11. The Colfax Colony

Mile marker 54.3, Highway 69

 Little physical evidence remains of Carl Wulsten's grand experiment at forming Colorado's first colony in 1870. He organized German Colonization Society by recruiting a group of German immigrant families who had critical skills. Many were disenchanted with the crowded living conditions and poor working environment in the factories of Chicago and shared a longing to own their own land. This opportunity beckoned West.

The colonists arrived in the Wet Mountain Valley on March 21, 1870. They established the town of Colfax, named after Schulyer Colfax, vice President of the United States, who they thought would assist in awarding them a land grant. The colony never did receive title to the land and after a year the colony came to an end. Many of these industrious people stayed in the valley as homesteaders, workers and store owners.

Today evidence of the German Colony can be seen as one views the Hope Lutheran Church that stands in the Town of Westcliffe. The congregation was formed in a log cabin in 1872, making it one of the oldest Lutheran congregations in Colorado. Names of the descendants of the colony families are found today on Custer County rosters.