De Beque and the surrounding area grew and flourished in the late 1800’s as an agricultural and ranching community. In the early years, around 1890, the Town became a central hub along the railroad with large pens for holding cattle awaiting transport to processing plants. Some of the original homestead families still practice ranching in the area.
Although oil was discovered in 1883, serious drilling and production didn’t start until 1917. With the discovery of black gold, oil shale also became a predominant resource which was produced by enterprising miners looking to strike it rich. During this time, many restaurants and hotels sprung up in town.
Today, the local economy is still dependent on ranching and the energy resource extraction industry. Natural gas production and oil shale exploration are still very active in the Pieance Basin, which surrounds De Beque. Because of the fluctuating prices of oil and gas, the community has weathered many boom and bust cycles, spurring incentives to diversify and develop other resources for the local economy.
Along with a few local service businesses, a new crop is being produced in De Beque. In 2014 the Town approved the sale and cultivation of marijuana. The industry is in its infancy but is expected to bring the next wave of pioneers to the area.