fort Collins was founded.

The North Fork Cache la Poudre River is a tributary of the Cache la Poudre River, approximately 59.2 miles (95.3 km) long, in north central Colorado in the United States. It drains a mountainous area of north central Larimer County northwest of Fort Collins on the western side of the Laramie Foothills.

Fort Collins – Loveland Metropolitan Statistical Area

The Fort Collins – Loveland Metropolitan Statistical Area is a United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defined Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) located in the Fort Collins and Loveland area in the North Central region of the U.S. state of Colorado. The Fort Collins–Loveland MSA is defined as Larimer County, Colorado. The Census Bureau estimates that the population was 310,487 in 2012, a 3.62% increase since 2010. The Fort Collins–Loveland MSA is the 151st most populous MSA in the United States.

North Central Colorado Urban Area

The North Central Colorado Urban Area comprises the four contiguous metropolitan statistical areas in the north central region of the State of Colorado: the Denver–Aurora Metropolitan Statistical Area, the Boulder Metropolitan Statistical Area, the Fort Collins-Loveland Metropolitan Statistical Area, and the Greeley Metropolitan Statistical Area. With the exception of southeastern Elbert County, southeastern Park County, and tiny portions of southern Douglas County, the entire North Central Colorado Urban Area is drained by the South Platte River and its tributaries. The North Central Colorado Urban Area is the central, and the most populous, of the three primary subregions of the Front Range Urban Corridor.

North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization

The North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization (NFRMPO) is an association of 15 local governments working together to improve regional transportation and air quality. The NFRMPO does long-range and short-range planning, and prioritizes which projects in those plans will receive state and federal funding. The goal of the NFRMPO is to enhance air quality and mobility among northern Colorado communities, and between the North Front Range and the Denver Metro area, by developing cooperative working relationships and financial partnerships among our member governments: Berthoud, Eaton, Evans, Fort Collins, Garden City, Greeley, Johnstown, Larimer County, LaSalle, Loveland, Milliken, Severance, Timnath, Weld County, and Windsor, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the private sector, giving local governments a voice in regional transportation planning.

Front Range Urban Corridor Megaregion of the U.S. in the United States

The Front Range Urban Corridor is an oblong region of urban population located along the eastern face of the Southern Rocky Mountains, encompassing 18 counties in the US states of Colorado and Wyoming. The corridor derives its name from the Front Range, the mountain range that defines the western boundary of the corridor which serves as a gateway to the Rocky Mountains. The region comprises the northern portion of the Southern Rocky Mountain Front geographic area, which in turn comprises the southern portion of the Rocky Mountain Front geographic area of Canada and the United States. The Front Range Urban Corridor had an estimated population of 4,976,781 on July 1, 2018, an increase of +14.84% since the 2010 United States Census. The population exceeded 5 million in 2019. Roughly 98% of the population within the entire urban corridor region is within Colorado and roughly 85% of Colorado's population resides within the urban corridor region.

Bellvue-Watson Fish Hatchery

The Bellvue-Watson Fish Hatchery is a Colorado Parks and Wildlife cold water fish production facility located near Cache la Poudre River and Watson Lake State Wildlife Area in Larimer County, Colorado. Hatchery staff works to support the raising of approximately 1.5 million sub-catchable trout annually. The Watson Lake Rearing Unit, a division within the hatchery, is responsible for rearing approximately 300,000 catchable trout each year. The hatchery stocks fishing sports in Wellington, Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont and Jumbo Reservoir near Julesburg and Hale ponds.


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  12. Park R3