The first American explorers, Louis and Clark, opened a pathway to Colorado and the territories beyond all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Thomas Jefferson sent them to find a fast route to the Pacific after the Louisiana Purchase was bought from the French.
President Jefferson was fascinated by the tales from the French about the majestic mountains, abundant wildlife and friendly natives that inhabited the territory.
After Louis and Clark, he sent a fellow named Zebulon Pike out to explore the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red Rivers.
Mr. Pike is most famous for discovering the mountain that would bear his name, Pikes Peak.
In 1820, Stephen Long was sent to the new Colorado territory to find more information from Pike's results.
Long explored the area during the summer, and following the Platte River, could cover about 20 miles a day.
His fact finding mission was to chart the area that would be of use to later expeditions.
During their trek, the Long's group spotted the "Two-ears Peak", which if you have visited Colorado, is known as "Long's Peak", named after Stephen Long.
Suddenly the Colorado territory was teaming with Americans.
After Mr. Long's expedition came Colonel Henry Dodge in 1835 and then Colonel Stephen Kearney in 1845.
Col. Kearney followed Long's route and was noted for befriending the Indians of the area.
John C. Fremont spent the most time in Colorado. He visited Fort St. Vrain on the South Platte River, explored the North, Middle and South Parks of the territory and followed the Arkansas River to Leadville.
During the long winter, Fremont's expedition was hit by a raging blizzard in the mountains. All of his pack mules froze to death and many of his men died.
Fremont's last trip to Colorado was in 1853. He was hired to map out the best route for a railroad.
During that year, Captain John Gunnison was also hired by the railroad to find a suitable route.
His exploration sent him over the Continental Divide and into the Western Slope of the state.
He followed a river into Utah were he was killed by Indians. The river and town of Gunnison were named for him.
You can see that in just a few years, the territory of Colorado was bursting with activity.
Reading about these explorers adventures is truly exciting. Just imagine the hardships they faced in an unknown land without any signs to guide them.
When their exploits were published, it threw the adventurous new Americans of the east into overdrive and many headed west.
They thought they were heading for an easy and exciting new life. Little did they know.