Colorado Counties
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Colorado Counties

Colorado currently has sixty-four counties. In February 1866, the first new county, Las Animas, was created. Alamosa was created in 1913, and in 2001, Broomfield was recognized as a city-county, bringing a total of 64 counties.

Gunnison County, Colorado

Gunnison County Education, Geography, and HistoryGunnison County, Colorado Courthouse

Gunnison County is the fifth-most extensive of the 64 counties in the state of Colorado. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 15,324. The county seat is Gunnison. Gunnison County was created on March 9, 1877 from Lake County. The county is named for John W. Gunnison, a United States Army officer and captain in the Army Topographical Engineers, who surveyed for the transcontinental railroad in 1853.

Daniel I.J. Thornton, the Republican governor of Colorado from 1951 to 1955, operated a ranch in Gunnison County. The city of Thornton, Colorado, north of Denver, is named in his honor.

Etymology - Origin of Gunnison County Name

Gunnison County is named in honor of John Williams Gunnison, the US Army captain who explored the region.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Gunnison County History

Gunnison County is located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. It was named after Captain John W. Gunnison, who explored the area with a party of 60 men in 1853. The County boasts of some unusual town names such as Bacon, Citizen, Dinner Station, Old Man's Cabin, Ruby, Pie Plant, Tin Cup and Yule Creek.

The first settlement was Richardson's Colony which was founded in 1874 on the site of present-day Gunnison. It was abandoned shortly thereafter. In 1877 the Ute Indian Agency of Los Pinos was established. In the same year Gunnison County was carved out of Lake County. By 1879 Professor Sylvester Richardson and Colorado Governor John Evans decided to try again and founded the town site of Gunnison. Gunnison became the County Seat and the courthouse was finished in 1880. Pitkin County was founded in 1881, and 2 years later, in 1883 the Counties of Delta, Mesa and Montrose were also established.

Crested Butte was established in 1879 as a coal mining region, but nowadays is a popular ski area and resort town.

The economic base is tourism, skiing, education, mining and ranching. Western State College of Colorado is located in Gunnison. The college has an enrollment of approximately 2,500 students. Gunnison County population was 11, 931 in July 1995.

The town of Marble, located in northern Gunnison County, is the site of the Colorado Yule Marble Company which produced the marble used to build many famous buildings and monuments in America, including the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,260 square miles (8,443 km2), of which, 3,239 square miles (8,388 km2) of it is land and 21 square miles (54 km2) of it (0.64%) is water.

Gunnison county is located in west Colorado. The elevation of the county ranges from 7,000' to 14,000'.  Approximately 85% of Gunnison County is Federal land owned by the United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Curecanti National Recreation Area.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Pitkin County
  • East: Chaffee County
  • Southeast: Saguache County
  • Southwest: Hinsdale County; Ouray County; Montrose County
  • Northwest: Delta County; Mesa County


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