History of Littleton

In 1858, gold was discovered in Little Dry Creek just a few miles north of where Littleton would eventually be constructed. The announcement of the gold started the Colorado Gold Rush in 1859. This attracted miners, homesteaders, and merchants to the area who were seeking to profit from gold or the people searching for the precious mineral. Richard Sullivan Little was an engineer who came to Colorado from New Hampshire in order to build irrigation systems for the areas outside of Denver. Little eventually settled on the land south of Little Dry Creek in 1862 with his wife.

Richard Sullivan Little eventually constructed a flourmill in 1867 with the help of neighbors in order to generate a consistent income. Railroads were constructed close to the area drawing in a number of new settlers in 1871. The expansion caused Littleton to break apart the land that he had owned in order to form the village of Littleton. Expansion of the village started as Colorado was granted statehood in 1876. By the end of the 19th century, Littleton had become a functioning settlement with schools, stores, hotels, and even a church.

One of the largest changes occurred at the start of the 20th century when Littleton was chosen to be the county seat of Arapahoe. This caused an influx of jobs and new residents because of the government institutions that would now be part of the village. This distinction also drew in new businesses and ensured the long-term survival of the city in Colorado even as other smaller settlements started to fade away or become part of larger cities. The primary industry in Littleton throughout the first half of the 19th century was still farming and agriculture. This changed after World War II.

Modern manufacturing came to Littleton in the 1950s in the form of companies producing pneumatic valves and rocket components for the military. The switch to manufacturing continued for the next few decades as a diverse range of businesses came to the area including aerospace, electronics, and defense manufacturers. This fueled many renovations and changes. In the 1960s, Littleton constructed a racetrack.

The 1970s included several new projects to improve green space and renovate older buildings like the unused railroad depot that helped bring the first settlers to the city. The 1970s also saw the construction of controversial concrete sidewalk sculptures called pods that looks like tall umbrellas. The pods would not be removed for some time. The population continued to grow and a county community college was erected for everyone in Arapahoe. Littleton had over 30,000 citizens by the late 1980s.

Littleton now has a hospital and every modern amenity residents could ask for. Technology companies, startups, and healthcare firms have taken root in the area. The city continues to grow although recent disputes caused the loss of a large portion of Arapahoe County to the neighboring city of Centennial. Residents enjoy a high quality of life in Littleton.