In 1873, a settler named J.L. Hilton built a small house situated half-way between Greeley and Fort Collins. The “half-way” house, as it became known, directed travelers along a route, which was soon adopted by the Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific railway. The railroad brought investors and farmers to Windsor in increasing numbers. Windsor's rich alluvial plains lent themselves to extensive wheat production and the establishment of one of the town's first commercial enterprises, a flour mill, which through a subsequent fire in 1899, was rebuilt and became the Windsor Milling and Elevator Company.
A rich wheat farming district, the area around Windsor first drew permanent residents in the early 1870s. Two factors were to play a critical role in stimulating Windsor's early development: irrigation and the railroad. Irrigation increased crop variety and production and the railroad shipped this bounty to market. The town was platted in 1882, the same year the Windsor Railroad Depot was built, and incorporated in 1890. It was named for the Rev. Samuel Asa Windsor.
By 1900, tariffs on foreign sugar had created a market for new sources of sugar. Research in the improved cultivation of sugar beets was taking place at Colorado Agricultural College in Fort Collins, and the capital to advance production and manufacture of beet sugar was coming together. In 1903 a factory for producing sugar from sugar beets was built in Windsor. Sugar beet cultivation required large numbers of "stoop laborers," a need that was met by ethnic German immigrants from Russia. With large families and a strong work ethic, the German-Russians who settled in Windsor and other sugar beet areas would achieve financial success within one generation and own the highest producing beet farms. The Great Western Sugar Company fueled Windsor's economy through the mid-1960s, when the Windsor factory closed. Plentiful water and land drew Kodak to Windsor where it opened a manufacturing plant on the heels of the sugar factory's closing.
Kodak's opening spurred economic development in the town, and a population surge as the sugar beet factory closed. Later in the 1980s Metal Container Corporation (MCC) opened a can factory and Deline Box Company opened a factory, which closed in December 2010, that primarily served the Budweiser facility in Fort Collins, Colorado.
In the last two decades, its central location among the population centers of northern Colorado, together with its proximity to Interstate 25, have made it the site of rapid urban growth, particularly on the western edge of town, as it grows towards the interchange on I-25. In the 1990s, the town limits were westward into Larimer County. The incorporated town limits west of Interstate 25 are now contiguous with Loveland, and are separated from southeast Fort Collins by the Fossil Creek Open Space public lands of Larimer County acquired through a county-wide vote-approved sales tax.
In this century, there has been significant industrial development on the southeast side of town. Vestas has a wind turbine factory, and several related companies, Hexcel and Ice Energy have headquarters in Windsor. Owens Illinois has a glass factory that primarily serves the Budweiser facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. Windsor has also attracted digital services providers in recent years, such as farm management software provider Agworld who's North American headquarters are based here.
Windsor's population has grown rapidly, and now hovers around 30,000 people.
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