Fruita's history boasts steady growth for over a century, with descendants of many of the original pioneers still living in the area. Today, Fruita still appreciates its western heritage and its scenic setting at the foot of the Colorado National Monument.
The first permanent homesteaders in today's Fruita area were possibly Mr. and Mrs. Albert Lapham - when they settled in late 1882, they took up residency in a pre-existing cabin with a dirt floor and a blanket door. They were followed by other settlers, nearly all of whom were farmers. Attempts to organize a community in the Fruita area were unsuccessful until the present day town was established in 1884, by William E. Pabor, who formed the Fruita Town and Land Company for the purpose of selling town lots.
Years later he spoke of his dreams that came “In the spring of 1884, lying on the bare floor of a log cabin on the site of what is now the town of Fruita ”. For Pabor, “ …visions of the possibilities of the future swept before me…I saw vineyards and orchards and rose-embowered cottages in which love, happiness and contentment abode….”
Not only as a poet, but also as a scientist, Pabor recognized the great promise of the Grand Valley . He wrote a 300-page volume, “ Colorado as an Agricultural State ,” in which he spoke glowingly of the fruit growing potential of the area. Having worked with the Greeley colony, he founded the new town along the same lines, including the provision that no liquor was sold or manufactured in the town. This provision lasted until it was voted out in the late 1970's.
The original town site was planned to take in eighty acres with a park in the middle. In the 1930's Fruita participated in several government projects including the Grand Valley Resettlement Project (later Western Slope Farms). Settled in groups of two or three families per area, thirty-four families were relocated by 1937. Another program was Rural Electrification Project which brought electricity to between 800 and 900 farms. Fruita also had a Civilian Conservation Corps several Works Progress Administration projects including the town library, a federal loan for the new central school and the construction of the spectacular Rim Rock Drive to the top of the Colorado National Monument , elevation 8,000 feet.
Some of the best-remembered personalities associated with Fruita were John Otto, early proponent and first superintendent of the Colorado National Monument , Elmer Riggs, paleontologist from Chicago 's Field Museum who made major discoveries of dinosaur bones in the area during the early 1900s; author and naturalist Will Minor and popular African-American cowhand Charlie Glass, who passed away in 1936.