How Fort Collins Streets Got Their Names
I don’t usually give the street names in our town much thought. They get me where I’m going (usually) and that’s all I really need. Except, that is, for Laporte Avenue. In French, ‘la porte’ means ‘the door,’ but that isn’t even the prettiest French word you could name something. Why use ‘la porte,’ when ‘le pamplemousse’ (the word for grapefruit) is a perfectly viable option? Well, I say it’s time we find out, so here’s the history behind Fort Collins’ street names.
According to the Fort Collins History Connection, most of Fort Collins’ streets were either named after plants and shrubs, or people who loomed large in the town’s history. The east-west streets were florally named, covering streets such as Pine, Linden, Willow, Plum, Laurel and Locust. Meanwhile, the north-south streets were given people’s monikers. For instance, you might recognize such names as A.F. Howes, J.E. Remington, Norman H. Meldrum, E.W. Whitcomb and Joseph Mason. All of these men were trustee members of the group that helped organize the Agricultural Colony of Fort Collins in 1872. Howes was also heavily involved in building Fort Collins’ first schoolhouse, served as a probate judge for Larimer County and was even a Colorado senator later in his life.
Another well-known street named after a person who was integral to Fort Collins is Elizabeth. This east-west street is named after the pioneer Mrs. Elizabeth “Aunty” Stone, one of Fort Collins’ original settlers. Mrs. Stone and her husband built the first true dwelling in Fort Collins in 1864 , and they were largely responsible for running the town’s first businesses that attracted new settlers. Mrs. Stone ran the city’s first hotel and mess hall for the soldiers at Camp Collins and helped run the city’s first grist mill. She also started the first public school, teaching pioneer kids in her own house.
As for other well-travelled streets, Mountain Ave. was obviously named for its direction towards Colorado’s famous geographic feature, while College Ave. was named because of its proximity to the Colorado Agriculture College.
However, none of these tidbits answer my questions about the ever-elusive Laporte Avenue. Apparently, Laporte was named in honor of the Collins camp site of 1863-1864, which was located close to the settlement of Laporte before a flood forced it to relocate.
Why was the settlement of Laporte named as such? According to Wikipedia, this is where the French influence starts to make sense: The town was named by French-Canadian fur trappers, who thought of the settlement as the gateway to the mountainous region nearby. So, that’s where that ‘door’ wording comes in.
I hope this little historical dive has been informative for you, and I can stop throwing shade at Laporte Ave. every time I want to go from Old Town to Horsetooth Reservoir.
Old Town Fort Collins: Ten Years Ago, and Now