Walsenburg history

Walsenburg history
An abandoned service station in Walsenburg, which was hard-hit by the closure of coal mines in the area but has rebounded with tourism because of its prime location. | Photo by Pete Zarria / flickr

Staff writer

Walsenburg began some 150 years ago as La Plaza de los Leones, named after settler Don Miguel Antonio Leon.

A German merchant, Fred Walsen, settled nearby in 1870 and his mercantile business attracted German settlers to follow. After he helped incorporate the new town, he was honored by its name, “Walsenburg.”

In 1876, Walsen opened the area’s first coal mine, and mining became an economic mainstay in the region. Some 500 million tons of coal was mined there until most of the mines in the area closed down in recent years.

Walsenburg has rebounded in recent years because of its location on U.S. 160 near Interstate 25, which brings 4 million vehicles a year down Main Street.