From the River Bottom to the Bluff

Originally home to nomadic bands of the Arapaho, the Little Thompson River Valley became the domain of the white man in the 1860s when new arrivals to the Colorado Territory turned their attention from nearby mining districts to homestead claims along the river.

Among these early homesteaders was Lewis Cross who became postmaster of the “Little Thompson” post office in 1875. In 1877 when the Colorado Central Railroad laid tracks across the Little Thompson River and beside the Cross ranch, the small settlement on Cross’s homestead informally known as Little Thompson was named Berthoud in honor of Capt. E.L. Berthoud who had surveyed the rail route through the region.

Berthoud remained at its river bottom location until the railroad company requested the town be moved to the bluff to the north where homesteader Peter Turner had platted a new town site. When the town was relocated in the winter of 1883-84 it took the name Berthoud with it and the original settlement became known as “Old Berthoud.”

At its new location Berthoud began to grow into a lively agricultural center of southern Larimer County. Within a few years the town stretched for three blocks along the railroad tracks and boasted a small business district, flour mill and residential neighborhoods containing 200 residents.