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Colorado State History

Native peoples have lived in the area of Colorado for thousands of years.

One of the earliest people were known to be hunter-gatherers and were exceptional basket weavers.

Related: Colorado State Facts

Seal Of Colorado

They lived in adobe huts or cliff caves.

By the 1500s, when Europeans began visiting the area, there were many North American tribes occupying the eastern plains, such as the Comanche, Apache, Cheyenne, and Arapaho.

They built shelters called teepees made of poles and buffalo hides that could be dismantled and moved when the tribe followed the herds of buffalo. The Ute tribes lived in the western mountains.

They were also hunter-gatherers and were accomplished warriors. They lived in wickiups – dome-shaped huts covered with brush.

These huts could also be dismantled whenever the tribe needed to move.


Arrival of Europeans

In 1541, Francisco de Coronado from Spain was the first European to visit the area of Colorado searching for gold, which he did not find.

One hundred and forty years later, French explorer de la Salle arrived and claimed the land for France. Colorado became a French territory and part of France’s Louisiana territory.


In 1803, the United States purchased the eastern part of Colorado from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Zebulon Pike, an American explorer, and his group of men followed the Arkansas River and mapped the region, including the mountain which became known as Pikes Peak.

Zebulon Pike

Settlers Arrive in Colorado

By the 1800s, word had spread to the people living in the eastern part of the United States that Colorado was a place to make a fortune by trapping and trading in furs.

People had easy access to Colorado when the Santa Fe Trail opened in 1821. This trail connected Missouri to New Mexico and passed through the southeast of Colorado.

Fort Bent was the first permanent white settlement in Colorado and operated as a trading post.

Map Of Santa Fe


Colorado was under the control of the United States after the Mexican-American war ended in 1848.

Ten years later, Pikes Peak Colorado was the destination for thousands of people when gold was discovered nearby.


Because Colorado saw a surge in population, it was named a territory of the United States in 1861.

Colorado continued to increase in population after the building of the Denver Pacific Railway, which finally reached Denver, Colorado in 1870.

Six years later, in 1876, Colorado was made the 38th state of the United States.

Flag Of Colorado


By the 1500s, what tribes lived on the plains of Colorado?

Who was the first European to visit the Colorado area and when?


When did the first settlers arrive in Colorado and what were they searching for?

What country ruled the Colorado area after the Mexican-American War?

What was the significance of the Denver Pacific Railway?

Alpine Tunnel


The Comanche, Apache, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes inhabited the plains of Colorado by the 1500s.

In 1541, Francisco de Coronado from Spain was the first European to visit the area of Colorado searching for gold.

Chief Ouray Brady Handy

Settlers arrived in Colorado in the 1800s and they wanted to make their fortune by trapping and selling furs.

After the Mexican-American War ended, Colorado was under the control of the United States.

The Denver Pacific Railway linked the eastern states to Denver, Colorado, and caused a huge influx of settlers.

US State History


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