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Arvada is a Home Rule Municipality in Jefferson and Adams counties, a part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area of the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census the population was 106,433, and in 2016 the estimated population was 117,453, ranking Arvada as the seventh most populous municipality in Colorado. The Olde Town Arvada historic district is 7 miles (11 km) northwest of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.
The first documented discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountain region occurred on June 22, 1850, when Lewis Ralston, a Georgia prospector headed for the California gold fields, dipped his sluice pan into a small stream near its mouth at Clear Creek. Ralston found about 1/4 ounce (6 g) of gold, then worth about five dollars. Ralston’s companions named the stream Ralston’s Creek in his honor, but they all left the next morning, drawn by the lure of California gold.
During the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush in 1858, Ralston brought another group of prospectors back to the site of his first discovery. The placer gold in the area soon played out, but hard rock deposits of gold were found in the mountains to the west. Some of the miners abandoned their search for gold and returned to farm the rich bottom land along Ralston Creek and Clear Creek. They found an eager market for their crops among other gold seekers. The Territory of Colorado was formed on February 28, 1861, and the farms in the valley expanded to feed the growing population of the region.
In 1870, the Colorado Central Railroad laid tracks through the area on its route from Golden to link up with the Kansas Pacific Railroad and the Denver Pacific Railroad at Jersey Junction, 3 miles (5 km) north of Denver. On December 1, 1870, Benjamin F. Wadsworth and Louis A. Reno platted the Ralston Point townsite along the railroad. To avoid confusion with other communities along Ralston Creek, Ralston Point was soon renamed Arvada in honor of Hiram Arvada Haskin, brother-in-law of settler Mary Wadsworth. Her husband, Benjamin Wadsworth, became the first postmaster of Arvada. Colorado was granted statehood on August 1, 1876, and the Town of Arvada was formally incorporated on August 14, 1904. A vibrant agricultural community, Arvada claimed the title “Celery Capital of the World.”
Arvada grew rapidly during the latter half of the 20th century as a suburb of nearby Denver, the state capital. Arvada became a Statutory City on October 31, 1951, and a Home Rule Municipality on July 23, 1963. By the end of the millennium, the population of Arvada exceeded 100,000.
Arvada is the western terminus of Interstate 76, which begins at the intersection of Interstate 70 and State Highway 121. Other state highways in Arvada include SH 72, SH 93, and SH 95. Major highways near Arvada include Interstate 25, Interstate 270, U.S. Highway 36 and U.S. Highway 287.
The Amtrak California Zephyr passes through Arvada westbound each morning and eastbound each evening. This route through the scenic heart of the Rocky Mountains is one of the most popular rail routes in the United States. Full Amtrak passenger and parcel service is available at the nearby Denver Union Station.
The Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) currently serves Arvada with eight local bus routes (31, 50, 51, 52, 72, 76, 80, and 100), four express bus routes (55X, 58X, 72X, and 80X), and one regional bus route (GS). RTD plans to provide Arvada with a commuter rail Gold Line along the old Colorado Central Railroad route (now operated by the BNSF Railway) by 2015.
Arvada is served by Denver International Airport and nearby Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport.
In 2014 the League of American Bicyclists designated Arvada as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community.
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