Elbert County (1874) is named for Colorado territorial governor Samuel Hitt Elbert, the son-in-law of an earlier territorial governor, John Evans. Evans's Denver & New Orleans Railroad ran from Denver through Elizabeth and Elbert, towns he also named for in-laws, in the west end of the county.
Relatively high, wet terrain makes Elbert one of the more verdant of the high plains counties. The west end of the county is carpeted by the ponderosa pine of the Black Forest, and early sawmills and lumberyards in the towns of Elbert and Elizabeth supplied pioneer Denver and Colorado Springs, as well as the frame towns of the plains. Rolling prairies flow eastward out of the pine forests, creating expansive pastoral vistas of Pikes Peak to the southwest, and a landscape dotted with villages, farms, and ranches.
With a population under 10,000, this county is dominated by its natural landscape rather than its built environment. In a largely unpopulated setting, long, unbroken barbed wire fences are often the only evidence of human presence. This may change: the county's population jumped from 6,850 in 1980 to 9,646 in 1990. As metropolitan Denver residents move to “the country,” subdivisions are sprouting amid the sunflowers.
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