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Walsenburg is a statutory city that is the county seat and the most populous city of Huerfano County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 3,068 at the 2010 census, down from 4,182 in 2000.
Robert Ford, the assassin of outlaw Jesse James, operated a combination saloon and gambling house in Walsenburg; his home at 320 West 7th Street still stands.
A post office called Walsenburg has been in operation since 1870. The community was named after Fred Walsen, an early settler.
Walsenburg is mentioned in the famous Woody Guthrie song, "Ludlow Massacre". The song recounts an attack by the Colorado National Guard and armed Colorado Fuel & Iron Company camp guards on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado, on April 20, 1914. Some two dozen people, including women and children, were killed. The first instance of violence in Walsenburg during the coal strikes is known as the Seventh Street Massacre where a total of three miners died. Walsenburg also became one of the most deadly of all the Ten Days War encounters on April 27, 1914. On this day around 25 people would die. The town is also remembered in sports history due to a famous newspaper gaffe ("Will Overhead") after the 1933 Indianapolis 500.
Walsenburg is located in east-central Huerfano County, on the north side of the Cucharas River at the eastern edge of the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Interstate 25 runs along the eastern edge of the city, with access from Exits 49, 50, and 52. I-25 leads north 48 miles (77 km) to Pueblo and south 36 miles (58 km) to Trinidad. U.S. Route 160 passes through the center of Walsenburg, leading west across North La Veta Pass 72 miles (116 km) to Alamosa and south with I-25 to Trinidad. Colorado State Highway 10 leads northeast from Walsenburg 73 miles (117 km) to La Junta.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Walsenburg has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.2 km2), all of it land.
The Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center is located 2 miles (3 km) west of Walsenburg on US 160, opposite the entrance to Lathrop State Park. The building houses a state-operated veterans retirement home and a community hospital that serves the area.
Lathrop State Park, located 2 miles (3 km) west of the city limits of Walsenburg, is Colorado's first state park and is over 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) in size. Martin Lake and Horseshoe Lake offer fishing stocked by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, water skiing, boating, and jet skiing. Hiking and camping are other activities in the park, and it is the only state park in Colorado with a golf course.
The Spanish Peaks, 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Walsenburg are a national landmark and have been named one of "Colorado's Seven Wonders" by The Denver Post. The Highway of Legends, connecting Walsenburg with La Veta, other historic mining towns, and Trinidad, is a National Scenic Byway.
The Walsenburg Golf Course is a 9-hole public golf course open for play year round. The city opened a two-million dollar water park, "Walsenburg Wild Waters", after efforts by former mayor Maurice Brau and the City Council, on May 27, 2007.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,182 people, 1,497 households, and 881 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,795.2 people per square mile (693.0/km²). There were 1,723 housing units at an average density of 739.6 per square mile (285.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.99% White, 4.78% African American, 3.35% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 12.46% from other races, and 3.95% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 50.96% of the population.
There were 1,497 households out of which 25.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.1% were non-families. 37.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the city, the population was spread out with 20.9% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 133.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 141.1 males.
John Mall High School is the local high school. It is the only high school in Huerfano District Re-1. In the 2012-2013 school year, there was a total enrollment of 116 students. 56% of the enrollment was male and 44% was female. There was a student to teacher ratio of 14:1, which is lower than the Colorado state average of 16:1. 66% of the student body identified as a minority, with most of them being Hispanic. The state average of minority enrollment is 44%. 71% of the students came from an economically disadvantaged household. Over five years, the district has seen a 5% decrease in the number of students enrolled. The graduation rate is 53%, which is lower than the state average of 78%. Over five years, the graduation average in the district has fallen from 71% to 57%.
Notable individuals who were born in or have lived in Walsenburg include:
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