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Lafayette, Colorado
City of Lafayette
Lafayette, Colorado.
Lafayette, Colorado.
Location of the City of Lafayette in Boulder County, Colorado.
Location of the City of Lafayette in Boulder County, Colorado.
Lafayette, Colorado is located in the United States
Lafayette, Colorado
Lafayette, Colorado
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Colorado
County Boulder County
City Lafayette
Founded 1888
Incorporated January 6, 1890
Named for Lafayette Miller
 • Type Home Rule Municipality
 • Total 9.41 sq mi (24.38 km2)
 • Land 9.21 sq mi (23.86 km2)
 • Water 0.20 sq mi (0.52 km2)
5,210 ft (1,588 m)
 • Total 24,453
 • Estimate 
 • Density 3,330.84/sq mi (1,286.02/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) Both 303 and 720
FIPS code 08-41835
GNIS feature ID 0202813
Highways US 287, SH 7, SH 42 NW Parkway

The City of Lafayette is a home rule municipality located in southeastern Boulder County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 24,453 at the 2010 United States Census.


Lafayette is located in southeastern Boulder County at 39°59′42″N 105°6′2″W / 39.99500°N 105.10056°W / 39.99500; -105.10056 (39.995, -105.100556). It is bordered by the town of Erie to the north and east, by the city of Broomfield to the east and south, and by Louisville to the southwest. U.S. Highway 287 is the main road through the city, leading north to Longmont and south to Broomfield and Denver. State Highway 7 leads east from Lafayette to Brighton and west to Boulder.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Lafayette has a total area of 9.6 square miles (24.9 km2), of which 9.5 square miles (24.5 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 1.50%, is water.


Lafayette was founded in 1888 by Mary Miller. She and her husband, Lafayette Miller, had moved to the area to farm land acquired via the Homestead Act in 1871. In 1874 the Millers moved to Boulder. Lafayette Miller ran a butcher shop and was a town trustee. Lafayette Miller died in 1878, after which Mary Miller moved back to the farm with their six small children. In 1884 coal was discovered on the Miller farm, and in 1887 John Simpson sank the first shaft, thereby starting the coal mining era. In 1888 Mary Miller designated 150 acres (0.61 km2) of the farm for the town of Lafayette, which she named after her late husband. In July 1888 a second mine, the Cannon, went into operation and the first houses were built. On January 6, 1890, the town of Lafayette was incorporated. As stipulated in the original town deeds, no alcohol was sold east of what is now known as Public Road.

Lafayette quickly became a part of the coal-mining boom that all of eastern Boulder and southwestern Weld counties were experiencing, with the Cannon and Simpson mines being the largest and most productive. By 1914 Lafayette was a booming town with two banks, four hotels, and a brickworks. Lafayette was also the location of a power station that served Louisville, Boulder, Longmont, and Fort Collins.

Mary Miller continued to be a leader in the community, especially in January 1900, when the town burned. She founded the Miller Bank in 1892, and it became the Lafayette Bank in 1902. She was elected president of the bank, and at that time was the only woman bank president in the world. The bank closed in 1914 because of roughly $90,000 in bad loans to the United Mine Workers. She remained devoted to the temperance movement and eventually ran for state treasurer on the Prohibition ticket. Miller died in 1921 at her daughter-in-law's home at 501 E. Cleveland Street.

Lafayette continued to thrive as a coal-mining town. Many miners struck in the aforementioned strike in the 1910s, which was nationally recognized as a great Wobbly (Industrial Workers of the World, a radical labor group) strike, noted for the Ludlow Massacre of miners' families by the National Guard in the Southern Coal Field near Trinidad, Colorado.

In 1927, Lafayette's coal miners struck again. This time, the mining massacre was closer to home, resulting in the deaths of five Lafayette resident miners just northeast of town in the Columbine Mine Massacre on November 27, 1927, in what is now the ghost town of Serene near Erie.

Another female financier came to the miners' aid. Josephine Roche, the daughter of the anti-labor deceased owner of the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company (RMFC) that owned many of the mines in the Lafayette area, used some shares of the company she had inherited from her father, bought a controlling interest in the company, and immediately began the most labor-friendly mine operation in the United States. She became a top assistant to Franklin D. Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins. Back in Lafayette, life became much better for the coal miners with the more labor-friendly management of the RMFC.

Coal mining declined as an industry by the 1950s as natural gas replaced coal. The Black Diamond mine closed in 1956, and Lafayette became once more an agriculture-based community. As Denver and Boulder grew, residential growth in Lafayette increased. With the increase in residential growth, the farm-based economy changed and commercial, small industrial and manufacturing factors became more important.


The Lafayette City Council serves as the community's legislative body, enacting ordinances, appropriating funds to conduct city business, and providing policy direction for city governance through the city administrator. The council consists of seven members who are elected on a non-partisan basis in odd-numbered years. Terms are staggered as four seats must be filled each election year. The three councilors with the most votes serve four-year terms and the fourth receives a two-year term. The mayor and mayor pro-tem are selected by the City Council for two-year terms. The current mayor of Lafayette is Christine Berg and the mayor pro-tem is Gustavo Reyna.

In 2010 leaders were signed for several empty big-box stores on South Boulder Road. Jax Sporting Goods moved into the old Ace Hardware building on the corner of S. Boulder and Highway 287, and next door Sunflower Market opened a new store where Albertsons had been housed. In 2014, new commercial buildings were built in the same marketplace, that house a few restaurants like Chipotle, and telecommunications companies like AT&T.

Lafayette has a variety of events each year, including an oatmeal festival in cooperation with the Quaker Oats Company, a peach festival, a wine festival, and Lafayette Days. Festival Plaza is a gathering place in Old Town Lafayette on Public Road and Chester Streets. The Plaza is composed of a series of four smaller interconnected plazas each designed with features to promote various events.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 410
1900 970 136.6%
1910 1,892 95.1%
1920 1,815 −4.1%
1930 1,842 1.5%
1940 2,052 11.4%
1950 2,090 1.9%
1960 2,612 25.0%
1970 3,498 33.9%
1980 8,985 156.9%
1990 14,548 61.9%
2000 23,197 59.5%
2010 24,453 5.4%
2019 (est.) 30,687 25.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 24,453 people, 9,632 households, and 6,354 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,584 people per square mile (997.8/km2). There were 9,997 housing units at an average density of 1,052.3 per square mile (408.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 85.6% White, 1.1% African American, 0.9% Native American, 3.8% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 5.4% some other race, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 18.2% of the population.

There were 9,632 households, of which 36.5% had children under the age of 18 living in them; 49.9% were headed by married couples living together; 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present; and 34.0% were non-families. Of all households, 25.5% were made up of individuals, and 5.9% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. Average household size was 2.54, and average family size was 3.08.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 25.4% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 29.9% from 45 to 64, and 8.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.6 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.9 males.

For the period 2009–2011, the estimated median income for a household in the city in 2010 was $66,202, and the median income for a family was $79,212. Male full-time workers had a median income of $54,313 versus $50,166 for females. The per capita income for the city was $34,711. About 9.3% of families and 12.5% of the population were below the poverty line.


Lafayette public schools are part of the Boulder Valley School District. The main public high school in Lafayette is Centaurus High School, which has approximately 1,000 students. Peak to Peak Charter School offers kindergarten through high school. The public middle school is Angevine Middle School. This school feeds into Centaurus and is also very diverse. The elementary schools are Lafayette, Alicia Sanchez, Bernard D. 'Pat' Ryan STEAM school, and Pioneer Elementary, a bilingual school where English and Spanish are both spoken. Alexander Dawson School is a private K-12 college prep school in the north part of town.


Between 1849 and 1870, California goldseekers — followed by the grand Concord Coaches of the Overland Express and Mail Co. — traveled the Cherokee Trail, an ancient north–south trading route overlapped today by U.S. Highway 287 in Lafayette. From 1864 to 1868, the Cherokee Trail/Laramie Road was a principal travel corridor to the west and a key part of the Overland Mail and Express Co.’s 1,000-mile route, which originated in Atchison, Kansas. The Front Range portion of the Southern Route went north from Denver to LaPorte and Virginia Dale where the trail rejoined the Central Overland Route in Laramie, Wyoming.

The Overland Mail and Express Co.’s 600-mile Denver to Salt Lake City Division was composed of 46 stage stations spaced every 10 to 15 miles. The stagecoach crossing at Boulder Creek north of Lafayette was at today's N. 109th Street near Brownsville, about 1/2-mile east of U.S. Highway 287. Starting in 1864, three Overland Stage Line stations in Boulder and Broomfield counties operated under the purview of Ben Holladay's Overland Mail and Express Co.: Little Thompson stage station about 2 miles north of today's Longmont, Boon's Ranch (Boulder Station) stage station at Boulder Creek, and Church's Ranch stage station (then called Child's stage station) located near today's Old Wadsworth and 105th Street in Westminster. The Burlington House in what is now Longmont became an Overland Stage Line home station a few years later.

From 1866 to 1871, Lafayette and Mary Miller operated the Miller Tavern Ranch, a saloon and stage stop for the Mason & Ganow stagecoach at the former Stearns Dairy north of Dillon Road on U.S. 287, today known as the Rock Creek Farm.

The Mason & Ganow stagecoach company launched on Oct. 17, 1868, to compete with Wells Fargo and promoted daily overnight service from Denver to Cheyenne, about 100 miles. Heading north, the stagecoach left Denver at 8 a.m. and arrived in Cheyenne at 7 a.m. the next morning. Traveling south, the stagecoach left Cheyenne at 6 p.m.

Lafayette pioneers Adolf and Anna Waneka ran the two-story stage stop on Coal Creek located where today's U.S. 287 crosses Coal Creek in Lafayette but it, too, was a meal stop and not a swing station.

The Rocky Mountain News for Nov. 19, 1867, listed six stage companies operating from Denver: Wells, Fargo & Company with stages leaving daily for points east via the Platte and points west via Salt Lake City; Denver, Valmont and Boulder stage company leaving Thursdays and Saturdays; United States Express Company leaving daily for points east via Smoky Hill route; Hariman & Harmon's stage leaving for South Park each Thursday; Denver, Idaho and Georgetown Express leaving Denver Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; the Denver and Santa Fe Stage Line, leaving Denver for points south every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Ben Holladay's Overland Mail and Express Co. was sold to Wells, Fargo & Company in 1866 for $1.8 million in cash and stocks. After the Transcontinental Railroad was completed to Cheyenne in 1867, stagecoach travel declined, and the majority of stagecoaches heading from Denver to Cheyenne carried passengers looking to catch an eastbound train.

By early 1869, Wells Fargo had sold all of its stagecoach operations, including the Denver to Cheyenne run, which was acquired by John Hughes. Robert Spotswood and William McClelland bought the stage line from Hughes and continued running the Denver to Cheyenne stage until Nov. 27, 1869.

Notable people

  • Bob Beauprez, Republican politician
  • Devon Beitzel, former professional basketball point guard
  • John C. Buechner, educator, politician and City Councillor
  • Edward Lawrence Doyle, (1886-1954) coal miner and United Mine Workers Dist. 15 secretary-treasurer based in Denver from 1912 to 1917. Doyle corresponded regularly with labor activist Mother Jones and with author Upton Sinclair, who wrote “King Coal,” an exposé on the dangerous conditions Colorado coal miners faced. Doyle was entrusted by Sinclair to proofread “King Coal” for accuracy prior to its release in 1917.
  • Lars Grimsrud, aerospace engineer and performance automobile enthusiast
  • Maria Handley, member-at-large of the Democratic National Committee
  • Steven Lindsey, a retired U.S. Air Force officer and NASA astronaut
  • John Massaro, also known as John Vincent Hazlett, guitarist and wrote songs for Steve Miller Band
  • Lenny Metz (1899-1953), shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies 1923–25, lived in Lafayette
  • Mary E. Miller (1843–1921) founded the town of Lafayette, Colorado
  • Joe Neguse, US Representative for Colorado's 2nd District and first Black man from Colorado to serve in Congress.
  • Alicia Sanchez (1926-1985) was a Latina activist who founded the Clinica Campesina (which became Clinica Family Health), a nationally recognized model for community-based health care.
  • Jessica Watkins, geologist, former international rugby player and 2017 NASA astronaut candidate
  • Cody Burgdorff, former college lacrosse player for Augustana College and record holding goalie, current USA Fly Fishing Team member and top scorer

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Lafayette (Colorado) para niños

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