Colorado is a state located in the western United States, bordered by Wyoming to the north, Nebraska to the northeast, Kansas to the east, Oklahoma to the southeast, New Mexico to the south, Utah to the west and Arizona to the southwest at the Four Corners. It is characterized by its landscape of mountains, forests, high plains, plateaus, canyons, rivers and desert lands. Colorado is one of the mountainous states and is often considered part of the southwestern United States. Denver is the capital and most populated city of Colorado, as well as the center of the Front Range Urban Corridor.
Colorado Springs is the second most populated city. Residents of the state are referred to as Coloradans, although the old-fashioned Coloradoan language is occasionally used. Major parts of its economy include government and defense, mining, agriculture, tourism and other types of manufacturing. With rising temperatures and decreasing water availability, Colorado's agricultural, forestry and tourism economies are expected to be severely affected by climate change.
Most American colonists traveling west to Oregon country, new California gold deposits or new Mormon settlements in Salt Lake Valley state of Deseret avoided Southern Rocky Mountains and instead followed North Platte and Sweetwater rivers to South Pass in Wyoming - the lowest crossing of continental divide between Southern Rocky Mountains and Central Rocky Mountains. In 1849, Mormons of Salt Lake Valley organized extralegal State of Deseret claiming all Great Basin and all land drained by Green, Grand and Colorado rivers. U. S.
Federal Government flatly refused to recognize new Mormon government because it was theocratic and sanctioned plural marriage. Instead, Compromise of 1850 divided Mexican Cession and claims of Northwest Texas into new state and two new territories - State of California, Territory of New Mexico and Territory of Utah. On April 9th 1851 Mexican-American settlers from Taos area settled in village of San Luis then in territory of New Mexico which would later become Colorado's first permanent Euro-American settlement. Congress divided disorganized territory east of Continental Divide into two new organized territories - Territory of Kansas and Territory of Nebraska - and disorganized southern region known as Indian Territory.
Each new territory had to decide fate of slavery within its limits but this commitment only fueled animosity between factions in favor of free soil and in favor of slavery. Gold diggers organized Provisional Government of Jefferson Territory on August 24th 1859 but this new territory did not win approval from U. Congress embroiled in debate over slavery. Election of Abraham Lincoln as president on November 6th 1860 caused secession of nine Southern slave states and threat of civil war between states.
With goal of increasing political power of states in Union Congress dominated by Republican Party quickly admitted eastern part of Territory of Kansas to Union as Free State of Kansas on January 29th 1861 leaving western part of Territory of Kansas and its gold mining areas as disorganized territory. On April 12th 1861 South Carolina artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter to begin American Civil War. While many gold diggers were sympathetic to Confederacy vast majority remained fiercely loyal to Union cause. In midst and after Civil War many discouraged prospectors returned to their homes but few stayed and developed mines, mills, farms, ranches, roads and towns in Colorado Territory.
On September 14th 1864 James Huff discovered silver near Argentino Pass first of many silver deposits. In 1867 Union Pacific Railroad set its tracks westward to Weir now Julesburg in northeastern corner of Territory. Union Pacific joined Central Pacific Railroad at Promontory Summit Utah to form first transcontinental railroad while Denver Pacific Railroad arrived in Denver in June following year and Kansas Pacific arrived two months later forging second line that crossed continent. In 1872 rich silver veins were discovered in San Juan Mountains on Ute Indian Reservation in southwestern Colorado leading Ute being expelled from San Juan following year. Approximately 70% population resides along eastern edge Rocky Mountains in Front Range urban corridor between Cheyenne Wyoming and Pueblo Colorado. This region is partially protected from prevailing storms that arrive from Pacific Ocean region by high Rocky Mountains in central Colorado. The Front Range includes Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Loveland, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Greeley and other municipalities between them. On other side Rocky Mountains most important population centers in western Colorado (known as The Western Slope) are cities Grand Junction Durango Montrose. To west Great Plains Colorado rises eastern slope Rocky Mountains with most notable peaks being Longs Peak Mount Blue Sky Pikes Peak Spanish Peaks near Walsenburg in Southern Colorado. This area drains east southeast ultimately across Mississippi River or Rio Grande into Gulf Mexico. Much Alpine snow melts mid-August except for some snowy peaks few small glaciers. Colorado Mineral Belt which stretches from San Juan Mountains southwest Boulder Central City front mountain range contains most historic gold silver mining districts. Mount Elbert is highest peak Rocky Mountains while 30 highest major peaks North American Rocky Mountains are all within state. Continental divide Americas stretches along ridge Rocky Mountains with area Colorado west Great Plains known as High Plains considered part Midwest United States.