The Hayden area's first settlers, who arrived around 1875, were certain that their hamlet would become the hub of Northwest Colorado. The first regional trading post, Routt County Courthouse, and U.S. post office were established here on the banks of the Yampa River. Nestled in the Yampa's wide, verdant, high-country valley at 6,300 vertical feet, the energetic little town's future was peopled by an assortment of penniless yet hopeful dreamers as well as enterprising ranchers and other businessmen. Ezekiel Shelton brought his family and a myriad of skills. Jim Norvell drifted in on foot and with a few dollars established a mercantile and saloon and later, after "finding religion," a church. While the towns of Craig to the west and Steamboat Springs to the east grew, Hayden retained its familial descendants – "stayers" – enamored of their corner of the beautiful Rocky Mountains and sheltered from most severe weather in the Yampa Valley.
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