History of Milliken

Founding of a Trading Post

Many people came from the east to settle in western Weld County and eastern Larimer County. Many of the establishments settled are Towns that the two counties govern today. Milliken was one of the many sites settled at this time. It began as a trading post in the 1860's and in 1905 was recognized as the Hillsboro community. This trading post was established as a result of visionary investors who wanted to take the Denver, Laramie and Northwestern Railroad, the Denver Laramie Realty Company, and the Northwestern Land and Iron Company and develop a railroad line from Denver,Colorado to Seattle, Washington.

Several Towns and stations from Denver along the Platte River were utilized as trade centers for agricultural products grown in the area. The railroad served as a transportation commodity on a line that traveled through Hillsboro and stopped with a small extension to Greeley. The railroad and investors’ visions of transpiring economies as a result of their creation failed.

Milliken: An Early Foundation

By 1908, Hillsboro was beginning to be overlooked by another Town creation, Milliken. Named in honor of Judge John David Milliken, the President of the Northwestern Land and Iron Company and General Council of a legal department that oversaw three companies involved in the railroad line, the Town was slowly recognized. On October 1, 1910, the Town annexed Hillsboro and was recognized by the State of Colorado as the Town of Milliken. Hillsboro currently lies on the southwestern corner of the present Town.

Milliken’s Rough Beginning

The Town struggled to get started. There was a high expectation with population and industrious growth, which immediately concerned citizens. 1911 brought local residents to voice their opinion on the matter after visiting Denver and Chicago and expecting a similar comparison.

Fires erupted that decade, which impacted and destroyed homes, manufacturing, and commercial buildings, which were viable to the young Town’s birth and growth in decades to come. In 1917, the Denver, Laramie, and Northwestern Railroad was abandoned and dismantled as a result of legal and financial difficulties. The founding of this railroad ultimately was one of Milliken’s expressed failures.

Railroads and agriculture continued to be the primary foundations of the Town in the 1920s. Milliken was known for growing sugar beets, potatoes, corn, and wheat and exporting goods with the railroad. Cattle feeding too was popular, and therefore, both cattle and sugar beets were among the largest exported items during the late 1920s and 1930s.

The Great Depression

During the Great Depression, Milliken was still heavily dependent on the railroad for all commodities. At this time it was largely remembered for bringing in coal and the mail. Mail would be delivered to the Town’s depot twice-a-day for citizens to get the most efficient communication possible. The face of Milliken described that of the entire country and world, it was miserable. In fact, the only thing that was progressively working for the Town were Sugar Factories that were shared with the neighboring Johnstown.

Citizens were attempting to sell and trade everything they had in order to survive. Some recall Jewish men in the streets of Milliken trading blankets, food, and other goods with others in order to survive. In essence it was the homeless trading with the homeless in order for people and their families to live the most efficient lives possible. Books, gasoline, and food were all commonly rationed among many hands for survival.

During the Second World War, Milliken, like other communities was trying to recover from the miserable times the prior decade had to offer. Men were at war, and women were pressured into fulfilling jobs and maintaining a sustainable economy, while their husbands and sons were away fighting for the country. Women of this time can recollect handling rural mail, running grocery stores, and doing door-by-door sales to their neighbors.

Milliken’s Pull Forward

Milliken was home to two large potato decks in the 1950's. Trucks would collect the largely grown crop, bring it to the potato decks and export it on train. Milliken also had CAP (Colorado Alfalfa Products) farms, which were immensely favorable. They would produce hay pellets and ship them by rail. As a little Town recovering from the depression, many were still worried about how they were going to survive or even worse, how well their government was performing. McCarthyism struck many of Milliken’s residents with feverish trust in their government.

As prior decades had, Milliken was similar to the nation in the 1960s. Many hippies and yuppies roamed the streets and the economy was starting to positively shift. Schools began to consolidate, the Town organized its first Fire District, and new water was distributed to residents from the Little Thompson River.

The late 1960s and early 1970s brought about a large building boom within Town limits. Suddenly the Town had a considerable amount of affordable housing units. The Town missed the disco era, but was still heavily pursuant on cattle feeding, having a tremendous amount of cattle on the Erlich lot.

Transformation to a Competitive Community

Milliken was still a community that was trying to keep up with its counterparts in the 1980s. The Town took a large progressive step in 1985 and 1986 by turning its dirt roads into paved streets. Generally the Town was in favor of the progressive move but there were those who opposed it as well. The animosity shared allowed others to exchange unbelievable opposition stories, which are being collected for Milliken’s story, the Official History Book of Milliken.

During the 1990s, Milliken grew and so too did its government. The Milliken Community Complex was constructed and in 1996, the Town government moved in to further benefit their citizens. The government grew in 2004 with the opening of the Milliken Public Works Facility. In 2009, the government will extend its quarters once more when the Police move from their historic building to a new facility directly across the street from their current one.

Milliken Today

Milliken is a place filled with many stories. Some are sad and others make one explicitly curious with detail. The Town has a wonderful balance between archeological and historical artifacts, as well as growth where it is needed most with the citizens and business close in mind with all actions executed. If you are looking for a community that is diverse in nature and kind in personality, Milliken is the place for you.

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