Florence was built as a transportation center, with three railroads including a small railroad depot for the trains that hauled coal from the neighboring towns of Rockvale and Coal Creek. Oil was first discovered in Florence in 1862, being the first oil center west of the Mississippi. In the early 1880s the town grew rapidly. The city was named after Florence, the daughter of local settler James McCandless. The town was incorporated in 1887.
Florence is in eastern Fremont County, on the south side of the Arkansas River. It is bordered to the west by the town of Williamsburg, and the town of Coal Creek is 3 miles (5 km) to the southwest. Colorado State Highway 115 runs northwest 9 miles (14 km) to Cañon City and northeast 6 miles (10 km) to Penrose, intersecting U.S. Route 50 in each direction. Colorado State Highway 67 leads north 3.5 miles (5.6 km) to US 50 and south 11 miles (18 km) to Wetmore. Pueblo is 33 miles (53 km) to the east via CO 115 and US 50.
Florence sits in the semi-arid high desert lands of southern Colorado.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,653 people, 1,488 households, and 973 families residing in the city. The population density was 897.7 per square mile (346.5/km²). There were 1,622 housing units at an average density of 398.6 per square mile (153.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.77% White, 0.30% African American, 1.23% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 2.63% from other races, and 2.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.66% of the population.
There were 1,488 households out of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.4% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the city, the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $29,628, and the median income for a family was $39,276. Males had a median income of $33,750 versus $22,042 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,969. About 12.5% of families and 17.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.0% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.