Learn About The History Of Littleton, CO

Littleton, CO offers a charming downtown lined with "turn of the century" buildings that are home to some of the city's unique, privately owned businesses. There are antique shops, art galleries, clothing boutiques, specialty shops, and both quaint and trendy bars and restaurants. Nearby, you can also get to experience the historic agricultural roots of the city at the Littleton Museum, where you will find two very popular working farms. One is from the 1920s and another from the 1860s. Both are complete with horses, chickens, pigs, and oxen, making it a fun tourist and educational outing. However, before diving into the city's attractions and points of interest here's an overview of the history of the city that you need to know.

The Beginnings

The history of Littleton, CO can be traced to the 1859 Pikes Peak gold rush. Along with the gold seekers came farmers and merchants to provide the prerequisites of life. As Denver City's fledgling metropolis started to grow, there arose a need to build a series of tunnels to carry water to businesses and farms without ready access to creeks and rivers in this dry land. Among the many engineers that were hired to carry out this project was Richard Sullivan Little from New Hampshire. The young engineer fell in love with the site of modern-day Littleton after surveying several miles. Upon filing key land claims including a home stake, he went to get his wife Angeline in 1861, the arid climate all but healing her asthmatic condition, and started farming. The family joined with several neighbors to construct the Rough & Ready Flour Mill in 1866, creating a stable economic foundation in the community for many years.


A breakthrough in the history of the city came in 1901 when Arapahoe County was divided into Denver, Arapahoe, Adams, Yuma, and Washington Counties. Then, Littleton was named as the temporary county by the then governor Orman, placing it in a better position to triumph in the 1904 general election over rival Englewood. Gaining the county seat permanently not only brought business and government employees to Littleton but also their support services. The city's place among the towns of Colorado was assured.

Food production

Remained the primary industry of Littleton till after the Second World War. The city started producing pneumatics and electronics, then moved to aerospace, and finally to munitions, and manufacturing became a magnet for the housing development boom during the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It also became the city's most important employer. Littleton added Chatfield Reservoir in 1971 and Arapahoe Community College to further boost its appeal. When the city celebrated its centenary in 1990, it had a population growth of 33,660. By 2015 Littleton's population was 45,103. In 2015 it celebrated 125 years since its founding.

Since the late 1920s

The city has celebrated an annual community celebration called Western Welcome Week. The celebration started in the late 1910s, and from then on, the locals observe it annually. Western Welcome Week activities include over forty events that benefit dozens of local charitable and civic organizations.