- Grand Valley (Colorado)
The Grand Valley is an extended populated valley, approximately 30 miles (48 km) long and 5 miles (8 km) wide, located along the Colorado River in Mesa County in western
Coloradoand Grand County, Utahin the United States. The valley contains the city of Grand Junction, as well as other smaller communities such as Fruita, Orchard Mesa, and Palisade. The valley is noted as a major fruitgrowing region, with a large number of orchards. It takes its name from the "Grand River", the historical name of the Colorado River upstream from its confluence with the Green River that was used by locals in the late 19th and early 20th century. The valley is the most densely populated area on the Colorado Western Slope, with Grand Junction serving as somewhat of an unofficial capital of the region, as a counterpoint to Denver on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountainsin the Colorado Front Range. Interstate 70and U.S. Highway 6run through the valley from west-to-east.
Description and history
The valley is located where the Colorado widens at the mouth of
De Beque Canyon, then follows a wide arc bending to the west/southwest. The Colorado receives the Gunnison River, one of its major tributaries, just south of Grand Junction near the midpoint of the valley. The valley is surrounded by a large plateau formations, including the Bookcliffs along the north side and the Grand Mesaalong the southeast side. Colorado National Monumentsits on a ridge on the southwest side of the valley west of Grand Junction. Much of the surrounding table land areas rimming the valley are public lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.
The valley was in area historically occupied by the Ute people. White settlers began to arrive in the 1880s, farming the valley for a variety of grains and fruits. In the 1890s, it was discovered that sugar beets grown in the valley had a high sugar content, leading to widespread cultivation of that crop. At the turn of the 20th century, evaporation techniques allowed fruit growers to ship their products more efficiently to distant markets, yielding an expansion of fruit growing in the valley. In 1918, the
Highline Projectwas completed to provide water to cultivate 50,000 acres (20.0 km²) in the valley. The project included a roller damin De Beque Canyon, the largest of three such dams of this type in the nation [http://www.gjhistory.org/cat/agriculture.htm] .
* [http://terraserver.microsoft.com/image.aspx?T=2&S=17&Z=12&X=27&Y=169&W=1 Topographic map]
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