Mariano Medina built the first settlement in the area, Fort Namaqua, in 1858. It was a trading post and stage station, and the site is now Namaqua Park. Prior to that time it was a hub for French fur trappers dating back to the late 1700s.
The City of Loveland was founded in 1877 along the newly-constructed line of the Colorado Central Railroad, near its crossing of the Big Thompson River. It was named in honor of William A.H. Loveland, the president of the Colorado Central Railroad. The City was founded one mile (1.6 km) upstream from the existing small settlement of St. Louis, the buildings of which were moved to the site of Loveland.
For the first half of the 20th Century the town was dependent on agriculture, and the primary crops in the area were sugar beets and sour cherries. In 1901, the Great Western Sugar Company built a factory in Loveland, which remained as a source of employment until its closure in 1985. During the late 1920's the Spring Glade Orchard was the largest cherry orchard west of the Mississippi River. At that time the cherry orchards produced more than $1 million worth of cherries per year. A series of droughts, attacks of blight and finally a killer freeze destroyed the industry. By 1960 cherries were no longer farmed in the area.
In the late 20th Century, the economy diversified with the arrival of manufacturing facilities by Hewlett-Packard, Teledyne, and Hach, a water quality analysis equipment manufacturer. The Medical Center of the Rockies has added a substantial amount of employment in that sector as well.
The City is south of Fort Collins, its larger neighbor and the county seat. The two cities have been steadily growing towards each other over the last several decades and are considered to be a single metropolitan area by the U.S. government. The establishment of county-owned open space between the two communities in the 1990's was intended to create a permanent buffer to contiguous growth.
Loveland's population is now at 78,000, and has aggressively expanded its incorporated limits eastward to embrace the interchanges at Interstate 25 (I-25). The I-25 & Crossroads Boulevard intersection and the I-25 & U.S. Highway 34 intersection are both being developed with retail and commercial properties filling in nicely. In the last decade, the I-25 & Hwy. 34 intersection has become a primary commercial hub of northern Colorado, with the construction of shopping centers such as the Promenade Shops at Centerra and the Outlets at Loveland, and the addition of the Budweiser Events Center. The Medical Center of the Rockies has also been built near the Interstate 25 and U.S. Highway 34 interchange. This area is known as Centerra (see more info below). The interchange is shared with its smaller neighbor Johnstown, of Weld County. Johnstown also shares the intersection of Interstate 25 and State Highway 402 with Loveland.
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