G. W. Swink came to the Rocky Ford Crossing as a early pioneer along the Arkansas River to build a trading post around 1870. He grew the first melons at this site within a few years after coming using the river water as irrigation.
He experimented with growing melons until the railroad came to its present location around 1877. He then moved his trading post to the present Rocky Ford site. He began larger gardens and by 1881 he was growing and shipping as much as 300 tons of watermelons per year.
When word was out that the melons were coming from Rocky Ford, (by this time the Rocky Ford area had been opened for homesteading) more and more gardeners and farmers started coming to Rocky Ford to take up a homestead. They plowed the dry prairie sod and used water from the Arkansas River to irrigate farms.
Before 1885 Swink had been growing a type of muskmelon, this melon was larger than a cantaloupe of those days. The Netted Gem Cantaloupe was introduced in about 1886. These cantaloupes were sold to miners in Leadville, Colorado and were packed in previously used wooden shipping barrels and used shipping crates. This was the beginning of shipping Rocky Ford Cantaloupes™ to distant local markets.
In 1895 the first train car load was shipped to St Louis as an experiment. The following year 1896 several train car loads were shipped to St. Louis. This was the beginning of the shipping Rocky Ford Cantaloupes™ to out of state markets. Within a short time Rocky Ford Cantaloupes™ were being shipped to markets as far a New York and started appearing on menus of New York’s finest restaurants and became known around the world and therein became World Famous.