In the 1870's and early 1880's, the Gunnison area experienced a mining rush. This invasion of the Ute territory would almost cause a war. So the Ute Tribe was induced to sale the San Juan part of their reservation in the Brunot Agreement of September of 1873.
In 1853, the United States Congress passed a bill to commission four surveys for routes that could be used for a continental railway to the Pacific Ocean, to be under taken by the Army Corp of Engineers. In charge of the central railway route between the 38th and 39th parallels, was Gunnison’s namesake, Captain John Gunnison.
The first white settlers were prospectors who arrived in 1861. The County of Gunnison was formed in 1877, and the town site was first laid out in the spring of 1879. Travelers to Gunnison would have to take the Barlow & Sanderson Stage from Salida, to reach the area before the arrival of the railroads.
In the winter of 1879-1880, the Town of Gunnison was politically divided into two competing halves, Gunnison East, or “Old Gunnison,” was headed up by Alonzo Hartman, Henry Olney, Sam Gill, and F.G. Kubler, and Gunnison West, or sometimes called, “Mullen Patch,” was headed up by La Veta Hotel owner and principal backer Captain Louder Mullen and Gunnison Founder Sylyester Richardson. Mullen and Richardson broke away from the Gunnison Town Company to make arrangements with the Denver, South Park, & Pacific Railroad to pool 1,000 acres by March of 1880, for the Denver, South Park, & Pacific rail yard, and the town to surround it. Always threatened by the Denver, South Park, & Pacific, the Denver & Rio Grande then became 1/3 owner of West Gunnison Town & Land Company, protecting local right-of-ways for their railroad. Palmer planned to set up his depot where the La Veta Hotel would later be built, but could not reach an agreement on a price with property owner Louden Mullen, which Palmer felt that he wanted too much money for the property. So the Denver & Rio Grande built their passenger depot on 14th Street & Bidwell Avenue.
The area holds bragging rights to what many consider to be the country’s best fly-fishing and big game hunting. Snow sports are the hot ticket during winter, while warm summer months provide some of the most scenic hiking and camping in the Rockies. Bird watchers will enjoy sighting an American Bald Eagle or Red Tailed Hawk, while botanists will delight at the bloom of summer wildflowers throughout the local mountains. Whether you like to "Rage in the Sage" or pedal leisurely along a country road, cycling here is as good as it gets. White water rafting and kayaking is a hoot. The Gunnison Parks and Recreation Department provides opportunities for field and court sports during summer months, ice-skating and hockey in the winter.