The county seat (1884, 4,330 feet) began as a frontier outpost of sod and adobe buildings around a parade ground. Abner Baker, a member of the Greeley Union Colony, platted a town near the abandoned fort in 1884. The community developed after 1900 primarily as a live-stock, truck gardening, and irrigated farming center. The skyline is dominated by the gleaming white sugar bins of the Great Western Sugar plant (1906). These round towers in a stepped, graceful composition hover above the gabled, red brick, four-story plant, one of the last operating among a dozen sugar refineries that once hummed in South Platte valley towns between Brighton and Sterling.
Fort Morgan is perfumed by a major meat packing plant and various feedlots. Extensive oil and natural gas development have augmented the agrarian economy to make this a livelier town than many on the high plains. Fort Morgan Junior College occupies a small campus on the east side of town. Unusually progressive commission government established municipal utilities and a brightly lit commercial core for the “City of Lights,” which welcomes visitors, especially on the first Wednesday in August with its “Howdy Day.” The town's pride and progressive spirit are reflected in the original Classical Revival city hall (1908, Marean and Norton), 110 Main Street (NR), still owned by the city as income property. Next door is the towering 1903 standpipe of the municipal water company.
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