Sherman, Room 1B20
Scope and Content Note
The Tourism Collection at the Colorado State Archives is an assemblage of yearbooks, documents, photographs, and postcards from the various state agencies that dealt with the tourist industry in Colorado from 1872-1993. It consists of approximately 2,000 photographs and 755 postcards that promoted immigration and tourism to the state. In addition, there are brochures and pamphlets, posters, bulletins, publications, scrapbooks, reports, correspondence, and administrative files from the state agencies that directed promotional activities.
The collection reflects how Coloradans wished their state to be viewed in order to attract settlers and visitors to the state. As such, the collection documents the state's growth and economic development as well as the tourism industry. Each of the counties are highlighted especially through photographs and scrapbooks of the local industries, towns, and activities. The state's scenery is documented as well as the mode of transportation that people used to see the sites, through the photographs, postcards, pamphlets, and posters. The ski industry is also well documented through this media. Reports provide information and statistics concerning the growth of the state as well as the tourist industry. Especially valuable in this regard is the Colorado Yearbook which annually compiled information about the state until 1964. Administrative files and correspondence document the plans and policies of the agencies that promoted immigration and tourism.
By Erin McDanal Staff Archivist
In the 1860's and 1870's, the promise of gold and silver began to lure miners and entrepreneurs to the Rocky Mountains. Railroads linked market centers with the mining areas as well as with recently established agricultural communities along the lines throughout the Great Plains region. A territorial Board of Immigration was set up in 1872 to be "the only delegated and authorized agent of the Territory to promote immigration." Because of these factors, the population in the Colorado area burgeoned.
The population continued to grow as a few wet years in the 1880's gave the High Plains region of eastern Colorado a reputation as an especially suitable place for farming. A more characteristic period of drought following these years, however, forced an exodus of farmers from the state. With improved dryland agricultural techniques and the 1909 Enlarged Homestead Act, potential farmers again began settling in eastern Colorado.
In order to encourage this trend, the Colorado State Board of Immigration was created in 1909 for the "purpose of properly advertising the resources and attractions of the State of Colorado among the people of other States and nations, so that by immigration and investments the development of the State may be stimulated and its population increased." The responsibilities of the Board included collecting reliable information and statistics regarding agriculture, manufacturing, climate, and health and to publish this material. The Immigration Board was also directed to prepare and circulate other publications regarding Colorado; visit and investigate the resources in the state in order to advertise and exploit various localities; visit other states and there distribute advertising material; and exhibit Colorado products and views at national shows and conferences.
During the last half of 1910, the Board of Immigration received 4,831 inquiries requesting information about Colorado lands and investment opportunities. They also distributed a large number of publications and advertising regarding Colorado. Over 54,000 pamphlets pertaining to agriculture, stock raising, horticulture, and other miscellaneous subjects were sent to inquirers while almost one million pamphlets were distributed at various congresses and shows throughout the country. In 1910, at the United States Land Irrigation Exposition in Chicago, 645,000 pamphlets were distributed. Much of this literature originated with agricultural organizations in the Arkansas Valley and with the railroads which continued to promote settlement along the lines in Colorado.
Other promotional activities of the Board of Immigration included advertising in numerous newspapers in the midwest and other regions and sending inquiries to almost every town in the state from people interested in relocating to Colorado. The Board also attempted to establish ties to potential colony settlers and established relations with various immigrant agencies.
Although advertising agricultural resources of the state in order to attract farmers and ranchers was the first work undertaken by the Board, it also began to revive Colorado's reputation as a mining state. The Immigration Board established a mining news service which sent out newsletters to all the principal American and English periodicals in which mining news was published. Special articles on the mining industry were published by major journals and advertisements were placed in such national newspapers as the New York Herald and the Wall Street Journal.
During World War I the general scope of the Board of Immigration changed. The Board temporarily devoted its entire strength to cooperating with the state and federal governments in the war effort and made no exceptional efforts to induce people from other states to move to Colorado. Its energies were directed to encouraging more intensive cultivation of unoccupied lands to increase the state's production of war crops. In preparation for a high rate of westward immigration flow after the war, however, the Board of Immigration made surveys of the state to determine the condition of development in each county and the lands and irrigation projects capable of further development. The Board also worked with the federal government to make available millions of acres of idle land to settlers of modest means. Legislation in 1919 provided the groundwork for this plan and created a Land Settlement Board.
The compilation of accurate statistics concerning Colorado and its industries was a priority following the war so that Colorado and the rest of the nation would know what resources existed here. Since one of the major goals of the Board was to compile a set of accurate statistics about Colorado, the Board of Immigration began to publish the Colorado Yearbook in 1918. The Yearbook was subsequently published annually and expanded. The first effort included agricultural statistics as well as much general information regarding such subjects as Colorado's climate, business and industry, highways, schools, railways, counties, and taxation.
Speculation that Colorado would be innundated with immigrants following the war was overly optimistic due to the decline in demand for foodstuffs in Europe by 1921. Agriculture was depressed for the next two decades which was reflected in the cutbacks to the Board of Immigration. The Yearbook became biennial and in 1935 the Board of Immigration was abolished and its duties transferred to the newly created State Planning Commission. Rather than trying to attract people to the state as its primary objective, the Planning Commission was directed to promote the "conservation and orderly development of the natural resources of Colorado and the intelligent and economical coordination of its public works."
The Commission's role became primarily one of planning for the growth and development of the state which also included planning for its public works and its institutions. Duties transferred to the new Planning Commission from the Board of Immigration included "the collection of information and statistics regarding Colorado, preparation of pamphlets and literature to attract tourists and investors,...and stimulate advertising and exploitation...to promote Colorado."
In 1941, however, a new state agency (the State Advertising and Publicity Committee) was created as a result of insufficient appropriations given to the State Planning Commission for its advertising functions. During the war years the military population in Colorado grew significantly with the creation of Lowry Airfield (in Denver) and Fort Carson (near Colorado Springs). As a result, the State Advertising and Publicity Committee focused on promoting Colorado as a tourist area as well as an ideal place to settle after the war. Another boom cycle in Colorado's population growth occurred following World War II as veterans and others returned to the state.
During the next four decades Colorado consistently attracted more tourists and settlers because of the scenery, recreational opportunities, and quality of life offered here. The ski and tourism industries became more important to the state economy as more money was spent for travel and recreation in the state. In 1957, the responsibilities to promote Colorado were placed in the Division of Planning within the Executive Department.
In 1974 the Office of State Planning and Budgeting was created as a principal department by an act of the General Assembly. Under this department, the Divisions of State Planning and State Budgeting were created. In 1983 the Office of Planning and Budget was transferred to the Governor's Office and the Colorado Tourism Board was created within the Department of Local Affairs. Its primary role was to market Colorado as a premier vacation destination. House Bill No. 1476 declared "that the tourism and travel industries are vital to the general welfare, economic well-being, and employment opportunities of the state...Additionally, it is the policy of this state to provide a long-term, continuing investment in tourism and travel promotion and to support such investment by a separate fund financed by special sales taxes on the tourist-related industries."
Through advertising, research, public relations, publications, and Welcome Center operations, the Board worked to increase tourism. Its aim was to increase visitation by domestic and international visitors, to increase their length of stay, to present Colorado as a multi-dimensional vacation spot and strengthen the partnerships with the travel and tourism industries. Although receiving an average of 850,000 requests for information a year, the Tourism Board lost its tax-based funding in the November, 1993, election and was abolished.
Aragon, Tova and Sarah Zaske, "Colorado Tourism." Unpublished paper written for the Colorado State Archives, November, 1994.
Colorado Board of Immigration. Colorado Yearbook. 1918-1931.
Colorado Board of Immigration. First Annual Report, 1910.
Colorado Board of Immigration. Fourth Biennial Report, 1919.
Colorado Board of Immigration. "Report to the Governor for 1910: Work of the Colorado State Board of Immigration."
Colorado Session Laws 1909, Chapter 59; 1919, Chapter 151; 1935, Chapter 212; 1967, Chapter 428; 1974, Chapter 32; 1983, Chapter 272.
Colorado State Planning Commission. Colorado Yearbook. 1935-1950.
Colorado State Planning Division. Colorado Yearbook. 1956-1964.
Colorado Statutes Annotated (CSA) 1935, Chapter 84.
Colorado Yearbook. 1918-1964.
Ubbelohde, Carl, Maxine Benson and Duane A. Smith. A Colorado History. Boulder Co: Pruett Publishing Company, 1972.
In order to obtain access to the Tourism Collection please contact the Colorado State Archives. We will be happy to provide you with additional information concerning this collection or others. We have search, handling, and copy fees. Please contact us in order to find out the charges for your request.