Revised 27 December 2010
It is said that Colorado was named for the great river that raises in the snow banks of her western slope. It is a Spanish word meaning "red", bestowed upon the river by Spanish explorers a century before it was applied to the Colorado Territory. Click on the underlined word for more information from the Colorado State website. Use your back arrow to return to this page.
Early Spanish explorers passing through Mexico heard the natives telling tales of cities of gold and silver to the north. To find these precious metals, many of these fortune hunters traveled northward, some coming into sections of what is now New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. They were the first white men to see the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, the Rio Grande Valley and other wonders of the Rocky Mountain Territory. Escalante, a Catholic priest who tried to find a short cut from Santa Fe to the Pacific coast, came through there in the summer of 1776, but was unsuccessful in his quest.
By the early 1800s, the trappers and fur traders swarmed through the area seeking furs for the large fur companies of the eastern United States and Canada.
The first real settlers of Colorado showed up around 1858, making the state the last to be occupied by permanent settlers. Many were attracted by the early discovery of gold and other metals, but most who came were not all that successful, and stayed on to till the soil and build the ranges.
In 1859, a group of individuals voted to form the territory of Jefferson, but it was never recognized by congress. Because of this some of the counties have organization dates and records prior to 28 February 1861 when the actual Territory of Colorado was finally recognized.
There was a census in 1860 showing a population of about 33,000 men and about half as many women. At the time this census was taken, Colorado was still part of Kansas. Colorado was admitted to statehood 1 August 1876. It was called the Centennial State because it became part of the union 100 years after the formation of the United States.
Colorado has some of the most beautiful country in the United States. It also has an unusual climate structure. When crossing the Rocky Mountains, it can be snowing on one side of the mountain and perfectly clear and warm on the other. It is also the location of the Continental Divide, which is where the direction of the water flow from our water shed changes direction in its race to the ocean. If you travel there to do research, be aware of the sudden altitude changes. The constant altitude changes of going up and down the mountain roads can make you really sick. Take your time traveling and enjoy the scenery. Its well worth the trip
|Name||Date Formed||Parent County||County Seat|
|Adams||1902||Arapahoe; It was created from the north half of the previously existing Arapahoe County.||Brighton|
|Arapahoe (First formed in 1855 as a Territorial County)||1861||Original County; Formed from the northern portions of Conejos and Costilla counties. Originally, the county extended all the way to the Kansas/Colorado border.||Denver then Littleton|
|Archuleta||1885||Conejos; It was divided to form Archuleta county.||Pagosa Springs|
|Carbonate (See Lake)||1861||Renamed Lake|
|Cheyenne||1889||Bent, Elbert||Cheyenne Wells|
|Clear Creek||1861||Original County||Idaho then Georgetown|
|Conejos (See Guadalupe)||1861||Original County||Conejos|
|Costilla||1861||Original County||San Miguel then San Luis|
|Crowley||1911||Bent, Otero (Otero County was divided to form Crowley)||Ordway|
|Denver (Denver has annexed territory from Arapahoe, Adams & Jefferson County on several occasions)||1902||Arapahoe (When Denver was founded it was located in Kansas Territory. The City of Denver prior to 1902 was located in old Arapahoe County.||Denver|
|Douglas||1861||Original County||Franktown then Castle Rock|
|El Paso||1861||Original County||Colorado City then Colorado Springs|
|Fremont||1861||Original County||Canon City|
|Guadalupe (See Conejos)||1861||Renamed Conejos|
|Gilpin||1861||Original County||Central City|
|Grand||1874||Summit||Hot Sulphur Springs|
|Huerfano||1861||Original County||Autobees then Walsenburg|
|Jefferson||1861||Original County; Took its name from the unofficial Jefferson Territory, the extra-legal government that preceded the Colorado Territory.||Golden City then Golden|
|Lake (See Carbonate)||1861||Original county||Oro City then Leadville|
|La Plata||1874||Conejos, Lake||Durango|
|Larimer||1861||Original County||La Porte then Fort Collins|
|Otero||1889||Bent (Otero County was divided to form Crowley)||La Junta|
|Ouray||1877||part of San Juan with a small piece of Hinsdale added; In 1881 the southern portion
was split off to form Dolores County. In 1883 the western part became San Miguel County.
Also in 1883, Ouray County was briefly renamed Uncompahgre County.
|Park||1861||Original County||Tarryall City then Fairplay|
|Rio Grande||1874||Conejos, Costilla||Del Norte|
|San Juan||1876||La Plata||Silverton|
|Summit||1861||Original County||Parkville then Breckenridge|
|Teller||1899||El Paso||Cripple Creek|
|Uncompahgre||1877||Changed to Curay in 1883|
|Weld||1861||Original County||St. Vrain then Greeley|
|For books on Colorado History, visit the THE COUNTRY STORE. Proceeds from sales of books through this link-over to Amazon.com will help to support this website.|
COLORADO HISTORICAL WEBLINKS
|The Colorado GenWeb Project||Colorado Historical Society|
|Brief History of Colorado||History of Colorado|
|Colorado Information and History||Colorado Lore, Legend, and Fact|
|Gilpin Historical Society, Central City, Colorado � History Museum ...||Colorado History in Photos, Primary Sources, and Virtual Tours - Doing ...|
|Colorado History - The Santa Fe Trail and Fort Union||Old Colorado City Historical Society|
|HISTORY OF COLORADO (a PDF pamphlet)||Colorado - The States - The History Channel|
|Colorado Postal History Society||Colorado Kids Page - Colorado History - Colorado Legislative Council|