In 1776, after hiring a Ute guide on the Uncompahgre plateau, Escalante and Dominguez were led to the river we call the Gunnison. At the cove where Austin someday would be located, the Fathers paused to preach to friendly (and apparently cheering) Utes gathered along the rim above and then proceeded up the North Fork, and then over Grand Mesa.
Austin was founded by Dr. Austin Miller, a tubercular refugee. Among his many activities, he founded the Austin Bank and later opened a branch of it in Delta.
Austin once came near rivaling Delta.
In the early years, wheat was grown in the area and Austin (along with Delta, Montrose, and Hotchkiss) had their own flour mill. However, these mills burned to the grown in typically explosive fires. None were rebuilt; the powder-charged air that fills a flouring mill is so explosive and mills are so prone to burn that fire insurance was virtually unobtainable. The superiority of area fruit began attracting world attention and prices to match, so much grain acreage permanently was converted to orchard and the flouring profits sagged accordingly.
In the early 20th century, because residents in this area were getting sick from drinking ditch water, three small communities (Austin, Cory, and Eckert) agreed to consolidate in order to be able to raise enough money to build a water pipeline. Thus Orchard City was incorporated in 1912, but even to this day it's more common for people to refer to one of the three specific communities within the boundaries of Orchard City.
Water still holds an important role in this area. In reviewing newspaper articles about Orchard City that have appeared in the Delta County Independent over the last 20 years, water is the subject in well over 50% of them.
On 3 April 2012, history was made when 27-year old of Austin community, Matt Soper, was elected the youngest trustee in the town's 100-year history. At the time of his election, Trustee Soper said, "Of the 401 votes I received, I’m most proud of the support from my 97-year-old, great aunt, Merle Payne, who was the long time deputy county clerk in Delta. She always said she hoped to live long enough to see me elected to a public office". Trustee Soper, affectionately known as "The Prodigy" by his peers and public officials throughout Delta County, is also famous for amalgamating idealism with blunt realism, as illustrated by this quote, "To me the town's job is to deliver water at affordable rates, provide for emergency response, and otherwise get out of the way so that businesses can grow and folks can enjoy their lives".
WOW! crawfordcollins collected the FTF less the 90 minutes after publication on this one! Way to go girl!