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10 Colorado History Must Sees!

By Jennifer Biyinzika

Pictured: : Animas Forks Shack, 2009. Image courtesy of Adam Baker

You can’t be a Coloradoan and not explore a few historical sites, so here’s ten places to put on your road trip map this summer:

1. Forney Transportation Museum in Denver

Complete with Amelia Earhart’s “Gold Bug”, this place will spark the imagination of anyone – car buff or not. It began with one 1921 Kissel and now houses 800 vehicles and artifacts, telling the story of travel through the ages. As a non-profit dedicated to preserving history, tickets are affordable.

2. Loveland Museum

Everyone who passes through jokes about the name, but few know the tale behind it. This place was once destined to be called New St. Louis until William A.H. Loveland rolled into town. Did you know the post office became a destination to send Valentine’s Day cards, just so it could be postmarked with “Loveland” before going on to one’s sweetheart? How about the legacy of the cherry tree?

It's free of charge to discover why this not-so-little town is proud of its Colorado roots.

3. The Old Sugar Beet factory

After hitting the Loveland museum and learning all about the great molasses spill of 1990, you may take a drive past the old sugar beet factory – still standing, but in definite disrepair. Use your imagination, and you may be able to see its glory days. The factory’s ruins are located at 1149 Madison Ave. in Loveland.

4. Ghost Town of Animas Forks near Silverton

Enter at your own risk. Although eight hours from Fort Collins, everyone needs to walk through an abandoned ghost town once in their lives. Very little preservation, there are a few signs describing the history of the old mining town and what a few of the buildings are, but no supervision should you decide to wander these two-hundred-year-old buildings.

5. The State Capitol

Offering multiple free daily tours, limited to 15 people (first come, first served), the mile-high capital building is famous for it’s golden dome. Pictures of people and events from Colorado and American history, sometimes depicted in stained glass, cover the walls, and much of the precious stone used to decorate the structure is hewed straight from Colorado Rock.

6. The Molly Brown Museum

Known as the “Unsinkable Molly Brown”, she was Colorado’s most famous and possible most affluent Titanic survivor. After the trip, she became dedicated to helping the survivors of the ship, and then went on to campaign for women’s rights.

After her death, her home in Denver was converted into a museum. It now serves as a eminder of what one life with a passion can accomplish.

7. Manitou Cliff Dwellings

Centuries ago the Puebloan tribe seemed to have vanished, leaving behind several massive living structures. The Manitou Cliff Dwellings were part of one of them.

In order to protect them from artifact scavengers, they were moved from the southwest corner of Colorado from 1904-1907. Quite a tricky business, but now they stand exactly as they were.

Visitors are allowed to wander through them and explore for themselves, though climbing on the rocks is no longer allowed.

Adjacent to the ruins is a museum devoted to retelling the story of what everyday life was once like for the Puebloans and honoring those who claim to share their heritage.

8. Lone Tree School House

One of Colorado’s few remaining one-room schoolhouses, this structure was built in 1893 and now rests in the center of North Lake park in Loveland.

Every summer it hosts summer day camps for school children where they make corn husk dolls, churn their own butter, and other activities from the pioneer days.

9. POW Camp on Hwy 34

While all that’s left is a couple pillars as monuments, this 320 acre prisoner of war camp will never be forgotten. Three thousand Germans and Austrians were held in Colorado after being captured by the Allied Troops in Normandy and North Africa. For three years, they worked the farms out here, and were finally sent home after the war.

To pay respects, one simply follow Hwy 34 towards Greeley, takes the business exit and turn onto the 257 spur. It’ll be immediately on the right.

10. The Denver Mint

One of only five currency printing centers in America, the Denver Mint is one of the oldest government agencies. They top the list of fascinating historical places to visit in Colorado, but are at the end of this list because their tours are not yet up and running after COVID-19.

Hopefully soon, the chance to watch cash be made and receive one’s very own freshly-minted penny will be given. Until then, the virtual tour and online gift shop are available on the website.

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