The discovery of gold in Boulder Creek and its tributaries led to the creation in 1861 of a county stretching from the eastern high plains to 14,256-foot Longs Peak and the Continental Divide. Mining, agriculture, and the University of Colorado provided the economic base, now bolstered by expanding scientific, commercial, and manufacturing enterprises. Roosevelt National Forest, Indian Peaks Wilderness, and Rocky Mountain National Park, all located in the mountainous western half of the county, make tourism another important part of the economy.
Boulder County is named for the rocky creek that flows from the Continental Divide through mining towns to the county seat of the same name. The city of Boulder, the county's oldest and largest community, has set a national example in growth management. Boulder's controls, however, have merely diverted growth to the surrounding communities of Louisville, Longmont, Lafayette, and Broomfield. While Boulder's population has remained fairly steady, the county grew from 131,889 in 1970 to 225,329 in 1990.
County builders have used pink sandstone from quarries around the town of Lyons. This gorgeous stone, often set in sun-catching rimrock and hogbacks, is a remnant of the sandy beaches of the great inland sea now replaced by the prairie ocean.
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