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Gypsum: More than a sign on the interstate

Kathy Filgo
Shane Macomber/Vail Daily
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Long-time locals recall a time when they placed signs on the Gypsum exit on the interstate advertising the need for a doctor in Gypsum. This was also a time when a trip to the grocery store meant a drive to Glenwood Springs.

It wasn’t too many decades ago that Gypsum housed no airport, you could hunt locally but certainly couldn’t golf, and skiing at Vail Mountain (on wooden skis of course) was deemed about a thousand-mile sojourn.

Now there’s a Costco and a medical center just down the road and the frenzy of residential and commercial development will leave Gypsum lacking for nothing.



Looking back to a time when locals were dodging arrows, Gypsum began its steady growth of evolving from a land of the Pony Express to one of private jets.

Over a hundred years ago, according to “Portrait and Biographical Record of the State of Colorado,” in 1881 William Schliff, born in Germany, built one of the first homes in the area.



By 1884 there were 31 ranches in Gypsum Valley, although not even a wagon road into the valley. Gypsum had a population of about 50. Today it’s estimated the population is 5,000, and growing.

The first post office was established in 1883 and “Eagle County History” puts the date at 1884 that the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad tracks were laid in Gypsum.

By 1888 businesses were plentiful and included such necessities as a general store, hardware store, blacksmith shop, restaurant, and saloon, and by 1903 there were two hotels, the Gypsum Hotel and the Ulin Hotel. That same year Eagle Valley’s first automobile made its appearance.



The town was incorporated Oct. 17, 1911. And in 1930 the first sign of what would eventually be the Eagle County Regional Airport appeared with a grass emergency landing strip.

Gypsum was named for the presence of nearby gypsum deposits. It is the home to an American Gypsum (formerly Centex, and before that Eagle Gypsum Limited) drywall plant and mine which is the largest industry in town. Gypsum is one of the more common minerals in sedimentary environments and used in plaster, wallboard, some cements, fertilizer, paint filler, and ornamental stone.

Gypsum sits at 6,322 feet and is a community of families and distinct neighborhoods. Gypsum is a town with something for everyone, creating its own mini-metropolitan microcosm.

For a flavor of some of the areas in Gypsum:

Gypsum Estates, located across the street from Gypsum Elementary, Eagle Valley High School and the Gypsum Creek Center, is a 230-unit single-family residential project developed in three phases, each of which sold out even before the infrastructure was complete. The homes are considered affordably priced and have garages and yards.

A 61-unit multi-family rental housing project was built on 5.6 acres and managed by the Catholic Church providing affordable housing in a convenient location and with recreational amenities.

Eagle River Estates, leading to Willowstone, has a pocket park, playgrounds, and bike paths with yards and many mature trees and vegetation.

Willowstone, an upper-moderate priced neighborhood, is a 31.5 acres subdivision with 75 lots, many with Eagle River frontage.

Quail Run is a 72-unit townhome development on approximately 5 acres with its own park facilities.

Buckhorn Valley is an annexed subdivision of 899 homes on 368 acres south of the airport and adjacent to BLM property. The project provides modestly priced housing for the growing working-class family in Gypsum. It is located in the beautiful Spring and Alkali Creek Basins, and will have excellent recreational amenities.

Cotton Ranch south of Gypsum on Valley Road is a 415-acre deluxe community that centers around the 18-hole golf course with panoramic views and a clubhouse with restaurant, lounge, tennis courts and outdoor swimming pool.

A bit further south on Valley Road, an exclusive gated development is underway, Brightwater, which will offer lakes, golf course, water frontage, BLM access and a vast array of amenities.

One of the newest residential developments under consideration is Stratton Flats, a proposed 330-unit residential complex that will be incorporated into the proposed Tower Center big-box commercial project located near the airport.

Commercial opportunities are as flourishing as those in the residential arena. To name just a few of the myriad commercial interests underway: Airport Gateway Center is a 234-acre, 82-lot commercial park zoned for light industrial and commercial uses. Valley Airpark is a 90-acre development is another light industrial development located adjacent to the airport. Gypsum Creek Center has a thriving retail center in town along with the fast growing Red Table Commercial Center. Others are Gypsum Business Center at Jules Drive, Gypsum Commercial Park, Saddle Ridge, and Spring Creek Light Industrial Park.

For more than a year Gypsum has been in the top two areas for real estate transactions occurring in Eagle County. Gypsum ranked No. 2 behind Eagle for total real estate transactions in all of Eagle County for 2005.

Currently listed on the market for sale in the Gypsum are 16 residential homes ranging in price from $186,000 to $599,000; Cotton Ranch with 12 at $494,900 to $735,000; Gypsum Valley with 14 at $469,000 to $2.6 million; and 33 commercial properties at $50,000 to $2.95 million.

Gypsum locals are no longer traveling to Timbuktu to have a sore throat attended to or to purchase a loaf of bread. The warm weather, the gorgeous Valley, and the ever-increasing amenities have put Gypsum on the map. The only sign necessary on the interstate now is “Welcome to Gypsum, it’s all happening here!”

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