If you’ve lived in Greeley or elsewhere in Northern Colorado for a while, you probably know the basic facts about Greeley: its population, its agricultural roots, the annual events its known for, and some of the city’s most beloved local businesses.
But there are a few interesting, lesser-known facts you may not know about this growing Colorado town! For instance, did you know that Greeley once produced a quarter of the sugar in the United States? Or that the city has an odor hotline? Read on to learn more fun and interesting facts about Greeley!
Maybe it’s the unique blend of country and city living. Or the combination of nearby mountains and the ever-present sunshine. But people in Greeley are just a little happier. In fact, Greeley was ranked as the 15th happiest city in the country by 24/7 Wall St a few years back! Here’s what they had to say about Greeley: “Greeley residents report having a strong sense of purpose. Approximately 82% of surveyed residents enjoy what they do every day, and 76% believe they are able to use their strengths to the best of their ability in daily life, compared to 77% and 69% of Americans, respectively.”
If you have a lawn or garden, you appreciate the ingenuity of the modern-day sprinkler system — especially here in Colorado, where the sun beats down on our plants and grass all day long during the summer. And we especially appreciate fire sprinklers, which protect our businesses and homes from being destroyed by fire. You have Greeley to partially thank for this invention! In 1864, fire sprinklers were invented in the United Kingdom and were further developed in 1874 by Henry Parmelee in Greeley. He wanted to make sure nothing happened to his piano factory in case a fire broke out.
Photo Courtesy of Marjaliisa [CC BY-SA]
The pace of life is just a bit slower in Greeley, where thriving neighborhoods back to rural farmland. To protect this laid-back way of life, Greeley is not located along a major interstate. In fact, it is the largest community not located along the interstate highways. This was a deliberate decision, as to not waste precious farmland in exchange for convenience.
If you’ve lived in the region for a while, you’re well aware of Greeley’s reputation for its unique aroma due to meatpacking plants. However, you would be pleased to know that the city has taken major steps to eliminate this concern with new zoning and other initiatives. Plus, they have set up an “odor hotline” for locals to call in and report any stinky experiences. Overall, the stench happens less often and when it does, it is addressed accordingly. The Odor Hotline is 970-350-9831 and can be reached between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Get more information here.
Living in Greeley is pretty sweet — literally. For decades, Greeley has been the agricultural center of the sugar beet industry, and in the height of its production in the 1920s, the city manufactured an impressive one-fourth of all sugar sold and consumed in the United States. For more interesting facts about Weld County’s agricultural past, click here!
Greeley was named after Horace Greeley, a politician and editor of the New York Tribune. He came to Colorado in 1859 during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush and is known for popularizing the phrase “Go west, young man.” The town was originally founded in 1869 as “the Union Colony,” an experimental utopian society “based on temperance, religion, agriculture, education and family values” by Nathan C. Meeker, a newspaper reporter from New York City. The name was later changed to Greeley and became an official city on April 6, 1886.
Greeley made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2015 for the “Longest Continuous Chalk Art Drawing!” The community came together to create a chalk drawing that measured 18,761 feet — or 1.5 miles. It was made to pay tribute to the city’s rich history of cultural, artistic and creative endeavors with the theme of “Celebrating Nature.”
Greeley is consistently growing year after year, as many are discovering the town’s unique allure and quality of life. By how much, you ask? Since the 1970s, the population has more than doubled, going from 38,902 in 1970 to an estimated population of 108,649 in 2019. It is now the 12th largest city in Colorado, which is impressive with other powerhouses like Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora and Fort Collins in our midst.
Photo Courtesy of Greeley Stampede
If you’ve been to the Greeley Stampede, you know all about the carnival rides, rodeo shows, parade, concerts, fireworks and other happenings at Island Grove Park over the Fourth of July. But you may not know that this annual tradition dates all the way back to the late 1800s, when the stampede first started to honor local potato farmers. It was reportedly the largest festival/fair in the world during the 1920s, and still remains the largest Fourth of July celebration in the entire country! Today, the Greeley Stampede has grown into an internationally acclaimed festival attracting more than 250,000 people each year.
The water here just tastes better. And we have actual scientific results to back that up! In 2017, Greeley won first place at the Tap Water Taste Test at American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The city also won the People’s Choice Award determined by conference attendees! Greeley has two conventional water treatment plants that provide drinking water for all citizens in the city and surrounding communities. Greeley has adopted the 1958 City Charter and has created a Council-approved Water Board designed to “acquire, develop, convey, lease, and protect water and sewer assets, supplies, and facilities.” As a result, the city has one of the most robust water systems in the country.
Speaking of water, Greeley has always been smart with its water usage. Weld County was the first county to move melted snow from the mountains to the eastern slopes of Colorado for use in irrigation. Early farmers built water storage facilities high in the mountains to provide a supply of irrigation water during the end of the growing season. With all the snow we receive in Colorado, this was a very wise and resourceful decision!
What interesting facts about Greeley can you share? Let us know in the comments below!