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Chapter Two
Colorado History, 1858-1876

When the Carts arrived in Golden and Central City in 1863-1864, Colorado was only a Territory; in fact the Colorado Territory had just been organized in 1861. Previously, this part of the state, including Denver, had been part of Kansas Territory and then the more or less unofficial Jefferson Territory.

The gold rush to Colorado had started as recently as 1858, as a result of finding scattered placer deposits along the junction of Cherry Creek and the South Platte rivers, near the site of present Denver. In 1859 what is now Denver, then called Auroria, Latin for gold, consisted of only 300 crude one room log cabins with mud thatched roofs and dirt floors, one of these crude cabins was the school.

The first true gold mine, ore in place or in a vein, was discovered at Gregory Gulch, later to be part of Central City, in May 1859. Greeley, Longmont, Loveland and Fort Collins were not founded until several years later, between the years 1870 and 1873.

The first public grade schools were opened in Denver and Central City late in 1862. The first railroads came to Denver in 1870, the Denver Pacific connecting with the new Union Pacific at Cheyenne, Wyoming and the Kansas Pacific from Kansas City.

Indian troubles continued in this area until as late as 1881.

Colorado was admitted into the Union as a state on August 1, 1876. Let me digress a moment here, particularly for you Californians. When Colorado Territory was being established by Congress in 1860-61, debates ensued as to its name. They almost named it Idaho, then some senator mentioned that it was somewhat customary to name a state or territory after some river originating therein and he proposed the name Colorado. Senator Gwin of California objected on the ground that, "It is the handsomest name that could be given any Territory or State," thus started the jealousies between the two states. The word Colorado is from the Spanish meaning red or ruddy, and first given to the Colorado River in the 1700's by the Spanish padres in Arizona.

This gives you some idea of what our folks came to and lived with; the Carts in 1863 and Zisches in the late 1870's. Those were romantic, venturesome and rough times; it required nerve and fortitude to stay and see it through. Histories record that of the thousands who migrated to Colorado from the East in those days, more than half gave up the battle and returned to the states. We can be proud that our folks were not among the quitters. They were true pioneers and soon took their part in the new and basic industries of mining, smelting, farming and railroading. None became rich nor particularly famous, but helped make up the back bone of the West. It is most unfortunate they did not leave us more details of their lives. Their stories would have been romantic and informative.

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©1958 James H. Zisch, ©1974 James H. Zisch, III