Before the volcanic blast that formed these famous mountains, the area was tropical. Dinosaurs roamed the area. Palms and ferns were the flora of the time.
Early cavemen ventured into the U.S. from the land bridge across the Bering Strait connecting present day Russia to Alaska. These people populated the western region of the U.S. and evolved into our Native American founders.
Fast forward thousands of years. Spanish explorers visited the territory in search of gold and other riches.
Next came the French. They were expanding their hold in undiscovered U.S. west of the Mississippi. Then American explorers traveled west to map out their new acquisition from the French, the Louisiana Purchase.
Other Americans moved west from colonial U.S. to find their adventures. Mountain men who ventured into the Colorado territory decided to live in this rugged land. French fur trappers came to the territory for the beaver pelts that were so sought after for hats, coats and furs for rich folks.
A man named Zebulon Pike explored central Colorado and discovered the famous mountain that bears his name. Mr. Pike opened up the Colorado Territory to further exploration. Many were searching for riches just like the Spanish a few hundred years before.
And they found it. The gold rush was on in Colorado. Thousands raced from the east to make their fortune with the slogan “Pikes Peak or Bust” on their lips or painted on their wagons. Towns that you now know today, such as Denver, Aspen, Leadville, were once tent cities set up around gold strikes.
With the fledgling towns established, lawlessness, gambling, houses of ill repute and outlaws invaded the gold rush scene. Many old west legends made Colorado a stopping point on their travels to other parts of the established west.
When the gold finally was mined out, gold miners either left the area to head back east or stayed on the plains of Colorado to farm the land. Some hearty souls joined wagon trains heading west, because our new country was suddenly getting larger and more people were expanding into the territory.
With the influx of these new residents, the original owners of the land, the Native Americans, were being pushed off of their property.
The Indians retaliated against this encroachment and bloody battles between them and the U.S. government occurred.
By the turn of the century, 1899, Colorado was fairly well settled and established as a state. So you can see, in such as short span of time, Colorado was a part of the wild west legend in a very big way.
When you come to visit, think about where you are walking, or the mountains you are taking pictures of.
Hundreds of years ago, the first explorers were looking at exactly the same thing, walking in the same area. Definitely gives you a sense of perspective.