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A Timeline of Major Events in Colorado History: Part 1

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Colorado is a state full of natural beauty and boasts a history, unlike any other state. From the moment Colorado became a state, there have been several significant moments in history that have shaped and made Colorado the Centennial State that it is today. Not only have significant events shaped the state, but they have also helped to shape the entire nation.

August 1, 1876 - President Ulysses S. Grant Formally Admits Colorado to the Union

Before being formally admitted into the Union in 1876 by Ulysses S. Grant, the status of the land that makes up Colorado was questionable. The land was originally a part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and the western part of the state was created through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo about fifty years later. Before leaving office in 1861, President James Buchanan signed legislation that formed the Territory of Colorado, and the boundaries he designated in this legislation are still recognized today.

1877 - The First Dinosaur Fossil Discovery in Colorado

Arthur Lakes, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, unearthed previously undiscovered fossils in 1877. These fossils brought about the discovery of species like Stegosaurus and Allosaurus, which are Colorado’s state fossils. The finds at what is now referred to as Dinosaur Ridge provided proof that dinosaurs roamed the area now known as Colorado 150 million years ago during the prehistoric period named the “Age of Giants.” The discovery made by Lakes would be known all over the world and shed light on prehistoric life in North America and beyond.

June 1, 1881 - Union Station Opens in Denver

Denver’s Union Station has undergone many different roles and renovations over the years, but was built in 1881 and is the largest building in Denver. Today, it is an upscale destination with bars and restaurants and is an important transportation hub. The original building was consumed by fire 13 years after being initially built after a fire broke out in the women’s bathroom. In the late 1800s, Union Station served as a transportation hub that connected trains from Denver, Colorado Springs, Leadville, Durango, and Steamboat Springs.

November 7, 1882 - Earthquake Hits Fort Collins

In terms of earth-shattering earthquakes, Colorado is not a state that comes to mind for these events, but on November 7, 1882, Fort Collins experienced an earthquake that registered a 6.5 on the Richter scale. This was violent enough to cause cracks in local windows and walls - the first of its kind in the region. Although the state experiences earthquakes regularly, most of them do not produce any interference and aren’t felt.

August 1892 - The Evening Post is Founded in Denver

Before changing its name to The Denver Post, the famous publication was known as The Evening Post. The paper was originally founded in 1892 for political purposes by the supporters of Grover Cleveland, who were looking for a way to spread awareness of Democratic issues. The original intention of the paper would soon be thrown out when silver prices crashed, and Cleveland was unfavorable to those within the state. It folded in 1893 and changed hands several times before becoming what it would be today.

July 22, 1893 - Katharine Lee Bates writes “America the Beautiful” From the Top of Pikes Peak

One of America’s most beloved patriotic songs, “America the Beautiful,” was written from the top of Pikes Peak by Katharine Lee Bates, an English teacher in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The poem she wrote from atop the mountain would soon be renamed and put to music, creating the song we sing when expressing the beauty of America.

The Events That Shape Colorado

These are just the beginning of the events that created the state of Colorado that we know and love today. The next installation will cover the depression, women’s right to vote, and more - hitting on the key points in history that truly shaped this beautiful state.

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