Today, the town counts only 1500 people, but just because it is a small city does not mean that it is not an important one. It is an important industrial and commercial center, and its proximity with several important other cities also make it noticeable. Moreover, it is situated only 150 miles from Denver, and this makes it possible for the town to benefit of a large number of tourists. It has only…2 squared miles, so it can be considered as a little piece of heaven.
Even if coal mining is still an important activity, the tourists don’t avoid this place, especially because of the great hiking options. Maybe the town itself is not that great when it comes to activities, but it is a great place to start hiking, climbing and biking expeditions in the entire area.
Paonia is situated in an area explored by the first settlers coming in Colorado, sometimes in the mid 1800’s. The first Europeans that came here were leaded by Captain Gunnison, which also gives the name of the river crossing this area. Paonia developed because it was a suitable place where people could cross the Rocky Mountains. From 1850 to 1880, Paonia was ruled by the Ute Indians, until their reservation was closed. The first recorded persons that actually settled here were Samuel Wade and William Clark, which came from the area of Ohio. In 1902, the town held its first elections, and by that year, the name of the city was also established as it is today. Until then it was called Paeonia, after the Latin city with the same name.
The most important activities here are cattle ranching, farming, and mining. Cattle was brought here at the end of the 1800’s, and the good fields helped this industry to grow. Coal was also discovered here, contributing to the growth of the city even more. This is what also convinced the Federal authorities to bring the railroads here, putting Paonia on the map of the Colorado State.