History of Colorado

Colorado, home to America's longest street, Denver's Colfax Avenue and the world's highest suspension bridge 1,050 feet above sea level has a very interesting history. The area 's occupation by Native American big game hunters dates back to 13,000 BC. By 1787, the Pueblos, Apaches, Algonquins, Cheyennes, Comanches, and Shoshones had either been banished from the territory or to Indian Territory, the forerunner of the U.S. Indian reservation system. This relocation campaign paved the way for the first Spanish settlement near modern-day Pueblo.

Ultimately, the Utes, Colorado's oldest continuous residential population, negotiated a settlement agreement with the U.S. Government in 1850. By 1849, gold prospectors from around the country descended on the Denver area. The efforts of a prospector from Georgia resulted in the first significant gold discovery in 1857 near Englewood when a gigantic nugget weighing 135 ounces was unearthed. In 1859, approximately 10,000 fortune-hunting prospectors dubbed the 59rs rushed to Pike's Peak. The discovery of gold in a gulch near Center City gave Colorado a new claim to fame as the home of Earth's richest square mile. 1859 was also the year the first rodeo show in the world occurred on July 4th in Deer Trail.

Higher education came to Colorado in 1877 when the University of Colorado with a faculty of 2 and a student body of 44 opened in Boulder. The University's College of Agriculture soon followed despite the fact that San Juan County (Durango) has the shortest growing season in the United States, two-weeks.

Leadville, the town with America's highest elevation, 10,500 feet, was the scene of the 1879 discovery of silver. Despite the fact that a silver nugget weighing 1,820 pounds was unearthed in 1894, conflict between laborers and mine owners resulted in the first employment strike at Cripple Creek and the dawn of the miner's union. By the 1880s, many miners moved on to a new substance known as coal. Poor working conditions, script pay only useable at the company store and the loss of 1,700 men to mining mishaps quickly resulted in increased union membership.

No history of Colorado would be complete without the inclusion of some very interesting facts and firsts. America's first juvenile court opened in Denver in 1903. The first U.S., coin was minted in Denver in 1906. Credit for America's first cheeseburger circa 1935 belongs to Coloradoan Louis Ballast, and the ever-popular Barbie doll was born in Colorado in 1959.