Originally the Town of Nantes (1887 – 1907), situated along the Union Pacific Railway, was failing. A lumber tycoon from Iowa, W.K. Gilcrest acquired much of the property around Nantes in 1907. He began a new community on the bones of Nantes, renaming the town after his father, Jacob K. Gilcrest. In keeping with their temperance ideals, all Gilcrest deeds prohibited the sale of intoxicating liquors.
Gilcrest was incorporated in 1912. Within a few years, 1,000 trees had been planted in the Gilcrest park and along the streets. A dozen businesses were soon opened to serve the 300 citizens. In 1915 W.K. Gilcrest became a Colorado state legislator and was instrumental in routing the Greeley – Denver Highway (now U.S. 85) through La Salle, Peckham, and Gilcrest.
Between 1913 and 1975 Greeley’s Great Western Sugar Factory operated a sugar beet dump at the Gilcrest railroad station. Gilcrest was also a center for the potatoes that were harvested in the area and stored in town. In recent years oil and gas exploration and production in Weld County has impacted Gilcrest.
With the oil and gas industry and other industries moving into Weld County, the Town of Gilcrest is thriving and continues to be a progressive community.