Colorado FAQ

Who Were the Anasazi?
From approximately A.D.1 to 1299 A.D. the prehistoric cliff dwellers (Anasazi) lived in southwestern Colorado.

What Native American Groups Lived in Colorado? Big Game hunters occupied parts of Colorado by 9200 B.C. The Anasazi developed their great cliff dwelling culture from 1 A.D. to 1200 A.D. Many other Native American groups have lived in Colorado since. The Utes lived in the mountains, the Cheyenne and Arapahoe resided on the plains from the Arkansas to the Platte rivers, and the Kiowas and Comanches lived south of the Arkansas River. The Pawnee tribe hunted buffalo along the Republican River and the Sioux sometimes hunted on the outskirts of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe lands.

Who Was the First European to Step Foot Into Colorado? In 1541A.D. the Spanish explorer, Francisco Coronado may have crossed the southeastern corner of present-day Colorado.

How Did the United States Acquire the Land Where Colorado Is Today? Through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 the United States acquired a vast area which included what is now most of eastern Colorado. By the Treaty of Hidalgo in 1848, Mexico ceded to the United States most of that part of Colorado not acquired by the Louisiana Purchase. In 1850, the Federal Government purchased Texas' claims in Colorado, and the present boundaries of Colorado were established.

Where Was the First Permanent European Settlement in Colorado? The earliest permanent European settlements were planted in the San Luis Valley. San Luis, on the Culebra River, was settled in 1851, followed in the next few years by San Pedro, San Acacio, and Guadalupe.

When Did the Colorado Gold Rush Begin? William Green Russell discovered a small placer gold deposit near the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek in 1858 which spurred the gold rush in Colorado.

What Were Some of the Earliest Towns that Developed in Colorado After the Gold Rush? St. Charles (renamed Denver City), and its rival, Auraria, were settled on the east and west sides of Cherry Creek (now lower downtown Denver) in 1858. Soon after these towns were established, Boulder City near the mouth of Boulder Canyon was founded. To the north, on the Cache La Poudre River, a fur trader, named Antoine Janise, began a settlement called Colona which later changed its name to La Porte. Arapahoe City and Golden Gate were established to the west of St. Charles and Auraria in the closing days of 1858, while to the south, at the mouth of Fountain Creek, the town of Fountain City (later to be named Pueblo) was laid out. Another site, El Paso, was staked out near Pike's Peak.

Before Colorado Became a State What Was It Called? Colorado was originally part of the Nebraska, Utah, Kansas, and New Mexico Territories. In 1859 a provisional territorial government was formed, called the Territory of Jefferson. In 1861 Congress created the Territory of Colorado.

How Did the State Get Its Name? The Spanish first called the area "Colorado" because of its red colored earth. In 1861 Jefferson Territorial officials decided that "Colorado" would be a good name for the territory. The Colorado Territory then became the State of Colorado in 1876.

When Did Colorado Become a State? On August 1, 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant issued the proclamation of statehood. Colorado was the 38th state to join the Union.

Who Were the First Territorial and State Governors? William Gilpin was the first territorial governor appointed by President Lincoln in 1861. John L. Routt was elected Colorado's first governor after statehood in 1876.

Was Colorado Involved in the Civil War? The Colorado Volunteers aided in defeating Confederate General Henry H. Sibley's Army at La Glorieta Pass, New Mexico, in 1862.

When Was the Capitol Built and Who Designed It? Elijah E. Meyers designed the Colorado Capitol. The cornerstone was laid in 1890 and by late 1894 the building was complete enough to allow the governor and other officers to move in. Completion of the Capitol may be said to have been achieved in 1908 when the dome was leafed with gold and the electric bulb was installed on top of it.

When Was the Penitentiary Opened and Who Was the First Inmate? The first territorial prison was  established in Canon City in 1868. The first prisoner was John Shepler in 1871 who was committed to the institution from Gilpin County for larceny.

When Did Women Get the Right to Vote in Colorado? Colorado was the second state in the nation to extend suffrage to women in 1894 after Wyoming.

When Were the Present Counties Formed? See our Web page for information about each county.

Who Designed the State Flag? Andrew Carlisle Johnson designed the flag.

What Do the Colors in the State Flag Symbolize? The colors of the state flag symbolize certain geographical features of Colorado. The gold stands for the abundant sunshine that our state enjoys. The white represents the snowcapped mountains while the blue stands for our clear blue skies. The red represents the ruddy color of much of our state's earth.

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