A Geologists Paradise - Palisade was named for the austere and dramatic palisades of Mancos shale north of Town. The sculptured appearance was formed by the uplifting of the area combined with localized erosion and the down cutting of the Colorado River. About 75 million years ago, the MesaVerde Group sands were stripped from the mountains in Utah and built up as beach sands and river beds as the Mancos Sea retreated. The MesaVerde group is also known for its thick layers of coal. The picturesque peak in the middle of the Grand Valley is Mt. Garfield. Government surveyors who learned of President Garfields assassination in 1881 named it. Except for the Palisade section, this formation is known as the "Bookcliffs." It was named by Lt. Beckwith of Captain Gunnisons expedition in 1853 who thought the mountain resembled "books on a shelf." The 10,000-foot Grand Mesa (east of Palisade) is the worlds largest flat top mountain. Its volcanic activity helped create the mineral-rich soil perfect for productive agriculture land.
Settlement - The first inhabitants of the Grand Valley were Ute Indians. The first fruit orchards were established in the late 1880s and the first settler in the Palisade district was W.A. Pease. The first peach orchard was located two miles east of Palisade on Rapid Creek. "Colonel" C.C. Bower brought his family to Palisade in 1894 and set the first orchard-pears, peaches and apples, in "Poverty Flats," the area east of Palisade now called the "Vinelands."
The first to plant peaches in the "desert" side were J.L. Oliver, G.W. Bowman and James Clark. Barrels of water were hauled by wagons from the river to water the young trees. The bluffs and rich farmland across the Colorado River south of Town are known as "Orchard Mesa." The majority of the Valleys early settlers came from Iowa and "Iowa Day" was first celebrated in Palisade on August 1, 1907.
Railroads - The Denver and Rio Grande and Colorado Midlands Railroad completed track from Glenwood Springs through Palisade in 1890. Refrigerated railroad cars were the primary distribution method to ship Palisade fruit to markets in the Midwest until the late 1970s. Ice bunkers in each end of the rail car provided refrigeration. Cars would be re-iced enroute by the railroad companies. In 1903, 358 refrigerated cars were shipped from Palisade. By 1912, fruit shipments grew to 1,242 cars and in 1945, total shipments reached 1 1/2 million bushels of fruit.
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