Colorado History Timeline

By | May 12, 2022

In the Colorado area, centuries before the white came on the scene, nomadic Indians foraged the plains for edible vegetation and small animals.

In about 100 AD, in the Four Corners area of ​​southwestern Colorado, the very advanced Anasazi Indians built functional, high-rise cliff dwellings in the canyon walls; later their entire culture simply disappeared. In 1540, the Spanish explorer Coronado and a large expedition of men moved north from Mexico in search of gold, eventually reaching southeastern Colorado in 1541. French and Spanish exploration of this mountainous region continued over the next two centuries. In 1800, when Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies were moving across Europe, pushing Spain to the corner, Louisiana Territory (New Orleans)

and a vast amount of land in the now central United States (including much of Colorado) was ceded to France by Spain through the agreement. In 1803, with military pressures mounting, Napoleon approved the sale of the entire area to the United States in a deal called the Louisiana Purchase and the United States doubled in size almost overnight. Three years later, US President Thomas Jefferson sent Lieutenant Zebulon Pike to investigate this newly purchased territory; directly west of Colorado Springs stands one of the Lieutenant’s most famous (namesake) discovery – Pikes Peak.

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Beginning in the 1820s adventurers, fur hunters and traders of all description flooded the area, trading posts (forts) were established to effectively and safely barter with the Indians. Beaver skins and buffalo skins were shipped to Eastern markets in huge quantities.

And speaking of Indians, Colorado at that time was the hunting grounds of Apaches, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanches, Utes and others. As Indian lands (territories) were stolen, hostilities with the invading whites were inevitable, but the firepower of the US military eventually proved overwhelming to the Native Americans.

When gold was discovered in California in 1849, the subsequent “fever” got rich quickly. in the west, reaching the Colorado Territory when it was also found (near Denver) in 1858. Over the next few years, tens of thousands of people came here to look for the gold treasure. As a result, dozens of small settlements were built across the territory, and the small city of Denver was itself dedicated in 1860.

Colorado timeline

1600s – 1700s

  • (1682) Explorer La Salle adapted the area east of the Rocky Mountains, now known as the Colorado, for France
  • (1765) Juan Maria Rivera led a Spanish expedition to the San Juan and Sangra de Cristo Mountains in search of gold and silver


  • (1803) US acquired eastern Colorado from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase
  • (1806) Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike and a small group of American soldiers discovered the peak that bears his name
  • (1848) Mexico ceded western Colorado to the United States under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
  • (1851) First permanent settlement founded in San Luis
  • (1854) Ute Indians killed fifteen inhabitants of Fort Pueblo on Christmas Day
  • (1858) Gold discovered in Denver
  • (1859) First stagecoach with mail for Cherry Creek settlements left Leavenworth, Kansas ; the first newspaper in the region, the Rocky Mountain News, was published; more gold has been found in North Clear Creek and Blue River; oil has been discovered
  • (1861) Congress established the Colorado Territory
  • (1862) First oil well being drilled
  • (1863) Denver contacted east coast by telegraph
  • (1864) Sand Creek Massacre kills 163 Indians, mostly women and children; Denver hit by devastating flood
  • (1867) Denver – permanent seat of government
  • (1870) Railroad connections established with the East
  • (1876) Colorado became 38th state
  • (1878) Telephones were installed in Denver
  • (1881) Ute tribes move to reservation
  • (1883) Electric lighting installed in Denver
  • (1886) Last public hanging in Denver occurred
  • (1894) Capitol completed at a cost of $2,500,000; Colorado was the second state to extend suffrage to women


  • (1905) Colorado had three governors in one day due to a political row
  • (1906) The US Mint in Denver issued its first coins.
  • (1908) Denver Municipal Auditorium completed in time for the Democratic National Convention
  • (1913) “Big Snow 1913” covered Colorado 3 to 5 feet; car licensing started; Helen Robinson was first elected by a woman to serve in the State Senate
  • (1916) Colorado passed ban
  • (1922) First commercial radio license in the state came out
  • (1925) Federal Reserve Bank founded in Denver
  • (1942) The federal government established Amache, a camp for Japanese Americans who were displaced from their homes on the West Coast
  • (1958) Air Force Academy built near Colorado Springs; the state was suffering from grasshopper plague
  • (1960) Denver Broncos professional football team set
  • (1967) Denver Rockets became a professional American Basketball team of the Colorado Association
  • (1974) School desegregation in Denver has begun; The Denver Rockets have been renamed the Denver Nuggets.
  • (1976) A rainstorm on the Big Thompson River led to major flooding in Larimer County, killing more than 145 people
  • (1993) Colorado Rockies became Major League Baseball’s first regional team
  • (1995) Quebec Nordiques National Hockey League team moved to Colorado and became the Colorado Avalanche; Denver International Airport opened; Denver landed a National Hockey League franchise; The Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup; careless tourists lit the Buffalo Creek fire, which scorched 12,000 acres and destroyed nine homes; Lightning struck at Mesa Verde National Park that resulted in fires that burned 4,600 acres
  • (1997) Oklahoma City bombing trials held in Denver
  • (1998) Denver Broncos win Super Bowl
  • (1999) Denver Broncos win Super Bowl again; Bill Owens elected governor (the state’s first Republican governor in 24 years); 12 students and one teacher killed and 23 others injured at Columbine High School in Denver


  • (2000) Hello Meadow fire ravaged 10,800 acres and destroyed 51 homes; bobcat fire burned 10,600 acres and destroyed 22 structures; Extreme reactionary fire raged across 23,000 acres in Table Mountain Verde National Park
  • (2001) Colorado Avalanche won NHL Stanley Cup
  • (2002) Fire at Peak Natinal Forest burned at the rate of 500 acres per hour
  • (2005) Referendum C, a five-year tax package that changed the Taxpayers’ bill of rights passed by voters
  • (2007) Largest recorded avalanche attacked Berthuda Pass paved road buried cars
  • (2011) Spoiled cantaloupes from a Colorado farm caused a listeria outbreak, killed 16, over 70 fell ill

Colorado History