Known as the “City Built on Coal” Walsenburg has a long history as a center of government, commerce, and industry.
La Plaza de Los Leones was built on both sides of the old Indian trail which is now Walsenburg's Main Street. It was the Spanish plaza style, one large complex serving as homes for people and livestock, and enclosed as fortification against Indians.
By 1870 La Plaza de Los Leones was the most flourishing of three little settlements and had attracted many newcomers, including Fred Walsen, who opened the first general store.
Fred Walsen was an enterprising, prominent citizen, the father of the town named in his honor. Walsen immigrated from his native Prussia at the age of 18 to Los Leones where he helped develop a town which was incorporated in 1873.
The discovery of coal around Walsenburg led to an economic boom and the influx of miners, many of them foreign‑born. At one time the main east‑west street was reputed to be home to people of 52 nationalities.
Walsenburg soon became "the city built on coal," with camps dotting the perimeters of the mines, each having company stores. It wasn't until the automobile that Walsenburg became a business center.
The first mines began to close after World War Two and the City and County entered into cycles of economic boom and bust. Since 2008, the City has seen slow, steady, and diversified economic growth.
Today, the City is anchored by a rebounding Downtown Business District with antique shops, the Walsenburg Mining Museum, the Museum of Friends, and Wild Waters water park attracting visitors throughout the year.