city, seat (1880) of Gunnison county, west-central Colorado, U.S. It lies along the Gunnison River, just north of the San Juan Mountains of the Rockies, at an elevation of 7,703 feet (2,348 metres). Lying between the Sawatch Range and the Elk Mountains, the city is surrounded by the Gunnison National Forest, for which it is headquarters. It originated as a silver-mining camp and was named for Captain John William Gunnison, an Indian fighter and railroad surveyor who had explored the area in 1853. The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad arrived in 1881, and the city developed as a trade centre for mining and farming and as a recreation area. Its growth was sustained by the establishment there of Western State College of Colorado (1911). Gunnison is a popular angling centre, with many trout streams and several reservoirs (notably Taylor to the northeast and Blue Mesa to the west) in the vicinity. The Curecanti National Recreation Area and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park lie to the west. Big game hunting and the nearby Crested Butte Winter Sports Area draw many visitors. Inc. 1880. Pop. (1990) 4,636; (2000) 5,409.
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