Windsor, Colorado is situated between the mountains and the plains, where open sky meets towering peaks. It is a place rich in history pre-dating the town’s incorporation in 1890. A world-renowned archaeological site, the Kaplan-Hoover Buffalo Kill Site, is located along Windsor’s towering bluffs, giving testament to a native presence as early as 835 B.C. The later presence of native peoples is scantily documented and early settlers make little or no reference to interactions with native tribes.
In 1873, a settler named J.L. Hilton built a small house situated half-way between Greeley and Fort Collins. The “half-way” house, as it became known, directed travelers along a route, which was soon adopted by the Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific railway. The railroad brought investors and farmers to Windsor in increasing numbers. Windsor’s rich alluvial plains lent themselves to extensive wheat production and the establishment of one of the town’s first commercial enterprises, a flour mill, which, through a subsequent fire in 1899, was rebuilt and became the Windsor Milling and Elevator Company.
Like many northern Colorado towns, the sugar beet forever changed the shape and composition of Windsor. Wheat fields were replaced with lucrative sugar beets, which were chopped, processed and refined into table sugar by the Great Western Sugar Company from 1905 until the plant’s closure in 1966. The Great Western Sugar Co. attracted large immigrant families from Kansas and Nebraska who had emigrated as Germans-from-Russia to hand-pick and cultivate the beets essential to the company’s industry.
By the end of the first quarter of the 20th century, German-from-Russia families were operating many of their own farms and Mexican workers replaced them in the fields. The sugar beet industry in Windsor drew to a close in 1966 and subsequent industries, including a Kodak processing plant, continued to employ generations of Windsor residents. Today, Windsor leads the way for northern Colorado in attracting green industry. In addition to wind mill blade production, the area supports ethanol production, a recycling facility and other green industries.
Windsor has experienced unprecedented growth since 2000 and continues to attract families with its small-town charm and quality of life. Windsor has managed to balance its growth while maintaining the small-town feeling its residents are proud of.