A snapshot of the Grand Valley in 1975

If you tried to picture a community hit by 12 murders in one year, you likely wouldn’t envision Grand Junction in 1975.

The Grand Valley was on the cusp of the oil-shale boom and bustling with transient workers building the Hayden Power Plant. But nothing else hinted at the violent crime that bookmarked this city and that year in the annals of western Colorado history.

With a Grand Junction municipal population of roughly 20,000 and a Mesa County population around 60,000, the valley had less than half the inhabitants it does today.

People knew just about everyone 10 years older or 10 years younger than them.

Long before energy companies stood up drilling rigs or tourists flocked here, agriculture was the dominant industry. School started late some years so kids could help harvest the family farm or pick fruit in the orchards.

Foresight Industrial Park was just being developed,  while Mesa Mall was four years away from being built. Several sections of Interstate 70 remained unfinished on the Western Slope.

Mesa State College, now a growing college that offers master’s degrees in two programs, was in transition from a junior college to a four-year institution.

And there was no stoplight in Fruita.

Not exactly the sort of place you’d expect big-city crime.


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