The 1860s


January 2, 1860

First county election held under provisional Jefferson Territory: Golden City selected as county seat; sheriff, clerk and recorder, and county judge elected.

January 9, 1860

First school in Jefferson County opens - the Golden City school - in a rented cabin at present-day 1304 Washington Avenue

January 14, 1860

Golden Gate City plat recorded

January 16, 1860

Golden City Masonic lodge, one of the first Masonic organizations in Colorado, established

April 6, 1860

First post office established at Golden City with Dr. Isaac E Hardy as postmaster

August 26, 1860

All time hottest temperature in Jefferson County of 104 degrees recorded in Golden City

September 1, 1860

The People's Court organized to address criminal matters in the district

October 6, 1860

Birth of Charles L. Palmer, reputedly the first child of gold rush settlers to be born in Jefferson County. He serves as County Commissioner 1902 to 1909.

October 15, 1860

First major forest fire in Jefferson County. Burns for two months, charring Bear Creek, Turkey Creek and Mount Vernon canyons, and the whole of Green Mountain

November 22, 1860

Golden City becomes capital of Jefferson Territory


Three mining districts form and operate in central Jefferson County to administer extra legal law. Bergen (Bergen Park), Junction (Conifer), and Mt. Vernon (Mt. Vernon Canyon) Districts, then combined under the leadership of Thomas Bergen to form short-lived Ni-Wot County.

February 28, 1861

Congress combines pieces of Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, and New Mexico to create the Territory of Colorado. William Gilpin appointed governor.

November 1, 1861

Jefferson County is reorganized to become one of the original 17 counties created by Colorado Territorial Legislature

November 16, 1861

Original Jefferson County Commissioners, John M. Ferrell, Spafford C. Field and George H. Richardson (appointed by Gov. William Gilpin), meet to organize upcoming county election. Original five districts of Jefferson County created.

November 19, 1861

Major windstorm damages 25 buildings in Golden City

December 7, 1861

Election of county officers, including the first elected Board of County Commissioners


January 6, 1862

Newly elected County officials assume office

April 1862

Jefferson County Commissioners reorganize county internally from five districts to the current three

June 20, 1862

First county and school taxes levied by Jefferson County Commissioners

June 21, 1862

First jail in Jefferson County built by Walter Pollard

August 14, 1862

Golden City becomes capitol of the Territory of Colorado, remains so until 1867


Henry Stevens, the first recorded homesteader in Jefferson County under the 1863 Homestead Act, builds his cabin at the current site of 44th and Teller streets in Wheat Ridge

June 1, 1863

Locust plague hits the area, devastating everything in its wake


Rooney Ranch established


April 18, 1864

David Barnes establishes the first flour mill in Jefferson County upon Bear Creek

May 14, 1864

First devastating flood in Jefferson County. It starts in Deer, Bear, Coal, and Mount Vernon Creeks, drowning thousands of sheep and 19 people in the South Platte. Flood wipes out all bridges on Clear Creek, compelling citizens to use ferries.


  • Colorado's first railway company, the Colorado Central Railroad Company, incorporated by William A.H. Loveland in Golden City
  • Rooney Ranch main house completed

February 9, 1865

Colorado and Clear Creek Railroad Company established

August 5, 1865

First Baptist Church chapel, first church building in Golden, dedicated at the SW corner of present-day 12th and Jackson Streets


  • Jefferson County has a population of 1,782; Gilpin County has four times that
  • The Loveland Building, one of the first brick buildings in Golden, is completed
  • Clay mining begins in Golden with brick making at the Golden Brickworks

December 19, 1866

George West prints the first edition of his newspaper, the Colorado Transcript (now Golden Transcript) in Golden City


  • Territorial capital moves from Golden City to Denver City
  • Astor House in Golden is built
  • Last documented encampment of Arapaho tribe, led by Chief Friday, in Jefferson County
  • Golden Paper Mills, only paper mill west of Missouri, established at Golden City, making paper from recycled rags and straw


January 1, 1868

Golden City celebrates the ground breaking for the first railroad construction in Colorado, by the Colorado Central Railroad Company

April 8, 1868

Transcript forced to print its newspaper on yellow wrapping paper due to a severe paper shortage

July 23, 1868

General Ulysses S Grant visits Golden City with fellow generals Sherman and Sheridan


May 19, 1869

Eliza West (George West's wife) debuted her weekly column "Home Department" in the Transcript under the pen name Kate Warrenton