This week, I helped my husband chaperone some students to the great city of Denver, Colorado for State History Day. We had a wonderful day in a beautiful downtown. I loved the cool historic buildings on the 16th street mall. We took the kids to the Museum of Nature and Science, and there were so many beautiful old homes on Colorado Boulevard. It reminded me of a book I read by native Denver author Sandra Dallas. The book titled Colorado Homes, had so many beautiful photos of historic homes in Colorado. Sadly, some of them are no longer in existence. Being in such a beautiful city among these great old buildings made me wonder what it was like back in the day. So I did some research, and found some terribly interesting facts about the capital of our great state.
In the summer of 1858, a small group of prospectors from Georgia found gold at the base of the Rocky Mountains, which caused people from all over to come to Colorado. This was during the Homestead Act, so people could just lay claim to land. General Larimer claimed a lot of land, layed out a city, and named it Denver City. A year later Denver City was almost deserted when gold was found in the mountain town of Central city. However, people came back when they realized how horrid the winter weather was.
The Colorado Territory was created on February 28, 1861, and then in 1865, Denver City became the Territorial Capital. The name was then shortened to Denver. On August 1, 1876, Denver became the State Capital when Colorado was admitted to the Union.
The capital had some hard times in the mid 1800’s. In 1863, almost all of Denver’s business district was burned in a huge fire. Then, a year later, there was a huge flash flood which killed twenty people and damaged the city horribly. There was a food shortage after that due to the cutoff of supply lines due to the Indian war. Between 1880-1895 the city experienced a huge rise in city corruption, as crime bosses, like Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith who worked with both elected officials and the police to control the elections, gambling, and the bunko gangs.
However, these people who came out to Colorado were strong and determined. They raised $300,000 to build a railroad which met the Union Pacific in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Silver was discovered, and that lead to Denver being a big deal. Religious leaders formed the precursor to United Way in 1887 to help the poor. I’m so grateful to these people for making Denver what it is, and I don’t envy their hard lives in the least. Although, I can dream of spending a day in old time Denver. If you know any other fun facts about Denver, please write them in the comments. I would love to know more about this magical city.