Population numbers show the Front Range is where people are moving to in Colorado. So where does that leave rural areas?

JULESBURG- It’s about as far northeast in Colorado as you can get without leaving the state.

The town of Julesburg sits right near the border of Colorado and Nebraska. In many ways, it’s a snapshot of an era gone-by – from the retro signage welcoming visitors to the classic shops on Main Street.

“Saturdays in all of these towns, you couldn’t find a place to park on Main Street,” said Chuck Powell, a longtime Sedgwick County resident, who was a former county commissioner.

Julesburg is the county seat of Sedgwick County, a county with the dubious distinction of having lost the most percentage of its population in the entire state since 1960.

“In Colorado, urban residents have outnumbered rural residents since 1900. But you really see a large division between urban and rural residents beginning in 1960,” said Bill Convery, state historian and director of exhibits at the History Colorado Center.

That is exactly what happened in Sedgwick County, where between 1960 and 2010, the county lost a whopping 44-percent of its population, leaving 2,379 people living there now.

So what happened?

“There was a big decline in businesses,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner Glen Sandquist.

Locals point to the closing of an old sugar factory in Ovid, a closure that not only led to a loss of jobs there but started a domino effect, which led other businesses to close, too. It was just one more factor in a decline mirrored in other counties along the Eastern Plains.

So where did people go? They went to the Front Range, where the population skyrocketed.

One prime example is Douglas County, where the population …read more