Denver was not always Colorado’s capital

DENVER (KDVR) — It’s hard to imagine any city besides Denver being the capital of Colorado, but that was the case once upon a time.

In fact, by the time Colorado was annexed in 1876 and became a state, three cities had already been the capital.

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Colorado has had 3 capital cities

Before the Centennial State was officially a state, it was a territory. In February 1861, the Colorado Organic Act was passed, which created the Colorado Territory.

According to the state, the first Territorial Legislative Assembly met in Denver in September 1861 to debate where the capital city should be.

How did Denver get its name?

The decision was made to put it in Colorado City, which is now a neighborhood of Colorado Springs.

That didn’t last too long, however, as the capital was moved to Golden in 1862. It stayed that way until Denver claimed the distinction in 1867 and kept it until — and after — the territory became a state in 1876.

In total, three cities held the title of the territory capital before Colorado became a state in 1876:

  • Colorado City – 1861-1862

  • Golden City – 1862 to 1867

  • Denver – 1867 to statehood in 1876

After Colorado became a state in 1876, Denver was designated as its temporary capital in the Colorado Constitution. It was also stipulated in the constitution that a vote would be held in 1881 to settle where the permanent capital would be.

According to the History of Denver, a book published in 1901 and written by Jerome Smiley, the results were not close: Denver received 30,248 votes, or around two-thirds of the overall vote, while Pueblo, the city with the second-highest number of votes, received 6,047.

Denver has remained the seat of government ever since.

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The only way that this could change in the future is if two-thirds of people vote during a general election to move it or if an emergency makes it impossible for Denver to keep being the home of the state government and general assembly, at least temporarily.

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