Greeley was established in 1870 by members of the Union Colony of Colorado. Nathan Meeker, the agricultural editor of Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, wrote a passionate article looking for settlers. People were looking for new adventures; over 3000 people responded. Meeker chose about 700 to be part of the new colony and they each paid approximately $155 to be a part of the experiment. Most of the investors were also going to be the first settlers. The Civil War had been over for five years, Ulysses Grant was President and Colorado would not be a state for 6 more years.
Meeker was attracted to the scenic beauty and pure environment of the Rocky Mountains, which he felt would be ideal for setting up a community based on temperance, religion, education, agriculture, irrigation, cooperation, and family values. Substantial agriculture gave the city the title, “The Garden Spot of the West.” Around the 1900s, sugar beet production was introduced, bringing further prosperity to Greeley. Many Germans from Russia and Japanese immigrants were employed as laborers on the beet farms. These immigrants brought further culture and diversity to the community.
Looking to learn more about the history of Colorado? We’ve got you covered with this itinerary for History Buffs. Curated by Visit Greeley’s board member, Sarah Saxe, Greeley’s Museum Manager.
Start your morning at Aunt Helen’s Coffee House for coffee and a treat. Located in Downtown Greeley, Aunt Helen’s will connect you to our community by offering an exceptional, warm and ‘sassy’ experience. After enjoying your morning coffee, go down the block to the Greeley History Museum housed in the building originally built in 1929 for the Greeley Tribune, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Greeley History Museum showcases and preserves Greeley and Weld County’s history. Check out the museum’s main exhibit, “Utopia: Adaptation on the Plains,” visitors can explore the history of Greeley, including the formation of the Union Colony, the area’s agricultural heritage, water usage, and growth over time. Then head over to one of the museum’s other galleries, which include updated themes throughout the year, to see their current exhibitions, hours of operation and admission rates, check out their website. At the Greeley History Museum, artifacts, photographs and hands-on opportunities create a meaningful visitor experience. In addition to exhibits, the lower level of the museum contains the Hazel E. Johnson Research Center, which has an impressive collection of documentary and photographic resources available for researchers, students and genealogists. On your way out, don’t forget to pick up a few souvenirs at the gift shop.
After a morning filled with learning about Greeley and Weld County’s history, head over to the Sherpa Grill for a delicious Indian Nepali lunch. Then comb through the bookshelves at the Midnight Oil. At The Midnight Oil, find a community of book lovers and enjoy a truly unique experience as they team up with various local businesses. While downtown, continue to wonder through other shops until it’s time for a cocktail and tapas at the Speakeasy. Enter as though you’re going to the Kress theater but instead go down the steps. Flick the light switch on! Someone will come grab you to go in, but shhh it’s a secret. Then head upstairs to catch a movie at Greeley’s only independent movie theater. Located in downtown Greeley’s historically renovated Kress Building, the theater takes advantage of the high, decorative plaster ceilings to create a large viewing space with historic ambiance. Customers are able to dine and enjoy beverages in the theater during a movie as well as in the lounges at anytime.
Head to Centennial Village Museum bright and early to spend the day exploring the grounds. Centennial Village Museum is a living history experience that features over 35 historical buildings, costumed interpreters, heritage farm animals, and 8-acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. Visitors step back in time and learn about the settling of the western high plains, a time when grand houses, growing businesses, extensive prairies and agriculture were all a part of daily life.
Opened during the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, Centennial Village Museum preserves and interprets American western heritage in the Colorado high plains region over the last 150 years. Some of Weld County’s oldest structures are located in this museum.
Take a house tour, watch the blacksmith make nails, see how a printing press operates, and spend time with the heritage farm animals. Then enjoy a picnic lunch at the Village under a shady tree.
Later in the day, take a break at Weldwerks while you enjoy a tasty brew (or two). With over 100+ unique brews with a wide array of styles, from classic lagers and hazy IPA’s to huge imperial stouts, heavily fruited sours, and beyond, you’re sure to find something you like! All their beers are produced in our Downtown Greeley. Next stop, dinner at Gourmet Grub, a casual fine dining restaurant serving New American-style cuisine. They offer an upscale, modern décor with a family-friendly feel and serve dishes from around the world. To us “Gourmet Grub” simply means making dishes that everyone knows and loves “grub” and adding a “gourmet” flare to it.
That’s just a short list to get you started as you explore historical experiences blended with Greeley’s nuanced food scene. Inspire your curiosity and uncover the history of Greeley!
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