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History of
Monte Vista, Colorado

The early history of Monte Vista is unique in that it claims neither single name nor founder.

Its beginnings go back to 1881, when the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad placed a railroad siding named Lariat at a site by the present Fullenwider Park. This siding, with a switch, water tank and section house, was to serve the early settlers from Swede Lane and Rock Creek.

At this time a young widow, Lillian L. Taylor who became Mrs. Charles Fassett in 1882, set up a small general store south of the railroad water tank - it became the L.L. Fassett store.

Other early settlers who came were:  Henry Taylor, who purchased 160 acres from the U.S. Land Office in July, 1882, to homestead the Lariat town site near the new D. & R. G. Railroad track and depot;  Maurice Pelton who acquired this same town site in November, 1882;  and Hiram H. Marsh who homesteaded the area known today as Marsh Park.

Soon a land promoter, Theodore C. Henry, who had been looking for a likely spot for new canal ventures, arrived at the town site and brought excursionists from the east to invest in a new town. Some stayed and some went elsewhere.

Henry also borrowed great sums of money for his land and canal ventures.  Chauncey S. and Henry J. Aldrich, who had come by excursion train to the new western site,  joined Henry to form the Henry Town & Land Co.

Then in February, 1884, the Aldrich brothers purchased the Lariat town site from Maurice Pelton for the Henry Town & Land Co.  This site was the beginning of the new town of Henry, named after the ace promoter.  It was incorporated on May 1, 1884, platted, and building started at once. Each town deed included a no-liquor clause.

Henry had borrowed more money than he could repay and suddenly left town and his debts.

In July, 1885, the Travelers’ Insurance Co. of Hartford Conn. took over the Henry interests. They invested heavily in the new town with land and buildings, compromised with C.S. Aldrich who had lost most of his investments, and made a request for Aldrich and Judge White to rename the town.

By the time of incorporation on July 3, 1886, the town site was replatted and renamed for the mountain vistas surrounding it -- Monte Vista.

Monte Vista has always been known for its fine schools and business houses, along with many fine homes, churches and library.  One of its greatest triumphs was the acquisition, in 1892, of the State Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home (present State Veterans Center).

Ski-Hi Stampede, established in 1919 and held each July at Ski Hi Park, is the oldest Pro Rodeo in Colorado.

Each spring the Crane Festival, a statewide attraction, is held in Monte Vista and nearby Wildlife Refuge.

Many buildings in town have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

But the prosperity of Monte Vista goes back to the water, the abundant crops, the livestock and, from the early pioneers who laid a solid foundation to the present:  a rural community committed to continue as a city of homes, of churches, and of schools.

Submitted by the Monte Vista Historical Society

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