Montezuma County
The Montezuma County Combined Courts building in Cortez
The Montezuma County Combined Courts building in Cortez
Map of Colorado highlighting Montezuma County
Location within the U.S. state of Colorado
Map of the United States highlighting Colorado
Colorado's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 37°20′N 108°36′W / 37.34°N 108.6°W / 37.34; -108.6
Country United States
State Colorado
FoundedApril 16, 1889
Named forMoctezuma II
SeatCortez
Largest cityCortez
Area
 • Total2,040 sq mi (5,300 km2)
 • Land2,030 sq mi (5,300 km2)
 • Water11 sq mi (30 km2)  0.5%%
Population
 • Estimate 
(2020)
25,849
 • Density13/sq mi (5/km2)
Time zoneUTC−7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district3rd
Websitemontezumacounty.org
Prehistoric petroglyphs in Mesa Verde National Park
Castle, Hovenweep National Monument

Montezuma County is the southwesternmost of the 64 counties in the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2020 census, the population was 25,849.[1] The county seat is Cortez.[2]

Mesa Verde National Park, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Yucca House National Monument, and Hovenweep National Monument preserve hundreds of ancient Amerindian structures, including the famous cliff-dwellings, found in the county. Montezuma County is also home to most of the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation, home of the Weeminuche Band of the Ute Nation, known as the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, with its headquarters at Towaoc.

History

Montezuma County has been settled since approximately AD 600, and had an estimated population of approximately 100,000, four times its current population, in the 12th century. However, a series of events caused virtually all permanent settlements to be abandoned between 1200 and 1300, and the area was contested between nomadic Ute and Navajo bands until resettlement occurred in the 1870s. Montezuma County was created out of the western portion of La Plata County by the Colorado Legislature in April 1889. It was named in honor of Moctezuma II, who reigned as emperor of the Aztec Empire in Mexico during its decline at the hands of the Spanish invasion. The building ruins in Mesa Verde National Park were thought to be of Aztec origin at the time.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,040 square miles (5,300 km2), of which 2,030 square miles (5,300 km2) is land and 11 square miles (28 km2) (0.5%) is water.[3]

A large county, roughly 1/3 of its area is tribal land, 1/3 is federal land (administered by the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management), and 1/3 private or state/county land. It is also varied topographically, ranging in elevation from about 6,000 feet (1,800 m) to more than 13,200 feet (4,000 m), and from high Colorado Plateau desert to alpine tundra. The county has the second largest reservoir in Colorado, McPhee Reservoir, many other large reservoirs, and hundreds of private lakes and ponds. Much of the county is irrigated cropland, and it produces fruit, large numbers of cattle and sheep, and beans. It is served by U.S. Highways 160 and 491 (formerly US 666), and by Cortez Municipal Airport. It has no rail service, although both Mancos and Dolores were established as railroad towns in the 1890s.

Adjacent counties

Sign on U.S. Route 491 marking the border with Dolores County
Sign on U.S. Route 491 marking the border with Dolores County

Montezuma County is the only county in the United States to border three counties with the same name in three different states (San Juan County in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah). The "border" with San Juan County, Colorado, is, however, only a point of zero length.

Major Highways

National protected areas

Montezuma County includes the Colorado section of the Four Corners Monument.
Montezuma County includes the Colorado section of the Four Corners Monument.

State protected area

Other protected area

Trails and byways

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
18901,529
19003,058100.0%
19105,02964.5%
19206,26024.5%
19307,79824.6%
194010,46334.2%
19509,991−4.5%
196014,02440.4%
197012,952−7.6%
198016,51027.5%
199018,76213.6%
200023,83027.0%
201025,5357.2%
202025,8491.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[4]
1790-1960[5] 1900-1990[6]
1990-2000[7] 2010-2020[1]

As of the census[8] of 2000, there were 23,830 people, 9,201 households, and 6,514 families residing in the county. The population density was 12 people per square mile (5/km2). There were 10,497 housing units at an average density of 5 per square mile (2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 81.72% White, 0.14% Black or African American, 11.23% Native American, 0.20% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 4.26% from other races, and 2.38% from two or more races. 9.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 9,201 households, out of which 33.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.40% were married couples living together, 10.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.20% were non-families. 24.60% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 27.50% under the age of 18, 7.10% from 18 to 24, 26.30% from 25 to 44, 25.30% from 45 to 64, and 13.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 96.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $32,083, and the median income for a family was $38,071. Males had a median income of $30,666 versus $21,181 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,003. About 13.10% of families and 16.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.20% of those under age 18 and 14.40% of those age 65 or over.

Communities

Mancos, Colorado Opera House 2009
Mancos, Colorado Opera House 2009

City

Towns

Census-designated places

Other unincorporated places

Politics

In its early history Montezuma County favored the Democratic Party. It was one of the few counties in the West to be won by Alton B. Parker in 1904, and along with neighboring La Plata County was one of only two Colorado counties to give a plurality to John W. Davis in the three-way 1924 election. However, since the 1940s Montezuma has been a strongly Republican county: no Democrat since 1968 has won over forty percent of the county's vote in a Presidential election. Recently (28 July 2020), the county government has openly endorsed viewpoints described as far-right[specify] by posting web links under a "News" banner on the official county web page. These links have since been removed after community members[who?] objected to partisan positions on the county website.

United States presidential election results for Montezuma County, Colorado[9]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 9,306 60.04% 5,836 37.65% 358 2.31%
2016 7,853 61.07% 3,973 30.90% 1,032 8.03%
2012 7,401 60.08% 4,542 36.87% 375 3.04%
2008 6,961 58.87% 4,661 39.42% 203 1.72%
2004 6,988 63.44% 3,867 35.11% 160 1.45%
2000 6,158 65.62% 2,556 27.24% 670 7.14%
1996 4,175 53.31% 2,578 32.92% 1,078 13.77%
1992 3,124 40.90% 2,270 29.72% 2,244 29.38%
1988 4,208 64.23% 2,233 34.09% 110 1.68%
1984 4,753 73.06% 1,665 25.59% 88 1.35%
1980 4,120 68.60% 1,467 24.43% 419 6.98%
1976 3,002 57.99% 1,993 38.50% 182 3.52%
1972 3,391 73.49% 1,223 26.51% 0 0.00%
1968 2,461 56.42% 1,349 30.93% 552 12.65%
1964 2,035 42.95% 2,686 56.69% 17 0.36%
1960 2,778 56.69% 2,115 43.16% 7 0.14%
1956 2,492 63.59% 1,402 35.77% 25 0.64%
1952 2,466 68.01% 1,127 31.08% 33 0.91%
1948 1,630 49.20% 1,653 49.89% 30 0.91%
1944 1,610 56.99% 1,207 42.73% 8 0.28%
1940 2,313 59.25% 1,573 40.29% 18 0.46%
1936 1,087 38.89% 1,579 56.49% 129 4.62%
1932 887 31.84% 1,779 63.85% 120 4.31%
1928 1,341 62.37% 772 35.91% 37 1.72%
1924 703 34.58% 721 35.46% 609 29.96%
1920 936 52.20% 727 40.55% 130 7.25%
1916 425 21.60% 1,458 74.09% 85 4.32%
1912 285 15.89% 1,017 56.69% 492 27.42%


In gubernatorial elections, Montezuma County is also Republican-leaning: in 2010 it was along with neighboring Dolores County one of only two counties to give a plurality to Dan Maes.[10] The last Democratic gubernatorial nominee to win Montezuma County was Roy Romer in 1990 when he carried all but four counties statewide.[11] The last Democratic senatorial candidate to carry Montezuma County was Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell – later to switch to the Republican Party – in 1992.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 5, 2021.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  4. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  5. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  6. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  7. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  8. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  9. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  10. ^ Dave Leip’s U.S. Election Atlas; 2010 Gubernatorial General Election Results – Colorado
  11. ^ Dave Leip’s U.S. Election Atlas; 1990 Gubernatorial General Election Results – Colorado

Coordinates: 37°20′N 108°36′W / 37.34°N 108.60°W / 37.34; -108.60

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