Westminster, Co. and the area surrounding it was inhabited by small herds of buffalo and antelope and was dotted with small marshy ponds, prior to the 1850's. There is strong evidence that the Arapaho Indians maintained a semipermanent encampment in the vicinity of Gregory Hill.
The discovery of gold on Little Dry Creek in 1858 encouraged pioneers to settle in Colorado rather than continue on to the promise of riches in California. The Homestead Act of 1862 also brought many people from the east to settle in the Colorado Territory. The first permanent settler to build his home in Westminster was Pleasant DeSpain. In 1870, he built his home on 160 acres of farmland near the intersection of 76th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard. He and his five sons planted grain and apple and cherry orchards. The village of DeSpain Junction grew into a small farming community and continued to attract new settlers. The merchants that came to the small village reflected the needs of the farmers and ranchers of the area: blacksmith shop, lumber store, and general store. The railroad came to DeSpain Junction in 1881 and Edward Bowles was instrumental in the construction of the train depot.
Many of the homesteaders found farming in Colorado's arid climate to be much more difficult than they had experienced in the midwest and the east. For this reason, they sold their land to C.J. Harris, a real estate developer from Connecticut who arrived in DeSpain Junction in 1885. He subdivided the farms he bought into smaller tracts of land which he then sold to fruit farmers. The Harris house can be seen at 7996 Bradburn Blvd. At his request, and with Pleasant DeSpain's permission, the town was renamed Harris, but was also known as Harris Park. In 1911, Harris voted to incorporate as a city. At that time, the name was changed from Harris to Westminster, in honor of Westminster University.
Region: Metro Denver Area Regional Information
Proximity to other towns: Located 13.6 miles from Denver, 4.1 miles from Broomfield, 5.2 miles from Arvada, 5.4 miles from Northglenn
Elevation: 5300 feet
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