Loveland is located 52 miles north of Denver off Interstate 25, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 34 and U.S. Highway 287. It is situated at the base of the foothills of Colorado’s Front Range, just east of the mouth of Big Thompson Canyon - within view of Longs Peak. According to the 2000 census, the city had a total population of just 50,608, but has been growing rapidly, since then.
Because it is so close to the Denver metro area and the neighboring towns of Boulder, Greeley and Ft. Collins, Loveland has become a bedroom community for commuters who work in those or other nearby towns, or attend nearby colleges.
Founded in 1877, along the newly-constructed line of the Colorado Central Railroad, the town was named in honor of William A.H. Loveland, who was the president of the railroad. With the advent of the railroad, Loveland became a shipping center for cattle ranchers and lumber companies, which sprung up as the town grew.
The region was once home to the Ute Indians, who lived and hunted there.The old Ute trail to the summer highlands starts just west of Loveland and ends near Grand Lake on the western side of the continental divide. Ute and Arapaho Indians traveled the trail over a century ago between their summer and winter hunting grounds. As frontier settlements flourished along both sides of the Continental Divide, travel over the Ute Trail became fairly regular. The route first used by the Indians is criss-crossed by today’sTrail Ridge Road. In 1858 settler's arrived, preceded by French and English trappers, who hunted, trapped and fished in the Rockies.
The town of Loveland began as an agricultural community, during the first half of the 1900’s with sugar beets and sour cherries as its main products. The Great Western Sugar Company built its first sugar plant in Loveland in 1901 and became a major economic force in the area until its closure in 1985.
During the late 1920's the Spring Glade
orchard, which was the largest cherry orchard west of the Mississippi River
during that time, produced more than $1 million worth of cherries each year.
Unfortunately, a series
of droughts, attacks of blight, followed by a
killer freeze destroyed the industry. By 1960 cherries were no longer grown in the area.
Loveland’s economy blossomed once again in the 60’s and 70’s with the arrival of technology companies that brought new jobs and growth to the area. Hewlett-Packard, Kodak, Teledyne Water Pik , and Hach became major employers in Loveland. In recent years, the city's retail business sector has also experienced major growth. Because it lies along at one of the principal routes to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, Loveland receives a significant tourist traffic in the summer months - a factor which has also contributed to its growth.
Loveland’s neighbor to the north is Fort Collins, which is also in Larimer County and is the county seat. The two cities have been steadily growing toward each other over the last several decades and now are considered to be a single metropolitan area by the U.S government.
Loveland has expanded its incorporated limits eastward to embrace the interchange of Interstate 25 and U.S. Highway 34, and is currently developing the area. In the last decade, the intersection has become a primary commercial hub of northern Colorado with the construction of shopping centers and the Budweiser Events Center. A new medical center and mall are also currently under construction.
Cultural arts thrive in Loveland with many musical organizations including bands and orchestras, choral groups, a community theater, and two dance centers. Loveland has a large population of artists and supports three foundries and an art museum. The Loveland Historic Museum/Gallery is a center for arts events, educational programs and exhibitions by regional, national and internationally recognized artists. The museum also has historical exhibits, which depict, Life on Main Street, Loveland's Great Western Sugar Factory, and other aspects of Loveland’s history.
Major events held during the summer months in Loveland, include the 4th of July festival, Sculpture in the Park, Art in the Park, the Larimer County Fair, and the annual Corn Roast Festival. Free summer concerts are held at Loveland’s Foote Lagoon.
Loveland is perhaps best known nationwide as the home of the Valentine Re-Mailing Program. Every year hundreds of thousands of Valentines are packaged inside larger envelopes and sent to Loveland, where volunteers hand-stamp them with a Valentine's verse and send them on to the intended recipients marked, “From Loveland.”