AKRON — Along Colorado’s Eastern plains are a smattering of agricultural towns, rich in history and culture.
The largest in Washington County, an approximately 2,500 square mile county two hours outside of Denver, is Akron.
Sitting at 4,663 feet in elevation, Akron is also the highest point east of Denver along the Burlington Northern Railroad.
The town is located at the intersection of U.S. 34 and CO 63.
Akron’s 135-year history
In 1882, the new Burlington Railroad cut through the largely-undeveloped plains of Colorado.
This brought out surveyors, looking for potential new towns along the railroad line.
On July 1, 1882, a plate was filed by one of those surveyors for the new town of Akron, named by the wife of a railroad official after her hometown of Akron, Ohio.
By September, the town had been incorporated with its own mayor, postmaster, teacher and store. It was also named as the county seat.
After the initial incorporation, however, Akron sat mostly vacant for several years.
The first homestead finally came in 1886 and it began to grow quickly.
There was soon a general store, railroad roundhouse, depot, two newspapers, four blacksmiths, several hotels, doctor’s offices and a library. It was by far one of the largest and most important railroad towns in the area.
An agricultural hub
Akron and Washington County as a whole is one of the top-producing agricultural areas in the state.
According to History Colorado, 88% of the land in the county is devoted to farming.
This is due in part to the region’s exceptional conditions. Akron boasts a 143-day growing season, annual average precipitation of 17.91 inches and an average annual temperature of 48 degrees.
Winter Wheat, millet, corn and sunflowers are among Washington County’s primary crops. They also have a flourishing dairy and beef industry.
You can actually afford to live here
Akron is one of the few places in Colorado where that statement remains true.
While prices are going up, the average list price of a home for sale in Akron was $104,125 last year, according to real estate website Trulia.
Those who want to move out to the plains would have all of the necessities in town: Akron has medical clinics, a dental office, schools, a public library, banks, a supermarket, several churches, a local newspaper, a public pool, and even a small airport.
In fact, the Colorado Plains Regional Airport, open 24-hours, is a popular refueling stop for pilots of small planes wanting to head west over the Rockies, as its easier to gain altitude from plains than it is from one of Denver’s small airports.
Akron also has a few small businesses, worth a stop if you happen to drive through the area.
If not for coffee or lunch, then it’s worth a simple stroll around a true farming small town to experience the hospitality, community pride and charm Akron has held onto for 135 years.
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