A brief history of Colorado
Although the Coloradoís mountains and plains are dominated by activity seekers, wildlife and extreme elements, it doesnít take long to see that they also very much shaped by history. There is evidence of hunting people living in the east at least 20,000 years ago, and visitors will feel connected with the Pueblo populations from as far back as AD 800 whose settlements they can still see clinging to the cliffs of the Mesa Verde National Park and in the Ute Indian reservation nearby, where you can even see remnants of their corn, farmed on the mesa plateaus. Read more
The big change took place in the 1500ís in Colorado, when Spanish conquistadors arrived in the southwest although it wasnít until 1706 that they took over the present day southeast of Colorado making it part of Spain. At the beginning of the 19th century eastern Colorado returned into US hands who then tried, unsuccessfully, to take back the southwest.
Meanwhile in the east, there were regular inter-tribal conflicts between American Indian tribes, as well as with American traders and prospectors pushing into their lands. It was in 1840 at Bent's Fort, the area's major trading center, that the four major eastern tribes ended their warfare and struck an alliance in order to take on the white settlers and US government.
Along the way, of course, Coloradoís mineral wealth was discovered and the mining boom of the mid 1800ís led to the founding of such mining towns as Central City, Tarryall, Golden, Blackhawk, Boulder, Nevadaville, Colorado City, and Gold Hill. This led to the official boundaries of Colorado being drawn up in 1861, with Denver named capital in 1867. Colorado sided with the Union during the Civil War, though some settlers fought for the Confederacy.
The 1860s saw the most serious conflict between Indians and white settlers in Coloradan history, with the Cheyenne and Arapaho rebelling against their being moved to reservations, the conflict culminating in a military massacre of 200 Indian men, women and children at Sand Creek. Five more years of warfare followed, with the Indians defeated at Beecher Island (1868) and Summit Spring (1869). Since then, most tribes were either sent to reservations out of state or a few that still remain in Colorado.
Colorado entered the Union as the 38th state on 1 August 1876 at a time when silver mining took off at Leadville and Aspen. This brought industrialisation and rail lines, and from that followed tourism into the heart of Colorado. And then the Depression hit. Farming slowly started to take over from industry as people needed to start feeding themselves, and with this the land started to be reclaimed from industry. A reclamation that was sealed after WW1 when mining took its final curtain call in most areas. During WW2 Colorado became a military center and Colorado Springs remains the home of the US Air Force Academy and Air Force Space Operations Center, contributing hugely to Colorado's economic and population growth.
Industry in the state is now diverse although mining still raises its ugly head from time to time, with highly controversial open pit gold mining still happening in some places. However, with a strong green movement, not only in terms of energy but also in its agriculture and farming industries, the future on the mountains and plains looks to rosy and, if they keep going the way they are, most certainly responsible.