The Day by Day History of the
Colorado Became a State
August 1, 1876
Welcome to the state of Colorado. It's a land
with a history of cliff dwellers, gold miners, railroad
travelers, and homesteaders. It's a place associated with
outdoor adventure, ski resorts, and many successful businesses.
Entering the Union on August 1, 1876, the year the U.S.
celebrated its 100th birthday, the 38th state is known as the
Centennial State. Do you know anyone who lives in Colorado? Do
you know who lived there 900 years ago?
Among the early
inhabitants were American Indians, the Anasazi (the "ancient
ones," pronounced a-ne-'sa-ze) cliff dwellers. They lived high
on the mountainous stone plateaus of Mesa Verde until the late
1200s. Most people believe the Anasazi left because of drought
and other extreme conditions, some of which are still mysteries.
You can visit the remains of these cliff dwellings today. The
Spanish and the French explored the area before the U.S.
combined property into the Colorado Territory in 1861. By that
time the population of settlers was already growing rapidly.
Gold! The 1858 discovery of gold caused a
population boom, just like it did in California 10 years
earlier. The miners found other profitable minerals as well and
continued to mine for many years. As late as the 1940s, mountain
streams in Ouray County ran yellow because of the residue
(tailings) from the gold mills. You can see the golden river in
this photo. Settlers also discovered Colorado's exquisite
Railroads brought ever more travelers
and settlers to Colorado, where many stayed because of the
richness of the state's agricultural production and its physical
beauty. They rode trains like this one through the Rocky
Mountains. Have you visited Colorado? What else do you know
about the Centennial State?