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General Colorado Information



August 1, 1876 as the 38th state





From the Spanish language, Colorado is the word for "colored red"


"Centennial State" because it became a state 100 years after the signing of our nation's Declaration of Independence.



"Nil Sine Numine", Latin for "Nothing without Providence"


Adopted on June 5, 1911. Originally designed by Andrew Carlisle.



The circular Seal of the State of Colorado is an adaptation of the Territorial Seal. The only changes made in the design being the substitution of the words, "State of Colorado" and the figures "1876" for the corresponding inscriptions on the territorial seal. The first General Assembly of the State of Colorado approved the adoption of the state seal on March 15, 1877. The Colorado Secretary of State alone is authorized to affix the Great Seal of Colorado to any document whatsoever.

Time Zone:

Mountain Time Zone - Adjust clock forward 1 hour on the 1st Sunday in April and back 1 hour on the last Sunday in October.



Average elevation of 6,800 feet (2,073 m)
Highest point - Mount Elbert 14,433 feet
Lowest point - Arkansas Valley 3,350 feet



4,301,261 (2000 census)


Colorado has 58 mountains that soar over 14,000 feet. Only 54 are considered Official fourteeners.


Major Rivers:

Arkansas, Colorado, North Platte, Rio Grande, South Platte


Mountain Range:

Rocky Mountains



8th largest state in US



104,247 square miles total
453 square miles of water
103,794 square miles of land


Oldest Town:

San Luis, 1851

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Official State Icons


State Animal:

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

State Bird:

Lark Bunting

State Fish:

Greenback Cutthroat Trout


State Flower:

White and lavender Columbine

State Folk Dance:

Square dance

State Fossil:



State Gemstone:



State Grass:

Blue Grama grass

State Insect:

Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly

State Tree:

Colorado Blue Spruce


State Holidays:

Apart from the usual U.S. non-holiday observances, the State of Colorado also orders the observance of the following dates:

Susan B Anthony Day: February 15
Arbor Day: 3rd Friday in April
Colorado Day: 1st Monday in August
Leif Erikson Day: October 9


State Song:

"Where the Columbines Grow" by A.J. Fynn, 1915
Tis the land where the columbines grow,
Overlooking the plains far below,
While the cool summer breeze in the evergreen trees
Softly sings where the columbines grow.

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Lava, Dinosaurs, and Landforms: Colorado's Early, Early History
Over the years, the land that we call Colorado has been shaped by some of the Earth's most powerful forces - lava, rain, snow, wind, creeping masses of ice, earthquakes, floods, landslides, volcanoes, and even colliding and expanding land masses. Here are a few highlights:

  • 4.6 billion years ago: The Earth was formed.
  • 2.3 billion years ago: Colorado's oldest rocks were formed.
  • 145 to 65 million years ago: Dinosaurs lived in Colorado.
  • 60 million years ago: The modern Rocky Mountains were formed.
  • 54 million to 10,000 years ago: Large mammals such as sloths, rhinos, mastodons, and saber-toothed tigers ruled Colorado.
  • 20,000 to 10,000 years ago: The last Ice Age ended, and water from melting glaciers formed much of the landscape we now think of as Colorado.
  • 10,000 years ago: The first known human inhabitants of Colorado lived near the Four Corners area.

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Dinosaur Bones
There are lots of fossils in Colorado - fish, insects, plants, sea creatures, whole forests that have been petrified - but especially, there are dinosaur bones. And there are enough to make this state one of the most famous fossil sources in the world.

  • Near Morrison, and between Grand Junction and Dinosaur National Monument, scientists have found complete skeletons of diplodocus, allosaurus, brontosaurus, and stegosaurus.
  • You can see dinosaur footprints in sandstone rocks around the state, including on the hogbacks just west of Denver.

In the Florissant Fossil Beds, scientists have found more than 50,000 museum-grade specimens, including lots of trees, insects, and small mammals. And near the Pawnee Buttes, they've uncovered early horses and rhinoceroses.

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Minerals and Rocks
Gold might be what made Colorado famous, but the mountains contain other rocks and minerals that humans value. Native Americans made arrowheads for their spears from chalcedony and used turquoise for jewelry. Today, we also use Rhodochrosite (our state mineral), silver, aquamarine, topaz, and smoky quartz for jewelry. Coal, oil, shale, gypsum, marble, and other Colorado resources heat our homes, fertilize our fields, and help us in all sorts of other practical ways.

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Petroglyphs are pictures carved into rocks by ancient people. They can be found in many parts of Colorado, but the ones we're famous for are in the western and southeastern parts of the state.

Some petroglyph scenes are simple and easy to read. Many show hunting, wildlife, and spiritual messages. But others are more complicated, and we're still trying to decode their creators' messages.

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Native Americans
About 10,000 years ago, long before Colorado became a state, the first humans came here.

Around 550 A.D., a Basketmaker culture developed in southwestern Colorado. Known as Anasazi, or "ancient ones," this native tribe farmed and built villages in rock canyons. Today parts of their intricate structures still stand at Mesa Verde National Park near Cortez. The Anasazi also were experts at weaving cloth from yucca and cotton plants and creating black-on-white pottery. Their descendants continue to design and sell this pottery in southwest Colorado.

The Fremont people made their homes in caves and raised corn in northwest Colorado, and the Utes (or "Blue Sky People") occupied Colorado's Western Slope. The Utes came to love the mountains, and they adapted to them far better than any people before - and perhaps after. They were also the first tribe to acquire horses from the Spaniards, which made following game and trading much easier.

Other tribes lived in Colorado. The eastern grasslands were occupied by the Cheyennes and Arapahos, who traded fur at Bent's Fort near La Junta. With the onset of mining and the settlers it brought to Colorado, the government steadily confined Indians to smaller and smaller tracts of land, which we now call reservations.

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Spaniards were the first Europeans to see Colorado. Knight-in-armor Coronado is thought to have crossed into southeastern Colorado on an expedition in 1541.

In 1776, two priests explored Colorado's western plateaus and valleys. Then, in 1806, Zebulon M. Pike became the first American to visit here. President Thomas Jefferson had bought the land that is now Colorado from France in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and he sent Pike to explore this part of the vast new territory.

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Homesteaders and Pioneers
Pioneers from the East fled to Colorado and the West in search of fortune. Riding in covered wagons with little protection against the weather, many died on their long journey across the plains. Some did make it to Colorado, however, and were among the first to stake land claims in the eastern part of the state.

The Pikes Peak gold rush, which helped create boomtowns like Central City, began in 1859. Soon railroads were installed to help transport miners, tools, and precious minerals. Many of those old railroads still run today, including the Georgetown Loop and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

This era was a hard time for Colorado's Native Americans, who lost lives and lands to white settlers. In one case, while the Cheyennes and Arapahos were waiting to sign a peace treaty with Governor John Evans, a military force staged a surprise attack and killed 130 of their men, women, and children. This event was called the Sand Creek Massacre, and it led to five years of warfare in Colorado between the Cheyennes and the U.S. Army.

In 1861, Colorado became a U.S. Territory, and William Gilpin became the first governor. Coloradans built their own rail line. This faster mode of transportation encouraged mining, tourism, ranching, and business in general. Colorado became the 38th state in 1876.


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