Civilizing Colorado

tents were the beginning of civilizing Colorado in the wilderness, photo courtesy of Time Life Books


Early pioneers started civilizing the new territory by building towns.  They started with tents, log or sod huts and expanded from there.


Gold was the catalyst for bringing many settlers to the Colorado territory. 

Behind them, merchants, preachers, school teachers and many more set up to accommodate the homesteading and building in the new state.

A typical new town or village in the mid 1800’s, would have the basic newcomers to start building their business. 

For example, one of the first buildings was a church, followed by a saloon.



church and saloon built in a new town photos courtesy of Time Life Books


Then a makeshift school would be built, dry goods store, barber shop, blacksmith, dressmaker, drug store, bank, etc. would open.

school and merchants along main street photos courtesy of Time Life Books


You can see the way a tent city erupted into a full blown town.  If a town wasn’t near a forest and lumber wasn’t available, prefab buildings could be bought from back east suppliers.

These buildings are already pre-cut and ready to be put together.  Many floor plans were available from a one room building, to a store, railroad depot or mansion.

prefab building plans courtesy of Time Life Books


As the new town arose from the wilderness, amenities were added for entertainment.  A music hall or opera house was built.  Artists from back east and the mid west would travel to the new frontier to add some culture that new transplants craved.

Singers, comedians, circuses, actors, and many more vied for the privilege of playing in the cultural establishments of the new west.

music hall photo courtesy of Time Life Books


When towns became established, such as Denver, citizens banded together to bring more refinement into their lives.

Denver, Colorado 1895 photo courtesy of Time Life Books


Elitch Zoological Gardens was constructed by integrating various exotic plants and animals into the venue for the public entertainment. 

Today, Elitch Gardens is an amusement and water park with wild rides and a place to cool off during summer months for families and visitors.

Elitch's Zoological Gardens poster courtesy of Time Life Books


However, many of the Colorado towns built in the 1800’s have been remodeled to suit the progress of the times.  Others, in different parts of the state, retain their architecture and are historic buildings and towns.



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