October 15, 2020
Montrose is the Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Montrose County, Colorado. The city population was 19,132 at the 2010 United States Census. The main road that leads in and out of Montrose is U.S. Highway 50. The town is located in cardinal-western Colorado, in the upper Uncompahgre Valley and is an economic, labor, and transportation waypoint for the surrounding recreation industry. It is also the home of a few major engineering projects, namely the Gunnison Tunnel.
Montrose was incorporated on May 2, 1882 and named after Sir Walter Scott's novel A Legend of Montrose by Oliver D. "Pappy" Loutzenhizer and Joseph Selig. The Denver & Rio Grande railroad was built west toward Grand Junction and reached Montrose later in 1882, and the town became an important regional shipping center. A branch railroad line served the mineral-rich San Juan Mountains to the south.
In 1909 the U.S. government completed construction of the Gunnison Tunnel, which provided irrigation water from the Gunnison River in the Black Canyon to the Uncompahgre Valley, helping turn Montrose into an agricultural hub. The Uncompahgre Project is one of the oldest of those in the area by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Early in the area's history, prehistoric people lived in the vicinity and left rock art panels at the Shavano Valley Rock Art Site from 1000 BC or earlier until about AD 1881. The panels recorded cultural events and were a means of artistic expression. The site is listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties and the National Register of Historic Places.
Montrose is the birthplace of American screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo, who scripted films including Roman Holiday, Exodus, Spartacus and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.
Due its relative affordability and proximity to many world-class outdoor recreation activities, Montrose is known as a manufacturing hub for outdoor products. Fly-fishing companies Ross Reels, Abel, and Airflo are headquartered in the city. Additionally, Scott Fly Rods relocated to Montrose from Telluride in 1993. Gordon Composites, maker of nearly 90 percent of the high-performance laminate material used in the bow-hunting industry, is located in Montrose. Colorado Yurt Company, maker of handcrafted yurts, tipis and rugged canvas wall tents, is also located in Montrose.
The Gunnison Tunnel canal is used for recreation: water rushing through the canal below the tunnel creates a kayak-surfing spot called the M-wave.
Tourist and recreation opportunities are important to the regional economy. Montrose is a gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to the east of town. In the winter, it is a transportation hub for ski areas of the San Juan Mountains to the south.
In November 2017, the City approved a $10 million fund for public infrastructure improvements within the Colorado Outdoors development, and was the recipient of a $2 million grant for a new trail system. The GOCO grant was the largest single grant awarded to the City of Montrose in its history, and connects the newly built, $30 million Montrose Recreation Center to the project, safely under-passing both major highways within the City.
The Montrose Urban Renewal Authority the taxing entity in partnership with the Colorado Outdoors project, was the recipient of 2019 Governors Award from Downtown Colorado, Inc for Best Urban Renewal project.
Russell Stover Candies announced in January 2020 that it would be closing its Montrose plant in the spring of 2021, eliminating 400 jobs and offering employees to relocate to plants in Kansas and Texas. The plant is listed as a "primary employer" for the city on its Economic Development Corporation website.