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History >> US Geography >> US State History

Colorado

State History

People have lived in Colorado for thousands of years. One of the early civilizations was the Basket Makers who lived in the southwestern area of Colorado. They were mostly hunter-gatherers who were known for their basket weaving. Around 500 AD, the Anasazi (which is Pueblo for "ancient ones") culture developed. The Anasazi lived in adobe structures that they sometimes built into the sides of cliffs. These amazing buildings had many rooms and housed an entire community.


Cliff dwellings near Mesa Verde
Cliff Palace by Gustaf Nordenskiold

Native Americans

When the Europeans arrived, there were several Native American tribes living in Colorado. In the eastern plains lived the Comanche, Apache, Cheyenne, and the Arapaho. These tribes lived in temporary homes called tepees and hunted buffalo for food. In the western mountains lived the Ute peoples. The Ute were hunter-gatherers, skilled warriors, and lived in dome-shaped brush-covered homes called wickiups.

Europeans Arrive

The first European to visit Colorado was Spanish explorer Francisco de Coronado in 1541. Coronado traveled through the region searching for gold. He didn't find gold and soon left the area. Many years later in 1682, French explorer Robert de La Salle entered eastern Colorado. He claimed the land for France and it became part of France's Louisiana territory.

Louisiana Purchase

In 1803, the United States bought eastern Colorado from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase. American explorer Zebulon Pike traveled through Colorado following the Arkansas River in 1806. He mapped out the region including an extremely high mountain which later became known as Pikes Peak. While in Colorado, Pike and his men were arrested by the Spanish and taken as prisoners to Mexico. They were released in July of 1807.


Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak by Aravis

Early Settlers

In the early 1800s, settlers began moving into Colorado. They were mostly fur traders and trappers. In 1821, the Santa Fe Trail opened up between Missouri and New Mexico. It passed through southeast Colorado bringing more people to the region. In 1833, the first permanent settlement in Colorado, Fort Bent, was built along the trail as a trading post.

Becoming a State

After the Mexican-American war ended in 1848, the United States gained control of western Colorado. Ten years later, in 1858, gold was discovered near Pikes Peak. Many thousands of people rushed to Colorado in hopes of striking it rich. Their motto was "Pikes Peak or Bust." As a result of Colorado's growth, the Colorado Territory was created by the U.S. government in 1861. Colorado continued to grow after the Denver Pacific Railway reached Denver in 1870. On November 7, 1876, Colorado was admitted to the United States as the 38th state.


Colorado State Capitol Building
Colorado State Capitol by Unknown

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Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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