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Alamosa is a city under Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Alamosa County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 8,780 at the 2010 United States Census. The city is the commercial center of the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado, and is the home of Adams State University.
Alamosa was established in May 1878 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and quickly became an important rail center. The railroad had an extensive construction, repair and shipping facility in Alamosa for many years and headquartered its remaining narrow gauge service here with trackage reaching many points throughout southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico. Alamosa is now a notable tourist town with many nearby attractions, including the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and Colorado Gators Reptile Park. The town hosts "Summer Fest on the Rio" which occurs the first weekend in June, the Early Iron car show over the Labor Day weekend, and "Weekends on the Rio" on various Sundays throughout the summer The city takes its name from the Spanish adjective Alamosa, meaning "of cottonwood", for the cottonwood forests which grow along the Rio Grande and throughout town.
Alamosa is located at 37°28′N 105°52′W (37.469, −105.874), at the junction of U.S. Routes 160 and 285. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.5 square miles (14.3 km2), of which 5.4 square miles (14.0 km2) is land and 0.12 square miles (0.3 km2), or 2.26%, is water.
Alamosa is located along the Rio Grande in the San Luis Valley, in the highest general agricultural land in the United States. The San Luis Valley is the largest intermountain valley in the world, where local farmers specialize in growing cool weather crops. Elevation is about 7,500 feet (2,300 m) in Alamosa with peaks over 14,000 feet (4,300 m) within 23 miles (37 km) of town in the Sangre de Cristo Range.
Alamosa features a cold desert climate (Köppen BWk) with long, cold winters and warm summers, and dry weather year-round. Normals range from a low of −4 °F (−20 °C) in January to a high of 82 °F (28 °C) in July. Annual precipitation is only 7.25 inches (184 mm), with summer being the wettest. The aridity depresses mean snowfall to around 32 inches (81 cm), and the median to only 22.3 inches (57 cm).
The altitude and dryness of the air cause day-night temperature differences to be severe year-round. Alamosa’s geography and nighttime temperatures account for it being listed as the coldest city in the contiguous United States, with a record average of 227 nights per year with a minimum temperature of 32 °F (0 °C) or less, and 48.7 nights with minima below 0 °F (−17.8 °C).
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,960 people, 2,974 households, and 1,769 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,995.0 people per square mile (770.3/km²). There were 3,215 housing units at an average density of 805.8 per square mile (311.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 68.53% White, 1.41% Black or African American, 2.20% Native American, 0.95% Asian, 0.26% Pacific Islander, 22.36% from other races, and 4.28% from two or more races. 46.80% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,974 households out of which 32.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.5% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.5% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city, the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 21.8% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $25,453, and the median income for a family was $33,017. Males had a median income of $27,100 versus $22,671 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,405. About 18.1% of families and 25.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.4% of those under age 18 and 17.0% of those age 65 or over.
The city of Alamosa is a Home Rule Municipality like many other Colorado towns. The City Council has six members, four elected from wards and two at large. The Council has authority to make, change, and repeal laws and ordinances. The city elects a mayor-at-large on a non-partisan ballot. The current mayor of Alamosa is Ty Coleman.
Alamosa Public Schools are part of the Alamosa School District RE-11J, and include Alamosa Elementary School, Ortega Middle School, and Alamosa High School. Robert Alejo is the Superintendent of Schools.
Adams State University, founded in 1921 as a teacher's college, offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. Graduate level programs emphasize teaching and education, art, history and business. Many courses are available online. In 2015, the college reached an all-time high enrollment of 3,701 students. The University's location in Alamosa, with an elevation of about 7,800 ft above sea level, attracts many athletes (especially runners) to the school's athletic program. In 2014, ASU added a cycling program.
Alamosa is on the Rio Grande River, which is crossed by two auto bridges, one pedestrian bridge and one rail bridge in town. Auto traffic is served by U.S. Highway 160 running east and west and U.S. Highway 285 and State Highway 17 running north and south. Alamosa is served by the San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad. The local airport is San Luis Valley Regional Airport.
Alamosa is the shopping center for the San Luis Valley and has a Walmart Supercenter, a Walgreens and two supermarkets, Safeway and City Market. There are a number of fast food restaurants, two medical clinics, and a regional hospital, San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center.
Adams State University is located in Alamosa. ASU is a four-year, state-supported university founded in 1921 and offering degrees in several fields including business and education.
Trinidad State Junior College has a campus situated in Alamosa. They offer 2-year degrees in gunsmithing, aquaculture, cosmetology, welding and nursing, as well as traditional arts and sciences classes like English, physics and chemistry.
Alamosa is home of Cattails Golf Course, an 18-hole championship course with a clubhouse that opened in 2008.
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