Colorado is a treasure trove of natural wonders such as rivers, mountains, plateaus, mesas, valleys, canyons, forests, desert, and high plains. Its residents have iron lungs and a love for the environment, and Colorado has gone through a lot of history to become the 38th state in the United States of America. Colorado is also a safe place to live if you want to avoid earthquakes; even with all of its mountains and varied geographic landscape, the state is a safe haven, seismically speaking. Colorado is also full of historical context, such as over 10,000 years of settlers, explorers, and Native Americans. The state also smashed American records, including having the highest elevation in the country.
Want to learn even more about this awesome state? Then read our list of 10 Incredible Facts About Colorado. For instance, did you know that the natural stones and minerals in Colorado sparked a lot of drama back in the day? There was a Silver Boom back in 1878, and Pikes Peak (one of the most famous places in the state) is home to beautiful pink granite. Colorado was also the second state in the nation to grant suffrage (or the right to vote) to women, and it was the first state in the western United States to host the Democratic National Conference – Denver, 1908. Now let’s get to the even cooler stuff! Are you ready to learn more about Colorado than you ever thought you wanted to know? Let’s get our little history lesson underway.
10 The State Had Somewhat Spanish Origins
Considering that the word “colorado” means “colored” in Spanish, it makes us want to jet off to Colorado to see if it really does have loads of natural color and beauty. Piggybacking off of the Spanish origins, explorers from Spain first coined the name “Colorado River” (or Rio Colorado) because the waterway had red silt and particles floating through it. The red silt came from the mountain that the river ran from. The Colorado River also makes its way through Nevada and Arizona before arriving over the border into Mexico. Nowadays, the Colorado River is still amazing, but not very red.
9 Colorado is #38
At least in terms of its admission into the United States of America. Colorado was actually formally recognized as a territory in the winter of 1861. Yet in 1876, then-President Ulysses S. Grant signed the law that admitted Colorado into the Union, making it the 38th state to do so. Since the year was 1876, 100 years after the official signing of the Declaration of Independence, Colorado received the nickname “The Centennial State,” which it is still referred to as today. As far as numbers are concerned, these days Colorado ranks as #22 on the list of most populous states.
8 Colorado is Flying High
Well, technically it is just sitting there, because land can’t fly, but you get our point. Colorado is in fact the only state in the United States of America that is situated at an elevation higher than 1,000 meters. Even at its lowest point (1,011 meters,) Colorado still has the highest low elevation of any state. That means that native Colorado residents are born with lungs of steel! No really, these people tend to have more lung capacity than people who were born at sea level. The downside is that cooking and baking in Colorado can be a challenge, because the higher elevation messes with the oven temperatures and boiling points.
7 It’s the Home of “America the Beautiful”
Who doesn’t know this famous song, written by Katherine Lee Bates? “America the Beautiful” popped out of Bates’ head as she was gazing at the lovely Pikes Peak, a natural beauty in Colorado. Pikes Peak is one of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains, reaching 4,302 meters. The peak is part of the Pike National Forest and has been named a National Historic Landmark. Visit this place to witness the magnificent Pikes Peak granite, which is pink thanks to its concentration of potassium feldspar. Today, visitors can travel to Pikes Peak and dine, shop, or hike while admiring nature.
6 Colorado’s a Bit Snobby
Who would turn down an opportunity to host the Olympic Games? Colorado would. The state was invited to be a host city for the Winter Olympics of 1976, but voters in the state rejected the bid, which instead went to Innsbruck, Austria. To their credit, the residential voters in Colorado were concerned about the environmental toll as well as the high price tag that would slam the state should the Olympic Games be held there. In fact, the people of Colorado are quite eco-conscious, and Colorado is one of those few spots that hasn’t been ruined by human consumption and pollution.
5 Colorado Gave Birth to the Cheeseburger
Yeah, we know how we talked abou Colorado being a place for the health conscious and tree-huggers, but the state knows how to have some fun as well. The iconic and delicious cheeseburger was invented in 1926 by a man named Louis Ballast, who was living in Denver. He worked at the Humpty-Dumpty Drive-In and created a sandwich that was meaty, cheesy, and irresistible. And get this, Louis was only 16 years old at the time! He was just a teenager working as a fry cook at his dad’s eatery. We love humble beginnings almost as much as we love cheeseburgers.
4 Colorado Rules in Red
Red seems to be the color for this state. Given its namesake originated from the ruddy red color of its silty river, we should have suspected that red was a prominent color in Colorado. Well, besides the red silt and the pink granite, red also makes an appearance in Colorado’s Beulah Red marble, which was used to build the steps to the state’s capitol building. Between 1894 and 1900, workers did their best to cut, polish, and set the marble to create those iconic governmental stairs. Today, you can’t find Beulah Red marble, and don’t you dare try extracting it from the Colorado State Capitol’s steps.
3 Headless Chicken in Colorado
Hear us out – Fruita, Colorado was the home of Mike the Headless Chicken, who is still celebrated in the state today. The story goes that a farmer in Fruita, L.A. Olsen, chopped off one of his chicken’s heads because he was planning on cooking a great dinner with him back in 1945. Well, the chicken just wouldn’t die and lived for 4 more years without its head. Gross? Yes, but it seems to hold some kind of sentimental value for Fruita residents. Every year they celebrate Mike the Headless Chicken on September 10. Well, we’re sure there are other stranger holidays out there somewhere.
2 Colorado’s Land is Old
And we mean really old. Archaeologists went digging around in Colorado and discovered tools and ancient campsites that dated back to prehistoric times. Apparently, people were living in the Colorado area as far back as 10,000 B.C. Historians and researchers have estimated that the first civilization in Colorado was the Anasazi, back in 1500 B.C. That’s going way back, but most people have learned about the Native Americans who lived in Colorado in the 1700s. The most well-known tribes were the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche. They were later faced with a visit from Spanish explorers in the early 1700s.
1 Colorado Used to Be Part of Louisiana Territory
Continuing our American history lesson, we will see that Colorado first belonged in the Louisiana Territory before becoming a state of its own. The Louisiana Territory was sold by France in 1803, to the United States of America. An American explorer was sent to explore the land of Colorado shortly afterwards, but ventured too far and made his way into Spanish territory, which led to his arrest. In fact, the border between American and Spanish territory was a hot topic for years until the land was split up in 1819 (half going to the United States, and half going to Spain.)