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Colorado: The Centennial State

The 38th state has been home to many different peoples.

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Colorado is sometimes called the “Centennial State.” This is because it joined the Union in the one-hundredth year after the Declaration of Independence. It is the 38th state. Colorado has a long history that began with native people living on the land, then Europeans settlers and the discovery of gold.

The Ancient Anasazi

Thousands of years ago, the Basket Makers, as the natives were called, lived in the southwestern area of Colorado. They were well-known for their basket weaving, which gave them their nickname. Their culture developed into the Anasazi (“ancient ones”) around AD 500. These people made amazing adobe (earth or mud) houses that were sometimes built into the sides of cliffs. The buildings had many rooms and could hold entire communities. Some believe the Anasazi made their homes in the sides of cliffs to keep them safe from dangerous creatures.

Over time, the Anasazi disappeared, and other Native tribes began living in the territory.

European Explorers

Around 1540-41, the Spanish explorer Francisco Vazquez de Coronado arrived from Mexico. He was searching for the Seven Cities of Cibola, where the streets were thought to be paved with gold. When he didn’t find the city, he left the area. In 1682, other explorers arrived. Frenchman Robert de La Salle entered eastern Colorado and claimed the land for France.

In 1803, the United States bought eastern Colorado from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1806, American explorer Zebulon Pike traveled to the area and discovered a very high mountain that is now called Pikes Peak.

In 1848, the Mexican-American war ended, and the United States gained control of western Colorado. Ten years later, gold was discovered near Pikes Peak. Thousands of gold-seekers rushed to Colorado with the motto “Pikes Peak or Bust.”

Interesting Facts

  • On July 4th, 1869, the world’s first rodeo was held at Deer Trail.
  • Rocky Ford is the “melon capital of the world.”
Kelli Ballard

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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