Why is our town called Nederland?

Our area has undergone many changes in the 150 years as a settlement and town. First in the area were Native American groups who hunted and traveled through here for generations. In the mid-19th century the first white homesteaders who settled here gave it a variety of names. First known as Dayton, then Brownsville, and in 1871, when the first post office was located here, it was called Middle Boulder. That was the same year Abel Breed bought the silver-rich Caribou Mine and decided to bring his ore from Caribou Hill to the ‘warmer’ climate of Middle Boulder for milling. It was also the same year the Boulder Canyon Road was completed, though it would be nearly forty years before the first automobile (a Stanley Steamer) would make the difficult trip up from Boulder in 1910.

In 1873, Breed sold the Caribou Mine to the Mining Company Nederland from Holland. Breed’s Caribou Mill in Middle Boulder became known among the miners as “the Netherlands,” meaning “low lands” (which it is compared to the town of Caribou at 10,000' elevation). In 1874 when the town incorporated, the people chose Nederland as the new name.

The mines at Caribou soon declined, however, and the Dutch company pulled out just a few years later. By 1890, there was little ore to be milled and Nederland became another mountain ghost town, with only a handful of families living here year round.

A second mining boom began just after the turn of the century. Sam Conger, who had discovered the Caribou silver mine, found tungsten in areas to the north and east of Nederland, and he knew its value in making steel. The old silver mill in Nederland was converted to process tungsten. By 1916, Nederland had a population of nearly 3,000, about twice its present number. In addition, the town of Lakewood grew north of Nederland and the town of Tungsten sprung up at the foot of Barker Dam. An unnaturally flat area on the south side of the canyon road just below the dam is scant evidence of the town that still appears on some area maps.

Though there were short-lived revivals of tungsten mining during World War II and in the early 1950s, the area’s mining fortunes gradually faded since World War I and Nederland evolved into a refuge from the heat of the plains and from the angst of city life. Good folks from all over the country have come to settle here and take part in recreating new lives in one of the most beautiful spots on earth.

You’ll be glad you chose to visit and we know you’ll come back.

Nederland, Colorado

[ Nederland Area Chamber of Commerce ]