A Snapshot of Denver History

newsletter_headerjpg - 2

Mustang sculpture at Denver International Airport?
Spooky demon mustang sculpture that greeted me outside the Denver airport.

This past week, I flew to Denver for a work conference. I had never been to the Mile High City before, so I was eager to learn more about it’s illustrious history. Here are some fun facts I learned:

  • Denver is one of the few cities in history that was not built on a road, railroad, lake, navigable river, or body of water when it was founded. It just happened to be where the first few flakes of gold were found in 1858.
  • The first permanent structure in Denver was a saloon.
  • Both Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull have dined at Denver’s Buckhorn Exchange, a restaurant that’s still one of the most popular in the city.
  • Buffalo Bill’s Grave is situated just outside Denver.
  • Local boosters named the frontier mining camp on the South Platte River “Denver City” after Kansas Territorial Governor James Denver in hopes of gaining political favor. Unfortunately, Denver had retired by the time they named the town.
  • There were originally three separate towns, with three separate names, where Denver now stands. In 1859, the other names were dropped in return for a barrel of whiskey to be shared by all.
  • Denver is known as the Mile High City because the 13th step of the state capital building in Denver is exactly one mile above sea level.

(The above facts were taken from this website.)

  • ย The name “Denver City” became simply “Denver” in 1865 when it became the Territorial capital.

One of the few historic buildings I did recognize while downtown was the classic Brown Palace Hotel. I did not have the chance to walk through it, though I would have loved to. But here are some more fascinating tidbits about it’s historic significance:Brown Palace Hotel Denver 2

  • The Brown Palace Hotel opened its doors in the heart of downtown Denver on August 12, 1892. The hotel has remained open and welcomed guests every minute of every day since opening.
  • Every U.S. president has visited The Brown Palace since Teddy Roosevelt (1905), with the exception of Calvin Coolidge.
  • Except for crackers and sandwich bread, the hotel prepares all of its own baked goods in a unique, carousel oven – catalogued at more than 65 years old. The oven is one of only three in the world known to be in existence and is still used every day.
  • President Eisenhower hit a wayward golf ball while practicing in the room and made a dent in the fireplace mantel in the Eisenhower Suite. It remains today in a shadowbox as a souvenir.

(For more fun facts about the historic Brown Palace Hotel, visit their website here.)

What is the most interesting fact or souvenir you’ve picked up while on a trip?

Have you ever been to Denver?

Website | + posts

For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.

31 thoughts on “A Snapshot of Denver History”

  1. I did some post-graduate studies in Denver, and I found it ironic that the Detention Center downtown was directly across a little side street from the Denver Mint. Granted, the courthouse, police station, etc. are also in the area, but all the same . . .

  2. Karen, I ate at the Brown Palace once. My husband is a HUGE Denver fan. He goes every year for the Midwest Livestock Show with three of his cattlemen buddies and just loves the town.

    The Brown Palace is beautiful. I love Denver’s downtown street car that cruises along hundreds of little shops and cafes.

    Very cool town.

    • Yes! That 16th Street Mall was fun. Since I was by myself, I didn’t really go out too much after dark, but I did venture out to a couple local restaurants for meals and got to see a little bit of the downtown area. Very fun!

  3. We also took a bus ride out into the mountains and it was so lovely. We went to an old town that had some claim to fame, really well preserved, like….the oldest still existing mining town in America or some such thing.

    Love walking in the middle of all that history.

  4. I’ve never been to Denver but I’d like to see that “demon mustang sculpture,” that caption was so funny I almost spit out my coffee ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Very interesting, Karen! Lots of facts I didn’t know. I love Colorado and have been there several times but never to Denver. I’ve always wanted to go to the Brown Palace. And the Mint! Maybe one of these days. Sounds like you had a great time.

  6. Karen! If I’d known you were that close to the Springs, I would’ve totally driven up and taken you out to dinner one night! Denver is an interesting city to visit, to be sure, but it’s a bit too big and overrun with liberals to be a good place to live these days, IMHO. ๐Ÿ™‚ Colorado Springs is higher, smaller, cleaner, and we have America’s mountain. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not that I’m, you know, biased or anything…

    • That would have been so much fun, Amy! And, I have to say I agree with you. I’ve never been a city girl, but I adore the mountains. I’ve been to Colorado Springs twice, and loved it. The first time I went was with my husband to a Christian ministry conference at Glen Eyrie. Talk about a first impression! That place was gorgeous! I’d love to go back someday.

  7. I LOVE Denver, Colorado Springs, Castle Rock, Deckers……I just plain love Colorado! There is so much history, colorful history, that I learn something new every time I am there. The museum in Waldon has things from one character from one of my favorite books, Prairie by Anna Lee Waldo. It tells of Charles Burton Irwin.

    • I’m a big fan of Colorado, too, Connie. If my husband and I ever decide to leave Texas, that is where I’d like to go. How fun for you to find a museum about one of your favorite book characters. Very cool!

  8. I was born in Colorado so yes I have been to Denver many times. You asked about unusual souvenirs we have picked up on trips. Probably the most unusual one for me was a Catholic medal blessed by Pope John the Twenty Third when the group I was in got to attend the Pope’s summer home outside Rome and be blessed by him. Tho I was not a Catholic it seemed to be a very cherished momento at the time. I later gave it to my old college roommate who was a Catholic.

    • So interesting, Jackie! I bet your college roommate really appreciated that. My daughter and I are going on a school trip over spring break to Italy and Greece. Rome is one of our stops. I can’t wait! I’ve never been to that part of the world and can’t wait to soak up all the phenomenal history over there.

  9. Very interesting post Karen!
    I love this kind of stuff!
    I can’t think of an interesting fact from a trip off the top of my head…but via my trip to work every day I end up in Dubuque, IA which is the oldest city in Iowa and right on the tri-state border–I can look out our office windows and see Illinois and Wisconsin accross the river.

    • That counts, Tabitha! I remember stopping at the Four Corners on a vacation one time where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona meet. That was pretty cool. Being able to stand in four states all at once. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Hi Karen,
    I haven’t been to Denver but I know there’s a lot of history there! I have a beautiful piece of artwork, a vase made in Arizona, handpainted in the most wonderful southwestern colors. It was an extravagance, but nowadays, I simply like to add to my shot glass collection of places I’ve been. Oh, and my daughter brought me back a gorgeous dish from Tuscany while on her honeymoon. Love that too.

    • Charlene – That vase sounds beautiful! And a dish from Tuscany? Gorgeous, I’m sure. I tend toward small souvenirs as well for most trips. My refrigerator is covered with magnets from all the places I’ve been. I like to get ones with pictures of the places whenever possible, so they will jog my memory. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. We lived in Colorado Springs for 3 years. Our children were young at the time, so our trips to Denver centered around the things they would enjoy. The first I heard of the Brown Hotel was here on Petticoats and Pistols. We will hopefully be visiting the area again and take an adult’s tour of Denver. We won’t be staying at the Brown, I checked their rates, but they have some interesting tours I would like to take. Both my husband and I enjoy visiting historic and old buildings, so we would both be interested in this.

    Before our first trip to Yellowstone, I didn’t realize it was a huge volcanic crater. It is one of the most active volcanic areas in the world. The ground has sen rising over the years, and it is my understanding that the magma chamber is closer to the surface than ever. Animals are beginning to act restless. Not only would an eruption destroy a geologic treasure, but the fallout would cause serious problems for the entire country and beyond.

    • Hi, Patricia! I visited Yellowstone on a family vacation as a child. I remember Old Faithful and the Indian doll I bought in the gift shop. Not much else. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have seen news about the animals leaving the park. Makes one wonder about what could be in store, doesn’t it? A little frightening to think about. I pray we won’t have a major eruption there. So many lives would be lost.

  12. My brother used to live outside of Denver so when we lived in Albuquerque, we would drive up and visit him! I love that city. It’s so pretty there Glad you got to go there, Karen! It’s great to visit new places. I’ve flown into Denver many times also so I know the airport well! Thanks for your post!

    • The Denver airport is a fascinating building, Valri. Such unique architecture. I loved how the roof seemed to be like a tent suspended on pillars, though I’m guessing it’s supposed to mimic mountain peaks. Very interesting place.

  13. The closest I’ve been to Denver is Boulder. We chose to stay in the college town instead of visiting the big city. I’ve also been to Steamboat Springs skiing. Gorgeous country!

    I usually only purchase t-shirts on our travels. One time, I did purchase a beautiful silver & turquoise bracelet when we visited a college friend in Tucson.

    • I’ve never been to Boulder, Laurie, but it sounds more my speed. I really prefer to be out in the mountains than in the city.

      I’ve never been to Steamboat Springs, either, but I love that name! It sounds like it belongs in a novel somewhere. ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments are closed.