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10 odd and amazing Colorado facts that many don't know about

Posted: 3:31 PM, Dec 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-02 17:31:15-05
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DENVER — It’s a well-known fact that Colorado is one of the best states in the country! But there are other lesser known facts about The Centennial State that many might not know about.

1. Denver is the only city to turn down an Olympic bid
The Mile High City was awarded the 1976 Winter Games in May 1970 by the International Olympic Committee. Denver had edged out cities like Vancouver in its bid. But after a series of blunderous plans and unrealistic cost expectations, the tide of public opinion shifted, and Denver actually gave the Olympics back after voters rejected a bond issue that would have helped fund the games. It ended up being held in Innsbrook, Austria.

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1970 photo caption: Members of the Denver Olympic Committee left for Amsterdam Monday to make Denver's showdown pitch for the 1976 Winter Olympic Games. Those who boarded King Resources plane at Stapleton were, left to right, Richard Davis, Gerald F. Groswold, Thomas Hildt, Jr., Mrs. Sidney Robbins, Brigitte Bastian, Norman Brown, Willy Schaefler and Bill Kostka, Jr. Plane left at 4 p.m.
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1972 photo caption: Denver's crusade to keep the 1976 Winter Olympics is being advertised on a billboard which the city's zoning administration feels is flatly illegal. The advertisement urges voters to defeat two initiated amendments that would cut off funds for the games. Formerly the illegal sign displayed an ad for Johnny Dee, a candidate for district attorney. The billboard, owned by the Eller Outdoor Advertising Co., is at Speer Boulevard and W. 13th Avenue. City officials say Eller violated the law in two ways when it erected the sign last spring—by not obtaining a building permit and by ignoring Denver's new sign code which prohibits the construction of new billboards. Litigation against the firm is still pending in Denver County Court.

2. Colorado is the birthplace of the cheeseburger
Denver restaurant owner Louis Ballast claimed to have invented the cheeseburger in 1935. Ballast owned the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In, located at 2776 North Speer Boulevard. A bronze plaque now sits on the former site of the restaurant and reads: "ON THIS SITE IN 1935 LOUIS E. BALLAST CREATED THE CHEESEBURGER. HIS RESTAURANT, THE HUMPTY DUMPTY BARREL DRIVE-IN, WAS COLORADO'S FIRST DRIVE-IN AND WAS COMMONLY KNOWN AS THE BARREL. THE CHEESEBURGER TRADEMARK WAS REGISTERED BY MR. BALLAST ON MARCH 5, 1935. DEDICATED MARCH 5, 1987."

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Louis Ballast, owner of the Humpty Dumpty Barrel Drive Inn in Denver, Colorado, poses in front of his restaurant during the 1940s with "curb girls." Ballast acquired a trademark for "The Cheeseburger" on March 5, 1935.

3. Denver’s first drive-by shooting happened in 1877
Cort Thompson was shot from another carriage after a brawl at the Denver Park bar.

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(1900 photo) Outdoor portrait of a man in a horse drawn carriage on Alameda Avenue, in Denver, Colorado; the South Platte River bridge is in the background.

4. The Grand Mesa on the Western Slope is the world’s largest flat-topped mountain
The Grand Mesa is located east of Grand Junction and has an area of about 500 square miles. Stretching for nearly 40 miles, the mesa is home to over 300 lakes.

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5. More than 1/3 of Colorado is owned by the federal government
According to the Colorado State Forest Service, "Nearly 68 percent of Colorado’s forests are in federal ownership; the primary land manager is the U.S. Forest Service with 47 percent or 11.3 million acres. Nearly three-quarters of the state’s high-elevation species such as spruce-fir, lodgepole pine and aspen are located on USFS lands. The Bureau of Land Management oversees an additional 17 percent or 4.2 million acres, primarily in the state’s lower elevation piñon-juniper and oak shrubland forests. The National Park Service has responsibility for 380,925 acres or 2 percent of Colorado’s forests; the majority of these lands are within the borders of Rocky Mountain National Park."

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6. Wazee Street between 15th and 17th was once Denver’s Chinatown
According to the Encylopedia of the Great Plains, Chinese laborers were drawn to Denver and made Wazee Street (also called "Hop Alley") in lower downtown their favorite haunt. The area started to decline after series of riots in the 1880s.

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1929 photo caption: View of Ching Chung and Company Chinese store at 2019 either Wazee or Blake Street in Denver, Colorado. Chinese characters are on a nearby sign.
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1929 photo caption: Men walk on Hop Alley (between Wazee and Blake Streets) in Denver, Colorado. Another group of men sit near an automobile.

7. Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the country
At 10,152 feet, the Lake County town of around 3,000 people is the highest incorporated city in North America. Leadville was orginally called Silver City and was the first proposed capital of Colorado.

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(1937 photo) This view looking south on snowpacked Harrison Avenue, the main street in Leadville, Colorado's business district, includes several landmark buildings. The Hotel Vendome, the Delaware Hotel, the old Lake County Courthouse, and the American National Bank are all historical landmarks. Business signs "The Herald Democrat" and "Frank Zaitz" are on one story commercial buildings. Automobiles and pickup trucks are parked diagonally. Pedestrians walk at the sides of the streets and streetlights hang from wires across the middle of the street.

8. Denver has one of the largest park systems in the country
The city's park system consists of more than 14,000 acres of parkland across four counties outside of Denver city limits, 22 accessible parks and 24 conservation areas. The system was created in 1910. Congress gave Denver approval in 1914 to purchase federal lands outside its city limits.

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Summit Lake Park near Mount Evans

9. The automobile boot was first used in Denver in 1955
Colorado resident Frank Marugg invented a wheel clamp, later known as the Denver Boot, in the 1940s and sold them in the 1950s to the Denver Police Department, which was the first law enforcement agency to use a car boot.

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(1948 photo) Rooftop view of Broadway at 1st (First) Avenue in Denver, Colorado. Automobiles and streetcars are on the street. Signs on buildings read: "[W]illiams Stores Stetson Hat" "Walco's Sport Spot" "Prescriptions" "Taylors" "Bernard's Proven Better Buys Men's & Boy's WEar" "Vogue Portraits" "The Skylark" "Rex Market" "Friends Electrical Appliances" "Ervington Floral Shop" "Acme Liquor Store" "Falby Paint Glass Hardware" "Crown Furniture" "Murphy Fine Food" and "Miller's.

10. Denver’s first recorded car accident happened in 1900
On November 29, 1900, Daniel Spencer was ejected from a car of his own design.

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(1900 photo) View of the intersection of Stout and 16th (Sixteenth) Streets, in downtown Denver, Colorado; shows automobile and pedestrian traffic, the Barth Block, the First National Bank Building, and a banner: "The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Broadway Theater.