The Town of Fruita, Colorado, wanted something other than the usual “pioneers” to focus on for Colorado Heritage Week, so the city revived the story of Mike the Headless Chicken. In the 1940s, farmer Lloyd Olsen went to get a chicken for dinner. Wanting to leave as much of the neck as possible, he lopped off the chickens head as tightly as he could. However, because of a bad aim with the ax, the chicken did not die and continued to “peck” for food as it walked around the yard. Amazed, Olsen started feeding the chicken with an eyedropper. The headless bird, dubbed Mike, appeared in Life magazine and traveled to exhibitions around the country. Mike lived for 18 months after his head was chopped off. Today, Fruita’s Mike the Headless Chicken Festival is a great success.
On August 1, 1876, Colorado joined the Union. After its first bid for statehood was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson, President Ulysses S. Grant issued a proclamation declaring Colorado a state on August 1, 1876, the year the United States celebrated its centennial. Thus, the 38th state is known as the Centennial State.
Seventeen flags have fluttered over Colorado.
In the midst of the most mountainous state in the nation, a Tropical Bug Museum can be found southwest of Colorado Springs.
Colorado is the only state ever to turn down the Olympics. In 1972, they stunned the world when residents said they didn’t want the 1976 Winter Olympics. In a landmark vote on November 7th, 1972, the voters said by a 62% percent majority that they were unwilling to host the Olympics because of the cost, pollution and population boom it would have on the State Of Colorado, and the City of Denver.
Guests stayed in Denver hotels at their own risk until the first hotel with locks on the doors opened in 1872. Reported one newspaper at the time: “Guests may lie down to peaceful slumbers, undisturbed by apprehensions of getting their heads blown off.”
The Smuggler II Mine near Aspen produced the largest silver nugget in the world in 1894. It weighed more than a ton.
Colorado has one of the only working diamond mines in the United States near the Colorado-Wyoming border.
Colorado has almost as many dead towns (about 500) as live ones (650). Mining booms and busts left the mountains littered with more than 300 ghost towns that fascinate locals and tourists. The eastern plains and western canyonlands are also haunted by more than 200 ghost towns.
In 1863, one of Nevadaville’s mines, the Pat Casey (later the Ophir), was sold to Wall Street speculators. Stock shares of Nevadaville’s mines were thus the first of any Colorado corporation to be quoted on the Big Board.
Millions of cattle came north along the Goodnight-Loving Trail, a 19th-century route from Texas through Colorado to Cheyenne.
The Buckhorn Saloon (est. 1860s) holds Denver Liquor License #1.
The largest building made out of ice in North America was built in Leadville in 1895. It covered more than 3 acres, with towers as high as 90 feet. Shaped like a medieval castle, it had two ballrooms and a 16,000-square-foot skating rink. Leadville’s Ice Palace opened January 1, 1896, but was forced to close two months later because of unseasonably warm weather. To read all about the Ice Palace click here.
Colorado’s youngest prisoner was 11-year-old Antone Woode, convicted in 1893 for murdering a neighbor. He served 12 years.
President Theodore Roosevelt signed his name in hotel registration books all over Colorado. Among them: Denver’s Oxford Hotel and the Brown Palace and the Beaumont Hotel in Ouray. It was during his stay at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs that the Teddy Bear was allegedly invented when some hotel maids sewed and stuffed a toy bear for the president to cheer him up after a fruitless grizzly hunt.
On August 15, 1870, Kansas Pacific Railroad construction crews laid 10 miles of rail, the longest segment of track ever built in one day.
The ghost of Madge Reynolds is said to hang around the Reynolds Cottage at 1209 Logan Street in Denver. Years back, Madge and Fred Bonfils, then publisher of the Denver Post, were quite an item. They went horseback riding one day, and Bonfils is alleged to have spoken his true feelings for Madge but she was married. She came home and was so overwhelmed by his proposal and his pursuit, she collapsed and died. Today, people report a ghost dressed in white inhabits the north side of the house, where she was happiest.
Before the Army built Fort Garland in Costilla County, there was a Fort Massachusetts. Its absurd location allowed Indians to stand on the bluffs and shower the soldier with arrows.
When Coronado sought the Seven Golden Cities in the West, he sent a group of 15 men into southern Colorado. Upon reaching the area around Trinidad, they died from sheer exhaustion. A Spanish priest who discovered their remains named the area “Las Animas,” meaning “Souls in Purgatory,” because they died without receiving last rites.
Colorado leads all states in silver production.
In 1893, Colorado became the second state to grant women the right to vote. Perhaps one reason Colorado was the first state to popularly vote and approve women’s suffrage was because of sarcastic remarks made in local newspapers, such as: “Women would be content with smaller bribes than men, saving the candidates a great deal of expense.” and “Men have had a franchise so long and have made such a mess of it that women ought to be allowed a trial.
Katherine Lee Bates was inspired to write “America the Beautiful” from atop Pikes Peak.
Gus’s Place in Pueblo was listed three years running in Ripley’s Believe It or Not for serving more beer per barstool than any tavern in the world.
Colorado is nicknamed “the Centennial State” and was the 38th state admitted to the Union, entering on August 1, 1876.
Interstate 70’s Eisenhower Tunnel is the world’s highest auto tunnel (11,158 feet).