Old Colorado Apples

This class (video recording) was paid for in part by a History Colorado, State Historical Fund grant (Project Number #2018-M1-020). The content and opinions contained do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of History Colorado.


Purpose: Early fruit growers were told that orchards would not grow at Colorado’s high elevations. Defying convention, they experimented aggressively and planted hundreds of fruit varieties at a time that now represents the height or Golden Age of North America’s fruit diversity. Rewarded for their efforts, by 1900, homestead and commercial orchards were well established across Colorado, all regions winning premiums for their crops. Apples dominated Colorado’s early orchards, but by the 1920’s the national trend had turned to the shiny red apple, and growers were told to grow no more than three kinds. Yet, remnants of this early diversity remain in Colorado’s landscape for you to learn about and preserve today.

Outcomes (you will be able to):

  • Recall and describe several varieties of apples historically grown inColorado including their season of ripening, use, and rarity.
  • Explain the great diversity of heritage apple varieties introduced to Colorado at the turn of the 20th century.
  • Express why certain varieties were selected by our early fruit growers and what led to their decline.
  • Relate why Colorado apples were historically renowned for their quality, and types of awards won.
  • Discuss how apples are propagated, and steps you can take to preserve historic Colorado apple varieties today.

Recommended reading: Colorado’s Fruit Growing History: Historic Context of Orchards

Read more