Arvada Colorado History started with Gold! Gold! Gold!
The first gold strike in Colorado occurred in what is now the city of Arvada, June 22, 1850. A wagon train making its way to California from Georgia stopped along Clear Creek to rest for a day. Lewis Ralston dipped his gold pan in a an unnamed nearby stream and found almost $5.00 in gold in his first pan.
One member of that wagon train, John Lowery Brown, kept a diary of the trek. His entry for the day that gold was discovered read, Lay bye. Gold found. He called this Ralston Creek because a man of that name found gold here. This discovery gave rise to the current Arvada Colorado real estate market. Ralston continued to California returning some 8 years later. Today, Arvada has set aside land to develop Gold Strike Park at the site of the discovery, the confluence of Ralston Creek and Clear Creek.
Not everyone got rich panning for gold. The Arvada, Colorado settlement and that of Denver City needed food and the land around Arvada proved to be a food gold mine. The gold crops were wheat, corn, oats, celery, plums, cherries, strawberries and various other vegetables. Arvada, at one point in time was known as the Celery Capital of the World. Farmers grew Pascal celery (also known as trench celery). This celery, available in November and early December, was served at the White House for the holidays in the 1900s. It is available in the local grocery stores during the holidays.
To aid the growing agricultural business, John Reno, George Calvin Swadley, William Barranger and others dug the Ralston Point Mining Ditch for irrigation to the farmlands. By1860, Arvada boasted more than thirty land claims, mostly by men who came for gold and stayed to work their farms. The ditch later became known as the Wadsworth irrigation ditch.
Pioneer Benjamin Franklin Wadsworth was a man with a vision for the town. In 1863 he purchased land and by 1968 had erected a log cabin and moved his family into the home. Most Arvada, Colorado real estate at the time was log cabins or tents. He realized that if the area was actually platted into a town, the railroad between Denver and Golden, the Colorado Central, would aid the development of the city. Wadsworth laid out nine square blocks for the town on his 160 acres. His wife, Mary Ann, named the town after her brother-in-law, Hiram Arvada Haskins. Formal notice of the new town as posted December 1, 8170. Population: 100.
Wadsworth also applied for a post office and became the first postmaster. Trains threw off the mails sacks to be sorted by the postmaster.
Wadsworth was a big supporter of the new city. He worked to bring homeowners and shopkeepers to the new town. All the stores were located on Railroad and Centre streets. Railroad Street later became Grandview and Centre, Wadsworth Blvd. Retail shops included a bank, grocery stores, drug store, blacksmith shop, and a livery stable.
1902 Denver Interurban, fondly called the trolley, began regular runs from Arvada to Denver. The line was extended to the coal camp at Leyden and a run of the trolley every hour on the hour could carry both coal and passengers. The trolley made its last run on June 25th, 1950.
1907 The purchase of Arvada’s first fire engine. The hand-drawn chemical fire engine arrived by rail from New York, and a group of volunteers known as the Arvada Fire Company was established.
1910 Arvada Water Tank was completed.
1911 Arvada Fire Department was formed.
1916 A. L. Davis built a two-story brick building for the first Ford Automobile Agency
Clemency McIlvoy established Arvada’s first park.
1922 Marcello Nicolino erected a the first brick building for his drugstore and grocery store.
1925 Arvada’s first flour mill. It was owned and operated by E. E. Benjamin. His flour was sold at Arva-Pride. The first sack was sold in 1926. The flour mill is still standing.
The first concrete road between Arvada and Denver was completed.
1938 Louis Larsen, an Arvadan, was the railroad engineer who took the first train through the Moffat Tunnel.
1941 The first traffic signal in Jefferson County was installed at Wadsworth and Grandview.
1947 Lloyd King opened his first King Soopers store in Old Towne at West 57th Ave. and Webster St.
1951 Arvada became a city with a population of 2300+.
Contact the Arvada Historical Society for more about the Arvada Colorado History.
For more information about Arvada Colorado Real Estate or homes for sale along the Front Range, call Marilyn Van Steenberg, Dream Home Consultant, Certified Residential Specialist and Eco-Broker.
Specializing in Buyer Representation & Relocation Real Estate Transactions.