A corral and associated outbuildings in the Walker Ranch historic district.

National and State Register

Agricultural Resources of Boulder County

The multiple property listing Agricultural Resources of Boulder County is organized around the built resources and historic landscapes resulting from agricultural activities in Boulder County, Colorado.

This multiple property submission provides a context for understanding the conditions that encouraged, hindered, or changed agriculture in the area, as well as a basis for evaluating the physical resources resulting from these agricultural activities.  It includes information on extant resources dating from 1862 through 1950 based on numerous field surveys conducted in unincorporated Boulder County.

The historic contexts cover three major historic periods of agricultural development in Boulder County:

  • The Early Settlement/Pioneer Agriculture: 1859-1896 period saw many major agricultural developments occurring in a relatively compressed time period.  In just a few decades, Boulder County went from a Native American hunting ground covered with prairie grasses to bustling mountain mining camps supported by successful farms on the plains.  Settlers arrived shortly after the discovery of gold, broke sod, established farms and ranches, organized and built irrigation systems, founded farming communities, and organized communal agricultural societies and county fairs - all in less than thirty years.
  • The next period of agricultural development, Growth in Agriculture: 1897-1919, saw increasing specialization combined with the introduction of crops better suited for the climate.  This period also experienced growing national and international markets for Boulder County agricultural products and increased mechanization in farming. 
  • The Retrenching and New Directions in Agriculture: 1920-1967 period extended from the end of the First World War through the mid-1960s.  Significant changes in farming continued during this period, brought about in part by severe climatic factors and increasing residential growth in the county.  In addition to further specialization and mechanization, the federal government introduced new programs for agriculture and soil conservation.  Farms grew in size, but decreased in numbers.  This last historic period of agriculture ended when several initiatives, first developed to limit growth in Boulder County, led to open space protection and purchases.  In 1967, the Boulder County Commissioners appointed the first Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee and the City of Boulder started its Open Space program.   Both of these programs eventually served to protect agricultural properties through the purchase and lease of farm and ranch lands throughout the county.  Although perhaps not initially conceived to protect agricultural land, these programs resulted in the preservation of thousands of acres of farms through easements and outright purchases.

The document defines nine property types associated with the three historic contexts:

  1.   Farms, Ranches, Agricultural Districts and Rural Cultural Landscapes
  2.   Farm Houses, Ranch Houses and Worker Housing
  3.   Barns and Secondary Outbuildings
  4.   Farms and Ranch Feed Storage and Processing Resources
  5.   Farm and Ranch Food Storage, Processing and Sales Resources
  6.   Watering Facilities, Windmills and Irrigation Resources
  7.   Agricultural Landscape Features
  8.   Granges and Agricultural Society Buildings
  9.   Transportation Resources

Cover documentation accepted by the National Register on 8/29/2008