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Prior to the 1850's the area that was to become Westminster, Colorado was inhabited by herds of buffalo and antelope, and the Arapaho Amerinidans most likely maintained a semipermanent encampment in the vicinity of Gregory Hill.
Things began to change with the discovery of gold on Little Dry Creek in 1858, which began Colorado's gold rush and the subsequent population boom. Jim Baker, called "The Forgotten Mountain Man" and honored in the State Capitol as the first Anglo pioneer in Colorado, settled on land near 52nd and Tennyson in 1859, and homesteaded in 1863. He operated a toll ferry and store across Clear Creek, and the spot where the old Cherokee Trail crossed the stream became known as Baker's Crossing.
Baker left Colorado in 1871 to live in Snake River, Wyoming, but Pleasant DeSpain became the first permanent settler in Westminster in 1870, when he built a farmhouse near the intersection of 76th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard. Other settlers followed, and the area soon became known as DeSpain Junction. The village of DeSpain Junction grew into a small farming community complete with blacksmith shop, lumber store, and general store, and the railroad arrived in 1881. At the request of C.J. Harris, a local real estate developer from Connecticut who had arrived in 1885, the town was renamed "Harris" (carpe diem!).