Windsor: Today & History
With its central location and three-mile proximity to I-25, Windsor has seen a rapid urban growth in the past 20 years. Interstate 25 is the main thoroughfare for the Front Range and runs north and south through the entire state of Colorado. Windsor is also four and a half miles away from the Fort Collins-Loveland Airport which serves all of northern Colorado. This smaller airport provides service for individually owned planes, commercial planes as well as helicopters, and is a busy hub for airplanes in this area.
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway is still active and viable, and maintains the only railway through Windsor. It remains an important stop in which to pick up shipments destined for other Colorado locations or locations across the United States as well as to off load equipment and supplies here for this community and the surrounding area.
The Town of Windsor has developed a Comprehensive Strategic Plan to support the future growth of Windsor and keep it a viable and action-oriented community. The town supports 25 developed and undeveloped parks including Main Park, Boardwalk Park, Chimney Park, Eastman Park, and Diamond Valley.
Boardwalk Park (located within the Windsor DDA boundary) is home to many outdoor attractions including a summer concert series, October Fest, Fourth of July celebration, the Windsor Fine Arts Festival, Taste of Windsor, and other annual events sponsored by the Town of Windsor, the Windsor Chamber of Commerce, and other private entities.
The Windsor Community Recreation Center offers classes, events, athletic leagues, senior recreation, and adaptive recreational activities for people with disabilities. The Firehouse Museum and the Arts & Heritage Center exhibit a wealth of historical information and artifacts from the past and are located within walking distance from the beautiful Windsor Lake and downtown area. Additionally, the Windsor Community Playhouse produces several theatrical productions each year ranging from Broadway hits to children’s shows.
The Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue has three fire stations, two located within the town of Windsor and one in the neighboring community of Severance. These two stations serve two communities in Larimer and Weld County along with outlining areas of Fort Collins and portions of Interstate 25. The third fire station just opened for service in December 2011, and is within one half mile to Interstate 25.
Education is an important element of the success of Windsor’s growing community. The Weld RE-4 School District headed by a five-person Board of Directors and Superintendent of Schools oversees one high school, two middle schools, five elementary schools and one charter school. Total enrollment for the schools is close to 4,600 students. Quality education has been nationally recognized along with national and state recognition and the success of athletic and other school programs.
Four major area hospitals are located within 20 minutes or less from anywhere in Windsor.
On June 10, 1872, Edward Hollister received his land patent for an 80 acre parcel of land in the fertile valley known as Cache la Poudre Valley just west of what is now known as downtown Windsor. Once deemed as a “hinterland” between Greeley and Fort Collins, Hollister is known as the founder of Windsor. He along with his family became large landowners and was one of a handful of dry-land farmers and stock raisers in this booming section of northern Colorado.
Ideally located between Fort Collins and Greeley, the actual town site of Windsor developed primarily because of irrigation and railroads. Additionally, the town was served by a man-made reservoir just to the north of the downtown area first known as Lake Hollister and then later as Kern Reservoir or Windsor Lake. The lake was the source of irrigation for many Windsor area farmers. In 1891 the Lake Supply Ditch Company used Windsor Lake as a resource to ship over 1,500 tons of ice to use for refrigerated box cars or to sell to city’s icehouses.
The lake was a vital source of ice for Denver and the railroads until the evolution of mechanically produced ice.
While irrigation for the farmers was readily available, this new town had no reliable transportation in which to ship its bounty to market. In 1882 the Colorado Central Railroad (CC) with financial backing from the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) expanded into Northern Colorado under a variety of names. That same year the town was named for the Rev. Samuel Asa Windsor, a visiting pastor from Fort Collins. Today the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway maintains the railroad through Windsor.
In January 1890, Otis Hill and Harry Teller formed the Windsor Mercantile Company. By the end of the decade the store had built the largest retail business block in town. Anotherinfluential commercial developer in that time period of early Windsor was John M. Cobbs who developed one of the most prosperous cattle feeding operations in Weld County. Cobbs invested his profits into Windsor’s commercial development and is responsible for many of its existing commercial storefronts.
Windsor officially became an incorporated town on April 2, 1890 and consisted of everything south of the railroad to Locus Street and First Street west to West Street. The first meeting of the town board occurred on April 30 of that same year and consisted of Union Colony pioneers and prominent businessmen. The town continued to grow and mature steadily into the turn of the 20th century as a center of local commerce and agricultural processing. Windsor posted impressive shipping statistics with the Greeley, Salt Lake & Pacific and later Colorado & Southern Railroads for agricultural produce, particularly grain and potatoes, as well as passenger receipts. During this time period consumers stated that Windsor offered “everything one could ever want” in a small town.
By 1900 tariffs on foreign sugar had created a market for new sources of sugar. Windsor-area farmers planted sugar beets and shipped them to a Loveland factory, the first in Northern Colorado. This added to the town’s prosperity thusly increasing investments into the downtown area.
Sugar beets, however, required large numbers of “stoop laborers. “ The sugar beet factories were desperate to find cheap but reliable laborers, a need that was met by German imm
t the Germans from Russia and their large families and incredible work ethic, the sugar beet industry would have been very hard pressed to find the necessary labor to igrants from Russia who had settled in Nebraska and Kansas. In 1902, the sugar factories brought hundreds of families of Volga Russian descent to Northern Colorado.
Without the work in the beet fields. Moreover, these immigrants would achieve financial success within one generation and own the highest producing beet farms. Many second and third-generation people of German origin still reside in Windsor, including some of the most prominent farmers, livestock feeders, merchants and professional business leaders.
The 1910 U.S. Census indicated that 569 of Windsor’s 1,780 residents identified themselves as Germans from Russia or the children of Germans from Russia. That number accounted for nearly one-third of the town’s entire population (By 1920 the percentage was even higher).
Unfortunately, due to decreased sugar beet acreage in this area, the Great Western Sugar Company closed in the mid-1960s. A few years later, however, Kodak opened a Windsor factory on the Great Western Sugar Company’s site to establish its Colorado headquarters. Kodak Colorado became Eastman Kodak’s major manufacturing facility and was one of the single largest employers in northern Colorado. By 1980, Kodak Colorado Division employed 3,000 people, 85% of whom the corporation hired locally. Moreover, Kodak assumed an active role in dealing with the growing pains that inevitably happened because of the arrival of a large industry. To that end, the Windsor Chamber of Commerce led the effort to revive downtown. It appointed a Main Street committee to research, plan and implement the revitalization of the central business district.
Kodak’s influence spurred economic development and a population surge in the community. Because of the today’s digital world, however, Kodak Colorado’s plant was forced to significantly downsize. Since that time, Windsor has drawn new industry and businesses such as Hexcel and Ice Energy, Vestas, an international and state-of-the art turbine factory, commercial and residential development such as Water Valley, and many other local retail and professional businesses. With a current population according to the 2010 Census of 18,644 people, this thriving, growing and progressive community is located in the heart of Northern Colorado and is an ideal environment in which to start a new business, raise a family, retire, or just play and explore the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Windsor represents “quality of life” at its finest.