Offering sweeping views of Colorado’s Front Range, Erie is a charming town brimming with a rich historical tapestry and modern-day allure. Let’s journey through this captivating town, uncovering its history, hidden gems, and delightful attractions.
A Glimpse into Erie’s History
Long before the establishment of Erie, the vast plains were the sacred hunting grounds of Native American Indian tribes, including the Ute, Arapaho, and Cheyenne. Approximately 300 to 400 years ago, the Ute, originating from Utah, played a significant role in populating what we now know as Colorado.
Early settlers along Coal Creek embraced a life of farming and commerce. The communities along the Front Range were sparse and separated by miles, accessible only by stagecoach or horseback.
The Overland Stage, mirroring the route of today’s U.S. Highway 287, ferried travelers from Denver to Laramie. The railroad’s arrival in Erie in 1871 marked a turning point, improving contact between distant friends and relatives. However, those bound for Longmont still relied on stagecoaches or spring wagons, while those headed to Boulder alighted at the Erie terminal and boarded a stage for the final leg of their journey.
Birth of a Town
Reverend Richard J. Van Valkenburg is reportedly the founding father of Erie, named after his birthplace of Erie, PA. Before being named Erie, the town was referred to as Coal Park. Van Valkenburg founded the Erie Methodist Church and served Erie as Mayor, postmaster, police judge, school board president, and justice of the peace.
Officially established on November 16, 1874, the Town of Erie emerged as a testament to the pioneering spirit of those who shaped its destiny. Reverend Van Valkenburg’s vision, alongside the contributions of early settlers, laid the foundation for Erie’s growth, transforming it from a humble settlement along Coal Creek to a thriving community that blends history with contemporary charm.
Top 10 Erie, Colorado Hidden Gems
Erie, Colorado, continues to evolve, preserving its heritage while embracing contemporary delights. Whether it’s exploring its historical roots, reveling in outdoor adventures, or indulging in culinary delights, Erie offers a diverse tapestry of experiences for locals and visitors alike. Local gems include:
Anderson Farms: Summer and fall are the best times to visit this working farm and partake in U-Pick sunflowers and a fabulous pumpkin patch and farm stand.
Coal Creek Park: Newly opened in 2023, this year-round, 6.5-acre park also has a splash pad open in the summer. The splash pad is transformed into an outdoor ice skating rink in the winter!
Erie Pickleball Courts: Indoor and outdoor options abound to satisfy your pickleball fix.
Erie Biscuit Day: For over two decades, Erie Historical Society has served fabulous, flaky biscuits reminiscent of your grandmother’s secret recipe. The annual event is held in September (mark your calendar!)
The Doughtery Museum: Opened in 1977, this vintage car museum has been enchanting visitors with its vast and varied collection, including a 1902 Mobile Steamer owned by Boulder pioneer Andrew J. Macky.
Wise Homestead Museum: Open May through September and meticulously preserved, the Western Victorian is one of the oldest frame houses in Boulder County.
Historic Walking Tour: Admire the architecture and quaint cottages from a time gone by. Many original homes from the late 1880s and early 1900s still stand as homes today.
Colorado National Speedway: Affordable family fun, only twelve minutes from downtown Erie.
The Boneyard at Reliance Park: 7-acre dog park gives Fido room to stretch and run.
Coal Creek Disc Golf Course: Fun for the whole family!
Restaurants in Erie, Colorado
After exploring Erie’s hidden gems and recreational activities, enjoy a local dining experience at one of the many restaurants that bring local charm and good eats to the town.
Birdhouse: Ramen, Tacos, and Rum…need we say more?
24 Carrot Bistro: Known for its innovative dishes using locally sourced ingredients, it’s the perfect stop for food enthusiasts.
Piripi: A kids’ playroom allows adults to enjoy a martini or two AND uninterrupted conversation!
Industrial Revolution Brewing Company: Small batch and rotating taps
The Rusty Melon: Five variations of the classic Mac & Cheese
Immerse yourself in the history, beauty, and allure of Erie, Colorado—a town that seamlessly blends the past with the present, inviting all to experience its unique charms.