Colorado FirstsThis page is a chronological list of when and where events or ideas first occurred in our state.
13,000 B.C. - The first people who inhabited the area now known as Colorado were the Big Game Hunters who may have been here 15,000 years ago, but according to evidence, were at least here by 9200 B.C.. Flint points were found in Weld County along the South Platte River that date from this period.
1807 - South Park - First European American to report finding gold in Colorado was James Purcell.
1851 - San Luis - First non-Indian permanent settlement in Colorado was founded in the San Luis Valley.
1852 - Culbera - First decreed irrigation ditch dug. It is recorded as the "San Luis People's Ditch" with the water decree being dated April 10, 1852, the date the water referee determined the actual digging and use of the ditch began.
1858 - Arapahoe County - First gold panned in Colorado at the mouth of Dry Creek where it empties into the South Platte River.
1859 - Denver - First stagecoach of the Pikes Peak Express arrives from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
1859 - Auraria - First school was established by O.J. Goldrick.
1859 - Denver - First newspaper was published, Rocky Mountain News.
1859 - Central City - First Masonic Lodge Building built.
1859 - Auraria - First masonic meeting of a lodge, October 1.
1860 - Denver - First public library opens.
1861 - Denver - First Territorial Governor and Legislature appointed by President Abraham Lincoln.
1862 - First colony of bees brought to Colorado.
1864 - Georgetown - First important silver vein, the Belmont Lode, was discovered in Clear Creek County.
1864 - Denver- First attempt by the citizens to create a state.
1864 - Denver - First higher education institution founded, Colorado Seminary (which later became Denver University).
1865 - Denver - First all black church congregation was established at the Zion Baptist Church.
1866 - Denver - First territorial state fair was held.
1867 – Golden – The first paper mill was established and put in to operation.
1868 - Canon City - First territorial prison opened.
1869 - Blackhawk - First important smelter constructed in Colorado, begins the era of hard rock mining.
1869 - Deer Trail - First rodeo held in Colorado and possibly the United States.
1869 - Kit Carson - First trainload of cattle shipped east over the Kansas Pacific Railroad.
1870 - Westcliffe - First agricultural colony established by the German Colonization Company. It eventually failed, but immigrants stayed and settled the area.
1871 - Denver - First horse-drawn street car appears.
1871 - Denver - First gas street lights installed in Colorado.
1871 - Boulder - First public university opens, University of Colorado - Boulder.
1876 - Denver - First state legislature convened.
1876 - Lake City - The first church built in western Colorado was a Presbyterian church built here by Rev. George M. Darley.
1876 - Las Animas - The first legal hanging in the state of Colorado occurred here on August 1. James Miller was hung after having been convicted of murder.
1877 - Ouray County - The Virginia Mine in the Mt. Sneffels mining district was the first mine in Colorado to use electricity for lighting purposes.
1878 - Denver - First attempt to grant women the right to vote, it was defeated.
1879 - Denver - First telephone system in the state.
1881 - Denver - First electric generating station built west of the Mississippi River.
1881 - Henderson - First state fish hatchery built 8.5 miles northeast of Denver.
1882 - Pueblo - First steel manufactured west of the Missouri River at the Colorado Fuel & Iron Works plant.
1885 - Denver - First electric street car system is established.
1886 - Grand Junction - The Fifth Street bridge, or the "Grand Junction Bridge," (740 ft. long) across the Colorado River (then called the Grand River) was completed. This was the first bridge paid for by state funds.
1887 - Aspen - First town to provide electricity to all its residents.
1889 - Denver - First horticultural show in Colorado.
1889 - Golden - The first collegiate football game played in Colorado was between the Colorado School of Mines and Colorado College.
1890 - Denver - First work started on the State Capitol Building.
1891 - Caňon City - Construction began on the State's first public water project, the Colorado State Canal No.1. This canal brought water from the Arkansas River near the Royal Gorge via a series of tunnels to irrigate farmland northeast of the city. The canal was built with convict labor from the nearby State Penitentiary, but remained unused for several years due to the lack of water diversion rights from the river.
1891 - Meeker - First national forest is set aside, the White River National Forest near Meeker.
1892 - Denver - First fireproof building in Colorado was the Brown Palace Hotel.
1892 - Denver - Davis H. Waite was the first and only governor in Colorado history to be elected from a third party (Populist).
1893 - Statewide - Colorado was the first state in which all registered voters voted for the rights of women to vote. Colorado was the second state in the nation to allow suffrage rights to women.
1893 - Denver - Davis H. Waite was the first Colorado governor to occupy the State Capitol Building.
1894 - Statewide - The women of Colorado voted in the first general election after women's suffrage had become law.
1894 - Statewide - On November 6, the first three women ever elected to a state legislature in the United States were elected to the Colorado General Assembly. They were Clara Cressingham, R-Arapahoe County; Carrie Holly, R-Pueblo County; and Frances Klock, R-Arapahoe County.
1894 - Cripple Creek - Davis Waite was the first governor in U.S. history to call out the State Militia to protect striking workers.
1899 - Grand Junction - First sugar beet factory built in Colorado.
1899 - Denver - First cement plant built in Denver and later moved to Portland, Colorado.
1903 - Colorado Springs - First automobile endurance race was held, going from Denver to Colorado Springs.
1903 - Denver - First hunting licenses were issued for a one dollar fee.
1906 - Mancos - First national park (Mesa Verde) established in Colorado. This was also the first national park in the nation which was established to preserve human occupation of a region (Anazazi).
1906 - Denver - First coins produced at the U.S. Mint in Denver.
1907 - Silver Plume - The first passenger tramway in the nation. The Sunrise Peak Aerial Tramway began operation with twenty-six gondola cars that carried sightseers 2000 feet up Pendleton Mountain.
1907 - Denver - First juvenile court in the nation is created by Judge Ben B. Linsday.
1909 - Denver - First state highway is funded and built.
1912 - Appleton - First consolidated school in Colorado.
1913 - Denver - Colorado swore in its first woman elected to serve in the State Senate. She was Helen R. Robinson, R-Arapahoe County.
1913 - Denver - First assessment of property for tax purposes is approved. The value statewide is $1,306,536,692.
1914 - Denver - First mill levy tax is voted for by the people to build roads.
1914 - Genesee - The first buffalo were reintroduced back into the state at this Denver mountain park located to the west of Denver.
1919 - Denver - The first Colorado Poet Laureate was appointed. Alice Polk Hill was conferred this recognition by Governor Shoup.
1919 - Denver - First state gasoline tax is enacted, at one cent per gallon.
1922 - Denver - First commercial radio license issued to KLZ.
1925 - Trinidad - First junior college is established in Colorado.
1926 - Pueblo - First airmail service established between Pueblo and Cheyenne, via Denver.
1928 - Rollinsville - First regular train service under the Continental Divide, via the Moffat Tunnel.
1933 - Ft. Logan - First Colorado Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps began operations.
1934 - Lamar - The first Civil Works Administration (CWA) project in Colorado is established to provide for flood control containment on Willow Creek in Prowers County.
1935 - Denver - The first cheeseburger is developed by Louis Ballast at his "Barrel" restaurant located on the 2700 Block of North Speer Blvd.
1936 - Statewide - Voters approved the first state income tax in Colorado.
1937 - Denver - Carnations are first grown in experimental greenhouses and shipped to Great Britain for the coronation of King George VI. This was the start of a significant floral industry that lasted for many years in the area.
1937 - Denver - First State Parks Board was created by the General Assembly. Big Sandy State Park in El Paso County was established. Ramah Reservoir was built over this State Park and is now called the Ramah State Wildlife Area known for its fishing and birding opportunities.
1947 - Aspen - First commercial ski area opens for business.
1952 - Denver - First television station license issued to KFEL.
1952 - Helsinki, Finland - Jerome C. Biffle was Colorado's first Black American to win a gold medal at the Olympics. He won with a 24 feet, 10 inches jump in the Long Jump.
1955 - Denver - First Black American school principal in the state, Jessie Whaley Maxwell, was appointed to Whittier Elementary.
1957 - Denver - General Assembly recreated a State Park and Recreation Board that was directed to establish the first major system of state parks and state recreation areas in Colorado.
1959 - Arapahoe County - The first state park under the new system
was Cherry Creek State Park which was established in the southeast Denver metro area. The park is situated
around the Cherry Creek Dam and is home to numerous wildlife and plants.
1962 - Walsenburg - First state park, Lathrop State Park, is created just west of this town in Huerfano County.
1978 - Jackson County - The first of several transplants of moose back to Colorado began. The animal was originally indigenous to the state, but were hunted to extinction in the early 20th century. Since this original reintroduction, moose have been reestablished in several areas near Creede and on the Grand Mesa in western Colorado.
1983 - Pueblo - First Colorado Lottery scratch tickets are sold.
1999 - San Luis Valley - The Division of Wildlife began the first reintroduction of lynx back into the Colorado wild in the South San Juan Mountains area. The last recorded capture or sighting of the animal was in 1973. The lynx was a native species to many parts of Colorado but hunting and development eventually reduced their numbers. Since 1999 there have been several other lynx releases in other parts of the Colorado mountains.
2007 - Alamosa - The first licensed deer hunt within an incorporated community was approved by the Colorado Division of Wildlife to thin the number of animals that had become a safety and health issue in this Colorado city. The licenses were issued to only archers who were authorized to reduce the number of animals on the city's golf course and riverside park.
2008 - Denver - Peter Groff became the first black president of the Colorado Senate. The 44- year old from Denver is the son of Regis Groff, a former state senator (1974-1994) who sponsored a bill to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a holiday in Colorado.
2008 - Colorado Springs - Richard "Goose" Gossage became the first Coloradan to be selected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. His major league career spanned 1972-1994 with nine different teams. Mr. Gossage attended El Paso School District #11 schools and graduated from Wasson High School in 1970.
Can you help us with this list? Please send your submittal, with a citation of the source, to the Colorado State Archives, 1313 Sherman Street - Room 1B-20, Denver CO 80203 or e-mail us.
Last modified 01/26/09