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A History of the Centennial State, Fifth Edition

By Carl Abbott, Stephen J. Leonard, and Thomas J. Noel

Publication Year: 2013

Since 1976, newcomers and natives alike have learned about the rich history of the magnificent place they call home from Colorado: A History of the Centennial State. In the fifth edition, coauthors Carl Abbott, Stephen J. Leonard, and Thomas J. Noel incorporate recent events, scholarship, and insights about the state in an accessible volume that general readers and students will enjoy.

The new edition tells of conflicts, shifting alliances, and changing ways of life as Hispanic, European, and African American settlers flooded into a region that was already home to Native Americans. Providing a balanced treatment of the entire state’s history—from Grand Junction to Lamar and from Trinidad to Craig—the authors also reveal how Denver and its surrounding communities developed and gained influence.

While continuing to elucidate the significant impact of mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism on Colorado, the fifth edition broadens and focuses its coverage by consolidating material on Native Americans into one chapter and adding a new chapter on sports history. The authors also expand their discussion of the twentieth century with updated sections on the environment, economy, politics, and recent cultural conflicts. New illustrations, updated statistics, and an extensive bibliography including Internet resources enhance this edition.

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-xi

Many people—librarians, colleagues, students, friends, family, and other scholars—helped the authors with the research that led to this book. Still others read portions of the manuscript or earlier versions of the book and made suggestions. To mention everyone who has helped would be impossible....

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pp. xiii-xvi

The United States is a plural society. Its peoples have defined themselves as members of communities within a larger nation. They remember the histories and extol the accomplishments of their particular ethnic groups. They sing the praises of their regions, states, cities, or...

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1. Mountains and Plains

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pp. 1-8

“When our small party arrived on the hill they with one accord gave three cheers to the Mexican mountains.”2 It was 2:30 in the afternoon on Saturday, November 5, 1806. Zebulon Pike and his fifteen companions, trekking westward along the Arkansas River, had just glimpsed...

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2. The First Coloradans

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pp. 9-22

For much of their history, Anglo-Americans have contemplated the westward movement of their frontier. From their eastern perspective, they have often characterized the West as a relatively empty space, a vast land of scattered, often nomadic peoples. That...

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3. New Mexico’s Northern Frontier

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pp. 23-41

In the 1600s and 1700s the province of New Mexico stretched as far north as military expeditions could enforce recognition of Spanish power among the Native Americans. To the east it reached into Apache and Comanche country until it encountered the sphere...

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4. The Pikes Peak Gold Rush

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pp. 43-62

Reports on Colorado in 1859 often mentioned the professional card shark. During the winter of 1858–59 a thousand or so people who had wintered among the cottonwood groves along the South Platte River had been amply entertained by experts in monte and faro who...

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5. The Era of the Booster

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pp. 63-80

Speculation fueled Colorado’s growth in its early years of Anglo-American settlement. Boosterism—that uniquely American combination of faith in tomorrow and vociferous promotion—was the key to the future. Success on the frontier came to those with visionary minds, to those...

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6. Exterminate Them!”: Natives 1850s–90s

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pp. 81-95

The pride in growth shared by most Coloradans masked the reality that in the land of victors there were also losers. Few of the victors—booster, businessman, or ordinary citizen—hesitated to trample on the rights and take the land of Native Americans. Most European-Americans...

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Interlude: Coloradans in 1876

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pp. 97-101

Visitors to the US Department of the Interior’s building at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 often paused to take a good look at the exhibit of the Hayden Survey, the fruits of eight years of systematic exploration of the Rockies. Amateur scientists scrutinized geological maps and the cases of minerals....

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7. The Bonanza Years

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pp. 103-121

As many Coloradans recognized at the time, the Leadville bonanza of 1877–79 foretold a boom in the 1880s. The actual results of the decade—doubling of the state’s population, tripling of its property values, sextupling of investment in factories—all reflected the...

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8. The Businessman’s State

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pp. 123-142

During the late 1800s, enterprising publishers capitalized on Colorado’s boom by selling panoramic maps of the state’s towns and publishing hefty local histories filled with flattering biographies of leading citizens. Entrepreneurs often paid to be included because...

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9. A Generation of Industrial Warfare

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pp. 143-160

From midnight until dawn on the cold night of September 30, 1903, Emma Langdon worked to get out the Victor Record. While state militiamen hammered on the door of the Record office, demanding entrance in the name of the governor of Colorado, she composed the...

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10. Farming and Ranching in the American Desert

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pp. 161-182

Colorado’s first agricultural fair opened September 21, 1866, a mile and a half northwest of Denver. An early snowstorm had turned the forty acres of fairgrounds to cold mud, but visitors were delighted with the facilities. The exhibition hall, an octagon 300 feet in circumference...

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11. Women in Politics and Society

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pp. 183-196

On July 4, 1876, Denverites gathered to celebrate the nation’s centennial. On the banks of the South Platte they watched a parade of the Knights of Pythias, the Governor’s Guard, and the Odd Fellows astride their milk-white horses. They listened to toasts including one...

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12. A Diverse People

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pp. 197-222

Coloradans have always been a diverse people. Unfortunately, the labels scholars use to designate different groups fail to describe that diversity. Historians employ the term Native American as shorthand to write about numerous groups ranging from the Apaches to the Utes, each with...

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13. Scenery, Health, and Tourism

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pp. 223-242

From the day in early February 1807, when Zebulon Pike first saw the San Luis Valley, to the present, Colorado has been something special for the tourist. It has made a determined effort to attract vacationers and, with a barrage of publicity, has made the word Rockies mean...

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14. Denver and the Reform Crusade

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pp. 243-260

Ever since the gold rush, Denver has been Colorado’s gateway and major metropolis. With its location at the intersection of the plains and the mountains, its people and institutions have tied together the sections of the state and served as a point of contact between Colorado...

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Interlude: Coloradans in 1917

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pp. 261-265

A casual reader of the Denver Post or the Rocky Mountain News in early April 1917 might have assumed that Colorado had already gone to war against Germany—a week in advance of the rest of the nation. Governor Julius Gunter had appointed the nation’s first State War Council and called out thousands of...

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15. The 1920s

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pp. 267-282

Gangsters, bootleg whiskey, jazz, Model T Fords, and silent movies provide the stock images of the supposedly exuberant United States during the “roaring” years from the end of World War I in 1918 to the start of the Great Depression in late 1929. In fact, for much of the nation...

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16. The Great Depression

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pp. 283-297

In 1930 most Coloradans—or at least most of the official spokespersons—would have denied that their state was suffering from the Great Depression. “Look at the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News,” they might have told a visitor, “as fat as ever with advertising. Does...

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17. World War II

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pp. 299-313

The Japanese bombing of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, transformed Colorado more profoundly than any other single event except the 1859 gold rush. Before Pearl Harbor Colorado was a backwater state, a slow place with its glory years...

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18. Postwar Boom

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pp. 315-328

Boulder began celebrating victory over Japan in the predawn hours of August 14, 1945, shortly after unofficial news of the Japanese surrender flashed around the world. Gathering around a bonfire at Pearl and Broadway, University of Colorado students sang patriotic songs so...

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19. Postwar Politics and Other Diversions

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pp. 329-348

At the end of World War II, much of the power in Colorado still rested with its interlocked family dynasties. In his mid-nineties, Charles Boettcher no longer tended to the day-to-day doings of his sugar, cement, banking, and brokerage domain, but his son Claude was...

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20. Troubled Times

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pp. 349-368

Colorado’s future looked bright in the summer of 1963. Among the more than 5 million tourists visiting the state that year, a few caught sight of Debbie Reynolds and other Hollywood stars in Montrose where they were filming The Unsinkable Molly Brown, a movie based on...

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21. Environmental Challenges

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pp. 369-396

On May 13, 1970, the Rocky Mountain News proclaimed, “Jubilant Denver is winner in 1976 bid for winter Olympics.” Bankers, executives, and politicians celebrated the seemingly good news as “another jewel in Denver’s crown.” Some people, however, thought the jewel was a wart....

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22. Economic Peaks and Valleys

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pp. 397-420

Between the 1970s and the early 2000s, Colorado’s economy rose and fell like a roller coaster—soaring in the 1970s, plummeting in the 1980s, booming in the 1990s, faltering as the new millennium began, improving for a few years, and then sinking into a prolonged...

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23. Sports

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pp. 421-441

Living in a state that touts itself as the nation’s yearround playground has inspired Coloradans to focus on sports and recreation. By the early twenty-first century they could boast that Denver had more professional teams than any other city in the country. Baseball, basketball...

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24. Cultural and Political Wars

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pp. 443-460

Like other Americans, Coloradans have often fought their cultural wars in the political arena. Issues and the intensity of the battles have varied, but the political game has always been more than just a game. From the late 1960s into the early 2000s, passionate partisans...

Colorado Chronology

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pp. 461-466

Colorado Biographies

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pp. 467-482

Colorado Officials

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pp. 483-485

Colorado Population and Economic Statistics

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pp. 486-487

Colorado Facts and Symbols

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pp. 489-490


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pp. 491-520

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Further Reading

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pp. 521-550

...with emphasis on scholarly contributions. To save space we have apologize. Fortunately, the Internet gives readers a way to repair our oversights and to easily find additional material. The Center list of recent publications and book reviews on Colorado topics. accessible sources follows the list of traditional print sources....


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pp. 551-575

E-ISBN-13: 9781607322276
E-ISBN-10: 1607322277
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607322269
Print-ISBN-10: 1607322269

Page Count: 572
Publication Year: 2013