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ARCHIVED  July 1, 1997

Chicago colonists helped build Longmont

LONGMONT — When Longmont began as the Chicago Colony in 1871, it was settled by a group of business people from Chicago and by people who wanted to tame the Wild West with farms and ranches.

Unlike most Western towns, the mix of business and farming was established from the very beginning, and even though Longmont has emerged as a high-tech community, the early farming, ranching, banking and real estate businesses remain strong in its economy today.

The roots of Longmont were firmly planted by a group of influential businessmen in Chicago who decided to create a colony on the Western frontier based on the principles of industry, temperance and morality. The group mapped out the new town with street names of prominent Chicago residents well before a site was selected.

Seth Terry, representing the Chicago colonists, came to Colorado in 1871 and selected a site one mile north of Burlington. It was named Longmont for Long’s Peak. By June 1871, about 400 people had arrived and began working on the town site. The town grew quickly, and 75 Burlington residents, including all the business people, joined the colony and moved many of their buildings to the new town of Longmont. People came from Chicago because the big city was crowded and dirty and they wanted to start a religious community. To settle in Longmont, people had to be members and pay dues to the Chicago-Colony.

Farming was the major occupation, but homes, businesses, churches and schools were built, and many trees were planted. Huge trees lined the main street by the early 1900s, and downtown businesses prospered.

LONGMONT — When Longmont began as the Chicago Colony in 1871, it was settled by a group of business people from Chicago and by people who wanted to tame the Wild West with farms and ranches.

Unlike most Western towns, the mix of business and farming was established from the very beginning, and even though Longmont has emerged as a high-tech community, the early farming, ranching, banking and real estate businesses remain strong in its economy today.

The roots of Longmont were firmly planted by a group of influential businessmen in Chicago who decided to create a colony on the Western frontier…

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