Walsenburg, Colorado
La Plaza de los Leones (Plaza of the Leons)
City of Walsenburg[1]
Walsenburg with the Spanish Peaks in the background.
Walsenburg with the Spanish Peaks in the background.
"A great place to be! Welcome!"
Location of the City of Walsenburg in Huerfano County, Colorado.
Location of the City of Walsenburg in Huerfano County, Colorado.
Walsenburg is located in the United States
Location of the City of Walsenburg in the United States.
Coordinates: 37°37′36″N 104°47′2″W / 37.62667°N 104.78389°W / 37.62667; -104.78389Coordinates: 37°37′36″N 104°47′2″W / 37.62667°N 104.78389°W / 37.62667; -104.78389
Country United States
State Colorado
CountyHuerfano County[2]
IncorporatedJune 16, 1873[3]
Named forFred Walsen
 • TypeStatutory City[1]
 • MayorCharles Bryant[4]
 • City administratorGaye Davis[5]
 • City councilNick Vigil
Rick Jennings (mayor pro-tem)
Carmen J. Lara
Charles Bryant (mayor)
Greg Daniels
Don Martinez
Veronica Maes[4]
 • City clerkStephanie Barr
 • Total2.99 sq mi (7.74 km2)
 • Land2.99 sq mi (7.74 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation6,171 ft (1,881 m)
 • Total3,049
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,000/sq mi (390/km2)
Time zoneUTC−7 (Mountain (MST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−6 (MDT)
ZIP code[9]
Area code719
FIPS code08-82350
GNIS feature ID0204806

The City of Walsenburg is the Statutory City that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Huerfano County, Colorado, United States.[10][11] The city population was 3,049 at the 2020 census,[12] down from 3,068 in 2010.


Walsenburg was originally settled under the name of La Plaza de los Leones in 1859. The settlement was named after settler Don Miguel Antonio de Leon, who came along with others from New Mexico. A post office called Walsenburg has been in operation since 1870.[13] The community was named after Fred Walsen, an early settler.[14] Robert Ford, the assassin of outlaw Jesse James, operated a combination saloon and gambling house in Walsenburg; his home at 320 West 7th Street still stands.[citation needed] The town is also remembered in sports history due to a famous newspaper gaffe ("Will Overhead") after the 1933 Indianapolis 500.[15][16][17]

Colorado Coalfield War

Main article: Colorado Coalfield War

Walsenburg played a central role in the 1913-1914 Strike of the United Mine Workers of America against the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron, an event better known as the Colorado Coalfield War. The town was the site of a Colorado and Southern Railway stop and location of several gun-battles before and after the 20 April 1914 Ludlow Massacre that killed over a dozen women and children when Colorado National Guard opened fire on a striker encampment at Ludlow, 22 miles south of Walsenburg. Among the first instances of violence in Walsenburg during the coal strikes is known as the Seventh Street Massacre, which saw three miners died in a shooting perpetrated by newly minted Walsenburg deputies.[18]

The Battle of Walsenburg (28-29 April 1914) was the penultimate engagement of National Guard and militia against pro-strikers during the 10-Day War stage of the conflict.[19] Several men on both sides, as well as at least one uninvolved civilian, were killed before strikers withdrew.

Walsenburg is mentioned in the Woody Guthrie song "Ludlow Massacre".[20]

21st Century

On 19 June 2013, Boy Scouts at Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch noticed an uncontrolled fire near East Spanish Peak which rapidly grew over the next few days, growing into the East Peak Fire. The entirety of Walsenburg was placed under a pre-evacuation notice. The fire burned 13,572 acres (54.92 km2) and was contained on July 9th.[21]

Geography and climate

Walsenburg is located in east-central Huerfano County, on the north side of the Cucharas River, at the eastern edge of the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Interstate 25 runs along the eastern edge of the city, with access from Exits 49, 50, and 52. I-25 leads north 48 miles (77 km) to Pueblo and south 36 miles (58 km) to Trinidad. U.S. Route 160 passes through the center of Walsenburg, leading west across North La Veta Pass 72 miles (116 km) to Alamosa and south with I-25 to Trinidad. Colorado State Highway 10 leads northeast from Walsenburg 73 miles (117 km) to La Junta.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Walsenburg has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.2 km2), all of it land.[12]

The Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center is located 2 miles (3 km) west of Walsenburg on US 160, opposite the entrance to Lathrop State Park. The building houses a state-operated veterans' retirement home and a community hospital that serves the area.

Walsenburg has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with hot, rainy summers with cool nights and cool snowy winters with chilly nights.

Climate data for Walsenburg, Colorado (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 48.9
Average low °F (°C) 22.3
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.84
Average snowfall inches (cm) 12.7
Source: NOAA[22]

Local attractions and recreation

Lathrop State Park, located 2 miles (3 km) west of the Walsenburg city limits, is Colorado's first state park and is over 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) in size. Martin Lake and Horseshoe Lake offer fishing stocked by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, water skiing, boating, and jet skiing. Hiking and camping are other activities in the park, and it is the only state park in Colorado with a golf course.[citation needed]

The Spanish Peaks, 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Walsenburg are a national landmark and have been named one of "Colorado's Seven Wonders" by The Denver Post. The Highway of Legends, connecting Walsenburg with La Veta, other historic mining towns, and Trinidad, is a National Scenic Byway.

The Walsenburg Golf Course is a 9-hole public golf course open for play year round. The city opened a $2 million water park, "Walsenburg Wild Waters", after efforts by former mayor Maurice Brau and the City Council, on May 27, 2007.[23]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[24]

As of the census[25] of 2000, there were 4,182 people, 1,497 households, and 881 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,795.2 inhabitants per square mile (693.1/km2). There were 1,723 housing units at an average density of 739.6 per square mile (285.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.99% White, 4.78% African American, 3.35% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 12.46% from other races, and 3.95% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 50.96% of the population.

There were 1,497 households, out of which 25.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.1% were non-families. 37.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 20.9% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 133.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 141.1 males.


John Mall High School is the local high school. It is the only high school in Huerfano District Re-1. In the 2021–2022 school year,[26] there was a total enrollment of 137 students. 56% of the enrollment was male and 44% was female. There was a student-to-teacher ratio of 27:1, which is higher than the Colorado state average of 15:1. 66% of the student body identified as a minority, with most of them being Hispanic. The state average of minority enrollment is 48%. The graduation rate[26] ranges from 70-79%, which is lower than the state average of 80%.

Notable people

Notable individuals who were born in or have lived in Walsenburg include:

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Active Colorado Municipalities". State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Local Government. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  2. ^ "Colorado Counties". State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Local Government. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  3. ^ "Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. 2004-12-01. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  4. ^ a b Orr, Brian (December 9, 2021). "Walsenburg swears in new mayor, city council". Huerfano World Journal. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
  5. ^ Mullins, E. E. (July 21, 2022). "No surprise, Walsenburg City Council selects Gaye Davis as interim city administrator in mixed vote". Huerfano World Journal. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  6. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  7. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  8. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  9. ^ "ZIP Code Lookup". United States Postal Service. Archived from the original (JavaScript/HTML) on 2010-11-22. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  10. ^ "Colorado County Seats". State of Colorado, Department of Public Health and Environment. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
  11. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  12. ^ a b "Decennial Census P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data". United States Census Bureau, United States Department of Commerce. August 12, 2021. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  13. ^ "Post offices". Jim Forte Postal History. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  14. ^ Dawson, John Frank (1954). Place Names in Colorado: Why 700 Communities Were So Named, 150 of Spanish or Indian Origin. Denver, CO: J. Frank Dawson Publishing Co. p. 51.
  15. ^ "Will Overhead, a real no-name, once 'won' Indy 500 race". Wilmington Morning Star. May 23, 1983. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  16. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley. May 5, 2003. 1070 WIBC-AM.
  17. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley. May 12, 2008. WFNI.
  18. ^ McGovern, George; Guttridge, Leonard. The Great Coalfield War. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1972. 125-126 p.
  19. ^ McGovern & Guttridge, 266.
  20. ^ Mintz, S.; McNeill, S. (2018). ""Ludlow Massacre" By Woody Guthrie". Digital History. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  21. ^ "East Peak Fire fully contained, but not fully controlled". TheDenverChannel.com. 2013-07-09. Archived from the original on 2013-07-12. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  22. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  23. ^ Ree, Dorothy Rose (2006). Walsenburg, crossroads town: a history (1st ed.). Walsenburg, Colorado: Nocturn Independent Publishing. ISBN 9780984657216.
  24. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved 2019-07-21.
  25. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  26. ^ a b "John Mall High School Profile | Walsenburg, Colorado (CO)". www.publicschoolreview.com. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  27. ^ Peri, Don (2011). Working with Disney: Interviews with Animators, Producers, and Artists. Oxford, MS: University of Mississippi Press. pp. 86–98.
  28. ^ Mestas, Anthony A. (2014-11-26). "Man who shot Jesse James well-known in these parts". The Pueblo Chieftain. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  29. ^ "Debora Greger". Academy of American Poets. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  30. ^ "Martinez, Matthew Gilbert, (1929-2011)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. U.S. Congress. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  31. ^ Members of the Assembly. Wisconsin Blue Book. 1954. Retrieved 2014-03-18.
  32. ^ "Roy Porter". The Last Post. Jazzhouse.org. Retrieved 2016-06-17.