LaSalle, Colorado - 1910
On September 13th, 1869, the Denver Pacific Railroad (later became Union Pacific Railroad), started laying tracks from Denver to Cheyenne. With the project complete on May 8, 1870, the first train (Union Pacific Number 28) steamed its way through present day LaSalle, signaling the beginning of our community.
The name LaSalle comes from an early settler to the area, D. S. Ellis. Mr. Ellis had come from LaSalle, Illinois, a town on the outskirts of Chicago named for the LaSalle Street Railroad Station in Chicago.
Railroad improvements were made slowly from 1881 to 1906. A siding, additional wye, elevated coal facility and depot were constructed during this time. The original depot burned in 1906 and was completely replaced in 1907 with a new, larger depot (what is now the McMahan Community Center). By 1910 LaSalle had become the northern base of operations for the Union Pacific Railroad. An engine round house, large livestock yard, and 65,000 gallon water tank were constructed.
With the railroad's significant investment in the area, the town began to grow. In 1910 the LaSalle area had a handful of cafés, service-oriented businesses and:
- Pharmacy (2)
- General store
- Grocery store
- Pool hall
- Barber shop
- Lumber yard
The area citizens voted 67-39 in favor of incorporation and on April 18th,1910 LaSalle was officially a town.
The all-volunteer LaSalle Fire Department was incorporated in 1910. LaSalle had its first street lights installed in 1913. The water tower on the east side of town, as well as underground water lines and fire hydrants, were installed in 1917. A town wide sewer system was installed in 1939. In the 1920s and 30s, local residents enjoyed theater, bowling, and roller-skating in the two-story Crystal Theater on Union Avenue. Baseball was the town's favorite past time. An old informal ball field in between the railroad tracks was turned into a polished facility with lights and bleachers in 1948.
In 1952, Maurice (Mac) McMahan was elected the Mayor of the Town of LaSalle. Mac, owner of the Weld County Service Station, served as Mayor for 28 years (until 1980). The old Union Pacific Train Depot has been restored as a community center and is named in his honor.
A Bedroom Community
Moderate growth and the centralization of services in Greeley over the past three decades has changed the face of LaSalle. Many of the long time businesses have been replaced and most shoppers find themselves in Greeley purchasing supplies. However, the LaSalle community has thrived in its new roll as a bedroom community. Union Pacific Railroad and the agricultural industry remain central to our community. The oil and gas companies have found a new home in LaSalle, likely driving our community's economy for the next few decades. One thing unlikely to change is the small town atmosphere.