is a small hamlet in eastern Boulder County, nestled beneath giant
cottonwoods and bordered on two sides by farmland. Located midway
between Boulder and Longmont, its streets parallel the Burlington
Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks.
paved streets and street lights which were added in 1993, it still
resembles an agricultural community from the early 1900s.
The town was named for Chief Niwot, leader of the Northern Arapaho
Indians who occupied this area when the first white settlers arrived
in 1859. "Niwot" means "Left Hand" in the
Arapaho language and the surrounding area soon became known as
the Left Hand Valley.
Arrival of the Colorado Central Railroad in Boulder County paved
the way for Niwot's settlement. The railroad advanced from Golden
to Boulder in 1873, and by fall it had been extended twelve miles
further into Longmont.
those two communities was a section house which became the nucleus
for the county's first railroad town. Platted in 1875, Niwot straddled
both sides of the tracks.
district developed to the west of the section house while most
of the town's residents lived on the east side.
Once a depot
was constructed, local farmers could ship their cattle directly
to the Denver stockyards and their produce to nearby Boulder and
A United Brethren
church stood in a field west of town, its spire visible for miles.
Not far away, children attended a one-room schoolhouse which predated
the town by several years. Beyond lay a small cemetery which was
donated to the town by a local farmer so that his young son could
be buried close to his family.
century brought many changes to Niwot, when most of its businesses
moved across the track.
commercial building to be constructed on the east side was John
Nelson's meeting hall at the corner of Second Avenue and Franklin.
upstairs room afforded meeting space for several lodges and social
groups including the Odd Fellows, Royal Neighbors, and Rebekahs.
It also accommodated movies, lyceums and plays for local entertainment.
The downstairs space was rented to the town barber and to grocer
Reverend William Taylor.
come to Niwot as a United Brethren preacher before venturing into
the retail trade.
the town grew, Niwot welcomed its first doctor and soon had its
own weekly newspaper. In the ensuing years, an alfalfa mill, flour
mill, hotel, bank and milk distribution center came to town.
Branch of the
Longmont Farmer's Mill
In 1916, the
Great Western Sugar Company erected a beet loading ramp across
from the depot. Every October, Main Street was lined with beet
wagons waiting to dump their loads into empty boxcars.
A baseball team, The Niwot Farmers, was formed and traveled on
weekends to neighboring towns for games.
military band was organized under the leadership of local farmer
John Hill. The band performed on the band stand in front of the
bank, participated in parades and played at the county fair.
In the 1940s, the Left Hand Grange purchased John Nelson's hall.
Today, it is one of only three remaining active granges in the
It is still the social center of the community and stands proudly
as the tallest building in town.
Nothing remains of the original businesses west of the tracks.
They, along with the depot and the old brick elementary school
were razed or moved in the 1950s when the Diagonal Highway was
constructed between Longmont and Boulder.
Niwot is no longer an agricultural community, and the train doesn't
stop there anymore.
subdivisions now border the town on two sides and a few manufacturing
plants are only miles away.
But the first block east of the tracks will remain as it appears
today, thanks to the creation of the Niwot Historic District in
will preserve the authenticity of the historic structures which
were built along the railroad tracks over a century ago.