Pueblo Colorado, like many Pueblo area communities, was home to many Native American indigenous groups until the mid-1800s. Due to its strategic location between the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek, it became prime settlement territory for New Mexican and Anglo Settlers, looking for the freedom that could be found in this gateway to the Plains.
PUEBLO AND THE RAILROAD
Railroad speculators, such as William Jackson Palmer knew that the west could not be settled without the railroad and dreamed of a North/South system of rails that would carry goods and people north to Canada and south to Mexico. Palmer and others campaigned to bring the railroad to Pueblo building the area’s first depot in south Pueblo to prepare. They didn’t sit on their laurels and wait for it to arrive, however.
Industrialists got busy constructing the first steel mill, Bessemer furnace, and railyard in the area drawing workers from the East Coast who fell in love with the quiet city with its affordable homes and room to breathe. Thanks to this influx of people, by the 1890s, Pueblo had grown and was on its way to becoming the largest city in Colorado.
PUEBLO AND THE FLOOD
Pueblo continued to boom even as the cost of silver dropped, leaving some residents feeling the pinch, but in 1921 disaster struck. Heavy rains caused the reservoirs along the Arkansas River to fail, leaving the business district under 10 feet of water killing hundreds and changing the course of the Arkansas River forever.
Pueblo was undaunted, however. The city moved the business district to Main Street and rebuilt, riding the second steel boom of the 1920s and, after the Great Depression, a third in the 1940s as the war effort ramped up bringing money and jobs to the area.
THE POST-WAR ERA
After the war, Pueblo continued to grow with an influx of Mexican immigrants who brought their unique culture to the area, as well as an unstoppable work ethic, which fit perfectly with the cities “can-do” spirit. Over the years, Pueblo has faced boom and bust and come out of it stronger providing residents from Pueblo to Pueblo with access to a thriving artistic center, affordable housing, and big city amenities without losing the small-town feel that residents love so much. Pueblo is known for the production of green chiles, particularly pueblo chiles. Fittingly, the city holds the annual Pueblo Chile Festival to celebrate its most popular crop.
MORE FROM PERKINS MOTORS
This brief history is just a taste of what the Pueblo region offers. Check out our city pages for more on the best brunch in Denver, things to do on a day trip, learn about child car safety, or just learn about the Jeep Cherokee’s new features and plan a day out in an SUV like no other.