A former school teacher turned Boulder County historian,
Anne Dyni...
writes a monthly history column for the Left Hand Valley Courier and has written four books and produced two videos on Boulder County history.

She currently volunteers for the Oral History Project at the Carnegie Branch Library for Local History in Boulder and she helps acquire artifacts for Boulder County Parks and Open Space at their Agricultural Heritage Center near Hygiene.

Anne's published work includes:


An oral history, which documents the agricultural history of Boulder County.

which describes the county's 67 early school districts.

which describes Niwot's history from 1875 to the 1970s, when the Longmont Diagonal Highway was completed.

which documents the history of Erie and its people from 1871 to the closing of the last Northern Coal Field mine in 1979.

Anne's books are available at the Yankee Doodler bookstore in Niwot, the
Lafayette Miners Museum
and at the Boulder History Museum.

They can also be purchased directly from:


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Niwot, Colorado
is a small hamlet in eastern Boulder County, nestled beneath giant cottonwoods and bordered on two sides by farmland. Located midway between Boulder and Longmont, its streets parallel the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks.

Despite paved streets and street lights which were added in 1993, it still resembles an agricultural community from the early 1900s.

The town was named for Chief Niwot, leader of the Northern Arapaho Indians who occupied this area when the first white settlers arrived in 1859. "Niwot" means "Left Hand" in the Arapaho language and the surrounding area soon became known as the Left Hand Valley.

Arrival of the Colorado Central Railroad in Boulder County paved the way for Niwot's settlement. The railroad advanced from Golden to Boulder in 1873, and by fall it had been extended twelve miles further into Longmont.

Halfway between those two communities was a section house which became the nucleus for the county's first railroad town. Platted in 1875, Niwot straddled both sides of the tracks.

A commercial district developed to the west of the section house while most of the town's residents lived on the east side.

Once a depot was constructed, local farmers could ship their cattle directly to the Denver stockyards and their produce to nearby Boulder and Longmont.

A United Brethren church stood in a field west of town, its spire visible for miles. Not far away, children attended a one-room schoolhouse which predated the town by several years. Beyond lay a small cemetery which was donated to the town by a local farmer so that his young son could be buried close to his family.

The twentieth century brought many changes to Niwot, when most of its businesses moved across the track.

The first commercial building to be constructed on the east side was John Nelson's meeting hall at the corner of Second Avenue and Franklin.

Its large upstairs room afforded meeting space for several lodges and social groups including the Odd Fellows, Royal Neighbors, and Rebekahs. It also accommodated movies, lyceums and plays for local entertainment. The downstairs space was rented to the town barber and to grocer Reverend William Taylor.

Taylor had come to Niwot as a United Brethren preacher before venturing into the retail trade.

As the town grew, Niwot welcomed its first doctor and soon had its own weekly newspaper. In the ensuing years, an alfalfa mill, flour mill, hotel, bank and milk distribution center came to town.

Niwot's Branch of the
Longmont Farmer's Mill

In 1916, the Great Western Sugar Company erected a beet loading ramp across from the depot. Every October, Main Street was lined with beet wagons waiting to dump their loads into empty boxcars.

A baseball team, The Niwot Farmers, was formed and traveled on weekends to neighboring towns for games.

An 18-piece military band was organized under the leadership of local farmer John Hill. The band performed on the band stand in front of the bank, participated in parades and played at the county fair.

In the 1940s, the Left Hand Grange purchased John Nelson's hall. Today, it is one of only three remaining active granges in the county.
It is still the social center of the community and stands proudly as the tallest building in town.

Nothing remains of the original businesses west of the tracks. They, along with the depot and the old brick elementary school were razed or moved in the 1950s when the Diagonal Highway was constructed between Longmont and Boulder.

Niwot is no longer an agricultural community, and the train doesn't stop there anymore.

Expensive subdivisions now border the town on two sides and a few manufacturing plants are only miles away.

But the first block east of the tracks will remain as it appears today, thanks to the creation of the Niwot Historic District in 1993.

This designation will preserve the authenticity of the historic structures which were built along the railroad tracks over a century ago.