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The City of Montrose is the Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Montrose County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 19,132 at the 2010 United States Census. The main road that leads in and out of Montrose is U.S. Highway 50. The town is located in cardinal-western Colorado, in the upper Uncompahgre Valley and is an economic, labor, and transportation waypoint for the surrounding recreation industry. Demographically, the town is majority white, with a large Hispanic population. It is also the home of a few major engineering projects, namely the Gunnison Tunnel.
Montrose was incorporated on May 2, 1882 and named after Sir Walter Scott's novel A Legend of Montrose. The Denver & Rio Grande railroad was built west toward Grand Junction and reached Montrose later in 1882, and the town became an important regional shipping center. A branch railroad line served the mineral-rich San Juan Mountains to the south.
In 1909 the U.S. government completed construction of the Gunnison Tunnel, which provided irrigation water from the Gunnison River in the Black Canyon to the Uncompahgre Valley, helping turn Montrose into an agricultural hub. The Uncompahgre Project is one of the oldest of those in the area by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The canal is also used for recreation: water rushing through the canal below the tunnel creates a kayak-surfing spot called the M-wave. However, the wave is on private property and is unsafe for inexperienced riders.
Tourist and recreation opportunities are important to the regional economy. Montrose is a gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to the east of town. In the winter, it is a transportation hub for ski areas of the San Juan Mountains to the south.
Early in the area's history, prehistoric people lived in the vicinity and left rock art panels at the Shavano Valley Rock Art Site from 1000 BC or earlier until about AD 1881. The panels recorded cultural events and were a means of artistic expression. The site is listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties and the National Register of Historic Places.
Montrose is the birthplace of American screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo, who scripted films including Roman Holiday, Exodus, Spartacus and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.4 square miles (48 km2); all of it is land.
Montrose is in the south end of the Uncompahgre valley, and is built on the Uncompahgre river. It is surrounded by, to the north, Grand Mesa, to the east, the Black Canyon, to the south, the San Juan Mountains, and to the west the Uncompahgre Plateau. The valley is arid, and is only arable due to the water from the Gunnison Tunnel.
Montrose features a semi-arid Continental climate zone. The town sits on high grasslands in the Uncompahgre Valley of Western Colorado. Snowfall occurs during the winter but is usually short lived due to the high altitude and abundant sunshine.
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,344 people, 5,244 households, and 3,319 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,076.3 people per square mile (415.5/km²). There were 5,581 housing units at an average density of 486.6 per square mile (187.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.01% White, 0.44% African American, 0.98% Native American, 0.58% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 6.55% from other races, and 2.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.36% of the population.
There were 5,244 households, out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.8% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.7% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.88.
In the city, the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 20.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,750, and the median income for a family was $42,017. Males had a median income of $30,674 versus $21,067 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,097. About 11.3% of families and 14.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.9% of those under age 18 and 9.8% of those age 65 or over.
Montrose is known as a manufacturing hub for outdoor products, with fly-fishing companies Ross Reels and Scott Fly Rods both located in Montrose since 1983 and 1993, respectively. In addition, Gordon Composites, maker of nearly 90 percent of the high-performance laminate material used in the bow-hunting industry, is located in Montrose. Colorado Yurt Company, maker of handcrafted yurts, tipis and rugged canvas wall tents, is also located in Montrose.
As of 2015, the Montrose City Council was pursuing outdoor recreation businesses to boost the local economy, most recently with Mayfly Outdoors. Mayfly Outdoors is the owner of Ross Reels, Abel Automatics, Inc. (California), and Charlton (Washington) fly fishing brands. In addition, the City is planning for major river corridor construction and restoration with the companies, which it plans to use to attract more businesses to the City and promote tourism.
In November 2017, the City approved a $10 million fund for building public infastrucure improvements within the Colorado Outdoors development, and was the recipient of a $2 million GOCO grant for a new trail system. The GOCO grant award was the largest single grant awarded to the City of Montrose in its history, and connects the newly built, $30 million Montrose Recreation Center to the Colorado Outdoors project, safely under-passing both major highways within the City.
Montrose Regional Airport serves the Montrose area with regional service to Denver. As the nearest major airport to the Telluride Ski Area, Montrose sees heavy seasonal service.
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