The Founding of Our Community

On June 22, 1850, a wagon train bound for California crossed the Platte River just north of the confluence with Clear Creek, following Clear Creek west for six miles. The members of the wagon train rested for a day, and Lewis Ralston dipped his gold pan in an unnamed mountain stream. He found almost $5 in gold in his first pan.

Ralston continued on to California but returned to "Ralston's Creek" with the Green Russell party eight years later. Members of this party founded Auraria (later Denver City) in 1858 and touched off the gold rush to the Rockies.

On December 1, 1995, the Colorado Historical Society officially recognized that Colorado's first discovery occurred in present-day Arvada. Today, a spectacular pedestrian bridge connecting the Ralston and Clear Creek trail systems is a signature architectural gateway on Arvada's eastern edge. The 400-foot-long curved bridge is supported by suspended cables and anchored by a three-foot diameter mast 100 feet tall.

By 1860, more than thirty land claims had been filed in the Ralston/Clear Creek valley by men who came for gold but stayed to develop farms and establish a home.

Crops that thrived were wheat, corn, oats, plums, celery, cherries, berries, melons, strawberries, and various vegetables. At one time, Arvada was known as the "celery capital of the world."

Arvada farmers found a good market for their produce in Denver and in hungry mining camps. They had to drive a horse and wagon into Denver City to pick up their mail and purchase supplies. Their address was "near Ralston's Point" - the high ridge between Ralston Creek and Clear Creek.

Benjamin Franklin Wadsworth

In 1863, Benjamin Franklin Wadsworth purchased a land claim and in the years that followed, made plans for a school and a post office to be built if a town could be platted and named. Wadsworth developed a plat for a town of nine square blocks on his 160 acres, and his wife Mary Ann named the new town Arvada after her brother-in-law, Hiram Arvada Haskins.

The formal notice of the new town, population 100, was posted on December 1, 1870.