Colorado City (pop. 4,146) is the county seat of Mitchell County, Texas, located on the Interstate Highway 20 corridor in Central West Texas. The city got its start in the 1870s when, following the creation of 54 new counties in the state, hundreds of cattlemen arrived in the area intent on taming this part of the “wild west.” More settlers arrived due to speculation over what route the railroad would take through West Texas, and, in 1881, the Texas & Pacific Railway reached the community known today as Colorado City.
New businesses sprang up overnight with the arrival of the railroad, and the community became the first boom town in West Texas, known as the “Mother City of West Texas.” Colorado, Texas, was formally organized in 1882, and cattle, cotton, and oil were established as its major economic engines by the 1920s. Today, innovative energy technology is providing a boost to Colorado City’s economy, with new drilling methods opening up opportunities in the oil and gas industry and wind turbine farms locating in the area.
The city’s historic assets continue to enhance the quality of life for the local community and attract visitors from all over the world. Since 2006, Colorado City has been a Texas and National Main Street City, an honor exemplifying the community’s commitment to historic preservation as an economic development strategy. The City of Colorado City entered into a public-private partnership in 2010 to renovate and make improvements to the Colorado City Opera House (est. 1899), now owned by the City and the home of the C-City Opry and the West Texas Steel Guitar Association. This successful rehabilitation for contemporary use has been a catalyst for a growing historic preservation movement in the community.
In 2011, the Colorado City Main Street Program developed a complete inventory of the downtown’s historic buildings in conjunction with the adoption of a heritage preservation ordinance. Currently, the publicly available inventory is being expanded to include historic homes outside of the designated Main Street area.
The City also operates the Heart of West Texas and Heritage House Museums. The volunteer-managed Heart of West Texas Museum preserves and interprets the heritage of Mitchell County and West Texas, with exhibits ranging from Lake Champion mammoth fossils to detailed accounts of the lives of prominent local citizens. The Heritage House Museum, located in the city’s first brick home, offers tours and serves as event space.
Colorado City is an active participant in the regional Texas Plains Trail, is actively organizing its first historic preservation awards program, and recently revived an annual event known as Frontier Days.
Designated a Preserve America Community in February 2013.
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