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Mesa County

Mesa County

*All images courtesy of Chad Mahlum Photography

Mesa County is the fourth-largest and 11th most populous of the 64 counties in the state of Colorado. The county was named for the many large mesas in the area, including Grand Mesa, the largest flat-top mountain in the world, and is also home to the Colorado National Monument.

Grand Junction’s history dates back more than 100 years, starting in the 1880s when the area was part of the Northern Ute Reservation. When the area experienced a land rush settlement in September 1881, a town site was staked. Located in the Grand Valley, the town site was initially called Ute, but was re-named West Denver and eventually Grand Junction, an appropriate name for a city located at the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers.

By 1883, Mesa County was created from neighboring counties, and Grand Junction was named the county seat. Grand Junction began to thrive when the main line of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad came into the area in 1887. Soon after, major irrigation turned the Grand Valley into a fertile agricultural area.

Today, Grand Junction is home to a number of light manufacturing and service industries. There are also four area hospitals, a regional airport and a number of recreational opportunities. In addition, the Grand Valley has become known as 'Colorado’s Wine Country'.


The population of Mesa County has been steadily developing, with almost 20% between 2000 and 2008. In July 2007 the county’s population was 139,082 (85% urban and 15% rural), and according to the 2006 U.S. Census, 15.2% of the population was over 65 years old. The U.S. Census considers Mesa County to be a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

The 2008 cost of living index in Mesa County was 89.0 (compared to the U.S. average of 100).


According to the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, the main employers are the Mesa County School District, St. Mary’s Hospital and Medical Center, and Mesa State College. Top industries based on employment include retail trade, health care and social services, and accommodations and food service.

The Median Wage in Mesa County in 2007 was $16.61 per hour, or $34,681 per year.

Health & Emergency Services  

As the largest population center on the Western Slope, Mesa County – and specifically the Grand Junction area – is well-equipped with four full medical facilities, including a regional VA Medical Center; seven nursing homes; and 31 assisted living facilities. Fire department services include five stations, 119 employees and 29 paramedics.

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