Colorado’s Apple Heritage

Abundant flowering Apple trees.
Old Apple Orchard in Bloom; Photo Credit:

I’ve been writing monthly articles for the Horticultural Art Society of Colorado Springs‘s newsletter and thought I would share some with you since that work has kept me away from my blog.  Last month’s was about the Colorado apple industry which had its heyday from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s.

“Recently I came across an article about the rediscovery of the Colorado Orange apple, which was thought to be extinct. I was surprised to find out that in the late 1800’s there was a successful apple industry both along the Front Range including Fremont County and in the Western part of the state.

Though they were told that orchards wouldn’t grow in Colorado due to the high elevations, settlers in 1800’s experimented with different growing techniques and varieties and created a thriving apple industry.  In 1922, there were 48,630 apple trees in Montezuma County, and at least 50 different varieties of the fruit. The apples varied widely in color and flavor and keeping quality. Some apples were bred for cider-making as well as eating. These apples were called “spitters” due to tannins that made them unpalatable, but excellent for making hard cider. Contrast that number with the 10-15 varieties carried by local nurseries today.”

The Maiden Blush, Chenango Strawberry and Duchess of Oldenburg heirloom apples found in Colorado. Photo Credit:  Adalyn Schuenemeyer /Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project

You can read the entire article here, including how the Colorado Orange apple was rediscovered.


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