Research Programs

With our focus on the mountain geography of the western United States, we explore the settlement of the area encompassed by the Mineral Belt of the state of Colorado.


The Mineral Belt extends in a diagonal pattern to the southwest of the state, roughly equivalent to the highest ranges of the Rocky Mountains in the continental United States. In total length it is an estimated 400 km (250 m) from one end to the other, cartesian distance, significantly longer than that by connecting road systems.


Time Period of Focus


European settlement of this part of the American West came in the late 1850s. With North/South political upheaval in the established national boundaries and the discovery of mineral wealth in the west, the Rocky Mountain region was opened to exploration and discovery. This marks the early time boundary of our research.


The end of the national mobilization for the First World War marked a shift in the economic and demographic fortunes of the region, coinciding with depletion of the natural mineral wealth resources and transitions of national and world economies. Rapid societal changes of 1920 were reflected in the settlement patterns in the Colorado study area, and this era marks the late time boundary of our research.

Primary Area of Study


Since 2005 we have done indepth research on the northeast end of the Mineral Belt, encompassing the area from Gilpin, through Boulder, to southern Larimer Counties.


Secondary Areas of Study


To validate, compare and contrast the findings of our studies of the the northeast area, we do selected studies in the southwest area, in and near LaPlata and San Juan Counties, and in the central area of Pitkin, Lake, and Gunnison Counties.


And Beyond


Our methodologies explore and document transportation networks as a starting points. In the early days of settlement these trail and road systems, soon being dominated by the railroads. Recognizing the interconnectedness of economic, transportation, and demographic forces, our studies lead us to expand to areas throughout the state and beyond, into regional, national, and international dynamics and histories.



The Mission

of the

Colorado Institute


Historical Geography


To encourage the continued growth of the community and all its members


by emphasizing our common interests


through nurturing a sense of time and a sense of place.

PO Box N

Fort Collins CO 80522 USA

501(c)(3) DLN 26053699001115

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