Ten Things You May Not Know About Greeley

So...easier to, you know, actually live there?
So...easier to, you know, actually live there? YouTube
WalletHub released a study this week that ranked the fastest-growing cities in America, subdividing that list into applicable factors — and according to that metric, Greeley came in at number one for job growth and overall economy.

Surprised? You may be, given Greeley’s reputation in Colorado as, “Oh, that city up north that smells bad?” But there’s probably a lot about Greeley that you don’t know. Here’s your chance to correct that oversight, and maybe come closer to understanding just what’s so awesome — or at least remarkable — about our neighbor to the north.

10. Ooooh, That Smell

Okay, let’s start with the big one: The meatpacking industry that’s come to define Greeley for most folks — especially here in Colorado — has been a subject of a lot of local efforts, mostly to minimize the notable effect on the olfactory. While it historically has been an issue — perhaps most notable when Greeley hosted Broncos spring training in the 1980s — new zoning and the like have largely eliminated the issue for locals. But the reputation, if not the constant smell, still lingers.

click to enlarge This phone, obviously, is directly connected to the Batcave. - DAVE BLEASEDALE AT FLICKR
This phone, obviously, is directly connected to the Batcave.
Dave Bleasedale at Flickr
9. Just in Case: The Odor Hotline
As one of its responses to the accusations of pervasive stink, Greeley government has initiated a hotline for locals to call in and complain about any and all nose-holding experiences. It still happens, the smell — just not as often, and it’s addressed when it does. Just this past August, the JBS packing plant reported “an issue with its equipment,” flavoring the city air with something that citizens feared might be a natural gas leak. (To be fair, it was gas. Just not the kind that you want baking your cookies.)

8. It Once Supplied One-Quarter of America’s Sugar
As the agricultural center of the sugar beet industry, Greeley has historically been a place of which Dwight Schrute would be sincerely fond. In the 1920s, at the height of production, Greeley manufactured one-fourth of all the sugar sold and consumed in the United States. That’s some serious sweetening of America.

click to enlarge The only drawback to living in Greeley is that law about having to own at least one red pickup. - WILLIAM ANDRUS AT FLICKR
The only drawback to living in Greeley is that law about having to own at least one red pickup.
William Andrus at Flickr
7. Houses: Not Cheap, but More Reasonable
With Denver metro homes now averaging more than half a million dollars, there are a lot of reasons that a young family might choose to live in a sweet little college town (that only occasionally smells) like Greeley. That same single-family home in Fort Collins will run you over $400K, while a similar home in Boulder will cost you approximately one billion dollars (or might as well). But Greeley’s average home price is still under the $300K mark — not inexpensive by any stretch, but for a real estate market as consistently hot as Colorado’s? A heck of a lot more doable.

click to enlarge It says here that I didn't say that at all. Curious. - FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE AT FLICKR
It says here that I didn't say that at all. Curious.
Family Tree Magazine at Flickr
6. It Was Named for Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune
Horace Greeley is at this point primarily remembered as the guy who’s quoted as saying “Go west, young man, go west,” despite that attribution being apocryphal and problematically connected to the concept of Manifest Destiny, largely considered racist by today’s standards. Greeley — the town, not the newspaperman — had been started as an experimental “Utopian society” in 1869, based on temperance, religion, family values and irrigation. Seriously: irrigation. (That’s why it sits between the South Platte and the Cache la Poudre.) It was first called “The Union Colony,” but was renamed in honor of Horace Greeley on the occasion of his visit in 1870. Greeley never returned to the city that bore his name, but as the city founders probably put it: “Eh, whatever. Signs are already painted.”

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen