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Pueblo City & County, Colorado

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Official City Website

Official County Website

Adjacent Counties

Cities, Towns & Communities

  • Avondale
  • Beulah Valley
  • Blende
  • Boone
  • Colorado City
  • Pueblo
  • Pueblo West
  • Rye
  • Salt Creek
  • Vineland

The City of Pueblo

James Beckwourth, George Simpson, and other trappers such as Mathew Kinkead, claimed to have helped construct the plaza that became known as El Pueblo around 1842. According to accounts of residents who traded at the plaza (including that of George Simpson), the Fort Pueblo Massacre happened sometime between December 23 and December 25, 1854, by a war party of Utes and Jicarilla Apaches under the leadership of Tierra Blanca, a Ute chief. They allegedly killed between fifteen and nineteen men, as well as captured two children and one woman. The trading post was abandoned after the raid, but it became important again between 1858 and 1859 during the Colorado Gold Rush of 1859.

The current city of Pueblo represents the consolidation of four towns: Pueblo (incorporated 1870), South Pueblo (incorporated 1873), Central Pueblo (incorporated 1882), and Bessemer (incorporated 1886). Pueblo, South Pueblo, and Central Pueblo legally consolidated as the City of Pueblo between March 9 and April 6, 1886. Bessemer joined Pueblo in 1894.

The consolidated city became a major economic and social center of Colorado, and was home to important early Colorado families such as the Thatchers, the Ormans, and the Adams. By the early 1870s the city was being hailed as a beacon of development, with newspapers like the Chicago Tribune boasting of how the region's lawless reputation was giving way to orderly agriculture with triumphalist rhetoric. One author crowed of Pueblo that "the necessity exists no longer for Sharp's rifles and revolvers. These have been supplied by the plow and the mowing-machine."

Pueblo's development stretched beyond agriculture. Steel emerged as a key industry very early, and in 1909 the city was considered the only steel town west of the Mississippi River.

Until a series of major floods culminated in the Great Flood of 1921, Pueblo was considered the 'Saddle-Making capital of the World'. Roughly one-third of Pueblo's downtown businesses were lost in this flood, along with a substantial number of buildings. Pueblo struggled with this significant loss, but has had a resurgence in growth.

Pueblo's orphanages were an influential part of the city. The transformations that have occurred throughout the three orphanages in the town of Pueblo, Colorado are important aspects of the city's history. Historically, many people were influenced by the Orphanages of Pueblo, Colorado and the homes are now all historical sites. The transformations have occurred architecturally and economically within the people from then to now. The three orphanages in Pueblo were known as Sacred Heart, Lincoln, and McClelland. Lincoln was the first historically black orphanage in Colorado, and one of only seven in the country. Sacred Heart was run by the Catholic Welfare Bureau, while McClelland was run by the Lutheran Church. Several children from Cuba were placed at Sacred Heart as part of "Operation Pedro Pan". Though the Orphanages in Pueblo are no longer in service, the buildings still exist and have transformed with the times. According to the Rocky Mountain News, in 1988 the Sacred Heart Orphanage was bought by the Pueblo Housing Authority and turned into 40 small-family housing units.

The main industry in Pueblo for most of its history was the Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF&I) Steel Mill on the south side of town. For nearly a century the CF&I was the largest employer in the state of Colorado. The steel-market crash of 1982 led to the decline of the company. After several bankruptcies, the company was acquired by Oregon Steel Mills and changed its name to Rocky Mountain Steel Mills. The company was plagued with labor problems, mostly due to accusations of unfair labor practices. This culminated with a major strike in 1997, leading to most of the workforce being replaced.

In September 2004, both United Steelworkers locals 2102 and 3267 won the strike and the unfair labor practice charges. All of the striking steel workers returned to their jobs, and the company paid them the back pay owed for the seven years they were on strike. In 2007, shortly after Oregon Steel made amends with the union and its workers, Evraz Group, one of Russia's biggest steel producers, agreed to buy the company for $2.3 billion.

Of the many production and fabrication mills that once existed on the site, only the steel production (electric furnaces, used for scrap recycling), rail, rod, bar, and seamless tube mills are still in operation. The wire mill was sold in the late 1990s to Davis Wire, which still produces products such as fence and nails under the CF&I brand name.

The facility operated blast furnaces until 1982, when the steel market collapsed. The main blast furnace structures were torn down in 1989, but due to asbestos content, many of the adjacent stoves still remain.

Several of the administration buildings, including the main office building, dispensary, and tunnel gatehouse were purchased in 2003 by the Bessemer Historical Society. In 2006, they underwent renovation. In addition to housing the historic CF&I Archives, they also house the Steelworks Museum of Industry and Culture.

Due to the growth of the CF&I steel mill and the employment that it offered, Pueblo in the early twentieth century attracted a large number of immigrant laborers. The groups represented led to Pueblo becoming the most ethnically and culturally diverse city in Colorado and the West. At one point, more than 40 languages were spoken in the steel mill and more than two-dozen foreign language newspapers were published in the city. Irish, Italian, German, Slovenian, Greek, Jewish, Lithuanian, Russian, Hungarian, Japanese, and black groups arrived in the area at the turn of the century and remain to the present time. The convergence of cultures led to a cosmopolitan character to the city that resulted in a number of ethnically-rooted neighborhoods that are typically not seen west of the Mississippi. Respective cultural groups maintain cultural festivals to the present, with the city being home to locations of the Order Sons of Italy, American Slovenian Catholic Union, and I.O.O.F., among others.

Another major employer in Pueblo is the Colorado State Hospital. The hospital is the preeminent mental health facility in the Rocky Mountain region. Established in 1879 as the Colorado State Insane Asylum, it was renamed as the Colorado State Hospital in 1917. In 1991, the name was changed to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP). The Robert L. Hawkins High Security Forensic Institute opened in June 2009 and is a 200-bed, high-security facility.

Pueblo is the hometown of four Medal of Honor recipients (more than any other municipality in the United States) - William J. Crawford, Carl L. Sitter, Raymond G. Murphy, and Drew D. Dix. President Dwight D. Eisenhower upon presenting Raymond G. "Jerry" Murphy with his medal in 1953 commented, "What is it... something in the water out there in Pueblo? All you guys turn out to be heroes!"

In 1993, Pueblo City Council adopted the tagline "Home of Heroes" for the city due to the fact that Pueblo can claim more recipients of the Medal per capita than any other city in the United States. On July 1, 1993, the Congressional Record recognized Pueblo as the "Home of Heroes." A memorial to the recipients of the medal is at the Pueblo Convention Center.

Links

Pueblo County Wiki

Pueblo City Wiki

San Isabel National Forest

Greenhorn Mtn. Wilderness

American Discovery Trail

Frontier Pathways Nat'l Scenic & Historic Byway

Nat'l Reg. of Hist. Places

Drone Tour of Pueblo