The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association Celebrates 150 Years

Most people know that the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) wouldn’t exist without the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), our parent organization. However, few people probably understand the long history and deep roots that the Cattlemen’s Association has in Colorado. (For instance, CCA was formed nine years before Colorado even became a state and it is the oldest cattlemen’s association in the nation!) This year, CCA is celebrating its 150th anniversary as an organization. In celebration of this milestone, we’re sharing a timeline of key landmarks in CCA’s 150 year history. 

To give you an idea …. 

150 years ago, America was still establishing its roots and recovering from the American Civil War which had ended two and a half years prior. At this time, Colorado was nearly ten years away from becoming a state, but Denver was already being established as the trading hub for the western plains and mountain regions. 

1865 – Colorado’s cattle industry boom starts.As Denver and the cattle industry grew, so did the rise of cattle rustlers and thieves. Cattle rustlers started stealing larger numbers of cattle and taking them to Kansas to be sold on the spot, or hidden and then sold to mining camps needing beef. 

1867 – The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association forms under the name the “Colorado Stock Growers Association.”Approximately 30 Colorado ranchers traveled to Denver to create an organization designed to combat the rampant cattle theft. Their goal was to help facilitate legislation that protected ranchers and their cattle. 

1876 – President Ulysses S. Grant admits the state of Colorado to the Union as the 38th state. 

1902 – The Association forms the State Board of Stock Inspection Commissioners (Brand Board).

1906 – The first National Western Stock Show (NWSS) opens on Monday January 29th and runs for six days.Association members were involved in the first committee of the NWSS. 

1917 – The US declares war in World War I.Two years after the US joins the war, cattle prices hit a peak of $58.80 per head. Both morale and cattle prices remained high throughout the war. 

1929 – The US stock market crashes.To combat the high income losses for cattlemen during the 1930’s, the Association focused its efforts on reducing taxes, transportation charges, and commissions. They lobbied for assistance to the beef industry on all fronts, and even used life insurance money from the Association’s secretary/manager to make it through the Great Depression. During this time, nearly every member was struggling to pay dues. 

1939 – World War II began.By 1942, the price for cattle had risen back up to $54.00 per head. That price would continue to remain high through the following years. During the war, travel to meetings was hard for most members, so the Association continued its work, but participation was down. 

1942 – Wives of Association members form their own association now known as the Colorado CattleWomen (CCW)CCW was formed to promote beef and the agricultural lifestyle in Colorado. 

1949 – The Association changes its name (for the seventh and final time) to the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). 

1950 – CCA moves into the Livestock Exchange building at the National Western Complex in Denver.During the 1950’s, the Association went through a reorganization proccess to increas engagement and recruitment. Past presidents and officers traveled across the state to inform fellow ranchers about the services and benefits of CCA. 

1967 – CCA reaches 5,000 members for its 100th anniversary.

1991 – CCA moves into a new building (and its current home) in Arvada 

1995 – The membership and board of CCA form the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT).CCALT is the first land trust started by producers. Since then, five other state livestock associations have followed CCA’s model for the land trust. 

2011 – CCA launches its campaign to raise funds to move the Association headquarters back to the NWSS complex. 

2017 – The Association marks its 150th anniversary at its Annual Convention in Grand Junction, Colorado.Nearly 500 people gathered to celebrate the historic milestone and attend the convention.

 On behalf of the board and staff of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust we would like to congratulate the Cattlemen’s Association on this historic milestone. CCA, thank you for 150 years of thoughtful and impactful work!