Saturday, July 31, 2010

On To a Higher State

Magnet # 306: Colorado Landscape

Material: Metal

Purchased By: Dad

Tomorrow, the state of Colorado marks the anniversary of its joining the Union on August 1, 1876. Considering that it gained its statehood exactly 100 years after the United States was created, it has come to be known as the Centennial State.

The first Europeans to make it to what would become Colorado were Spaniards in search of gold in the 1600's. They found nothing and established a settlement that would later fail. The French were the next to venture there, claiming areas east of Spanish claims. The United States was later able to obtain their holdings with the Louisiana Purchase. Zebulon Pike explored the area for the country and Pike's Peak was named in his honor, but he ran into trouble with the nearby Spanish and was taken by them all the way to Mexico before being released. When Mexico was able to win its independence from Spain, it took over that nation's holdings , only to loose it to the United States after the Mexican War. Even then, few came to the area until gold was discovered there in 1849. Before long, there was a full-scale gold rush in Pike's Peak. In 1861, the Territory of Colorado was established - it had been previously proposed as the Jefferson Territory, but that never came to be, as it ignored Indian claims in the area. President Andrew Johnson vetoed the territory's first bid for statehood, but his successor, Ulysses Grant was able to force statehood through a less enthusiastic Congress, making Colorado the 38th state.

I have set foot in the state of Colorado - literally. Yep, when my family was vacationing in Santa Fe, we drove north through the state of New Mexico all the way up past the border so I could hop out, set foot, and say I'd been to Colorado. It was the middle of nowhere, with just dirt and desert. Obviously, I wouldn't mind seeing more of the Centennial State, and there is certainly plenty to see. Once place I have wanted to see for quite some time which Colorado is a part of is the Four Corners. It's where the state converges with New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah and it's the largest meeting point of any states in the nation. When you're there, it's possible to arrange your body to be in four states at the same time - pretty cool. Plus, it's a pretty touristy place, so I might even be able to find magnets from all four states there, which would obviously make me pretty happy. Beyond that, this state is filled with all sorts of stunning outdoor venues. In the southern part, there's Mesa Verde National Park, where the Anasazi built intricate cliff dwellings about 700 years ago. They are some of the best preserved homes that the ancient cultures who once lived in the United States have left behind and they're supposed to be very impressive. Conveniently enough, it's located near the Four Corners. It's also close to Telluride, a city that dates back to the late 1800s and was once a boomtown for gold and silver miners. It was the first place Butch Cassidy was known to have robbed, but it later fell into decline. Luckily, it has been restored and is now home to a picturesque small town resort with snow-capped mountains in the distance. The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, which contains the tallest sand dunes on the continent, is also in the southern region. It contains a very wide variety of habitats, including tundra, grasslands, and wetlands. To the north, there's Glenwood Springs Hot Pool, the world's largest hot mineral pool. It's longer than three city blocks and is around 90 degrees all year, allowing its visitors a relaxing experience. And the northern part of the state is also home to perhaps its most beloved natural venue - the Rocky Mountain National Park. This area consists of sixty stunning peaks and has the highest average elevation of all of the national parks. In addition, there are all sorts of lakes and creeks for visitors to enjoy. It's also close to Estes Park, where the Stanley Hotel that inspired Stephen King's The Shining is located. With so many stunning natural areas, it's easy to understand why Colorado has some of the most active residents of any state in the country. But if visitors would like to check out more urban settings, it can also accommodate them with cities like Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder, all of which have plenty of parks and outdoor areas as well. Colorado is a majestic state, filled with seemingly endless natural areas of mountains, plains, mesas, and canyons and one day, I'd like to check out the high life there for myself.

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