History of Louisville

The history of Louisville, Colorado is most easily captured in the Miners’ Memorial Statue at the City Hall; it serves as a symbol of the history of the people who made the town of Louisville the coal mines and coal mining industry.

In August 1877 the first coal mine, the Welch Mine, was opened and Louis Nawatny, a land owner in the area, platted his farm land into the town which he named for himself–Louisville. Nawatny registered his plat in February, 1878. Coal miners moved to the new town to work in, the new, safer mine, and from the beginning, Louisville was different from most coal-camp towns. Miners lived in, the town and walked, to their work at the mines.

Louisville is an area that was known as the Northern Coal Field, an extensive coal field in Boulder and Weld County. Wages in the early days of coal mining were relatively high in the Louisville mines, and the mines were relatively safe. However, because the mining was seasonal and strikes too often interrupted production, the economy was generally depressed. Family gardens and odd jobs were the way of life during summertime unemployment.

From 1890 to 1928 the Acme Mine operated directly beneath the original town of Louisville. Worked on two levels, the Acme produced nearly two million tons of coal and was one of 171 coal mines in Boulder County. There were 30 mines that opened in and around Louisville. During the peak years of 1907 to 1909 there were 12 mines in operation. The use of coal declined following World War II and the last mines near Louisville closed in 1952.

Many Europeans migrated to Louisville to work in the mines. Some came because jobs were plentiful and they learned the skills to become miners, some continued the mining skills they had used in Europe, and some probably were recruited as strike breakers during the several union disagreements with coal companies. They worked together in the mines, but they lived with their own relatives and fellow countrymen as neighbors. The neighborhood of Italians and French have gone just as the signs of the coal mines. Flowers grow in yards with never a hint of the passageways underground.

The community has become a middle-class haven where the workers leave for all manner of jobs in every direction. In recent years manufacturing plants have opened in Louisville providing employment opportunities and attracting new residents.

The unique history of Louisville and the rich cultural contributions give the community a character not to be found in the new suburbs.

-“The Louisville Story” by Carolyn Conarroe