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The Town of Parachute is a Statutory Town in Garfield County, Colorado, United States. The population was 1,085 at the 2010 census.
The town is the birthplace of Willard Libby, recipient of the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Parachute is located at 39°27′6″N 108°3′6″W (39.451732, -108.051530), on the northwest side of the Colorado River where it is joined by Parachute Creek. Interstate 70 passes through the town, with access from Exit 75. I-70 leads east 42 miles (68 km) to Glenwood Springs, the county seat, and southwest 44 miles (71 km) to Grand Junction. Parachute is bordered to the southeast across the Colorado River by the unincorporated community of Battlement Mesa.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.67 square miles (4.32 km2), of which 1.61 square miles (4.16 km2) is land and 0.062 square miles (0.16 km2), or 3.70%, is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,006 people, 381 households, and 233 families residing in the town. The population density was 851.2 people per square mile (329.2/km²). There were 415 housing units at an average density of 351.1 per square mile (135.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 86.88% White, 0.80% African American, 1.59% Native American, 0.40% Asian, 0.70% Pacific Islander, 5.67% from other races, and 3.98% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19.78% of the population.
There were 381 households out of which 39.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.7% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.8% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.42.
In the town, the population was spread out with 34.2% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 15.4% from 45 to 64, and 8.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $31,208, and the median income for a family was $34,423. Males had a median income of $31,118 versus $21,875 for females. The per capita income for the town was $14,114. About 7.7% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.1% of those under age 18 and 22.5% of those age 65 or over.
The town was named after Parachute Creek, that flowed into town from the northwest. According to legend, a member of the Hayden Survey in 1879 noted that the watershed patterns of the Roan Plateau, north of present-day Parachute, resembled parachute lines and chose the name "Parachute" for the area. On maps of the area, several streams converge on the town like the shroud lines of a parachute, and the arc of the ridge line above the streams resembles the canopy of a parachute.
However, according to a June 30, 1910, edition of the local newspaper, the town's name came from the Ute word Pahchouc, which meant "twins" and referred to a stream that ran between two nearly identical mountains.
In 1908, the name of the town was changed to "Grand Valley" to lure travelers on their way to the Grand Valley, which is the Colorado River valley to the southwest known for its fruit production. After the local history Lest We Forget was published in the late 1970s, the town voted to return the name "Parachute" to the town; the name was changed in the 1980s.
This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Parachute has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.
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