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Historical Facts About Denver
The first collection of white men’s dwellings in all this “Colorado region” was at “Montana City,” which was established in the summer of 1858 in that part of the city bounded by West Evans, South Tremont and West Iliff streets and the Platte River, but abandoned upon the establishment of Auraria and Denver in the fall of the same year.
The first white man’s house in what is now the City and County of Denver was probably at Montana City, but the first permanent residence in the settlement at the junction of Cherry Creek and the Platte River, from which Denver really grew, was the double cabin erected in 1858 by a trapper named John S. Smith and the Russell boys, who spent the winter in it.
The first attempt at the establishment of a town site was on September 24, 1858, when the town of
St. Charles, in “Arapahoe county, Kansas territory,” was established on the east bank of Cherry Creek, now known as East Denver. On Nov. 1 of the same year Auraria City was founded on the west bank of Cherry Creek, with ostensibly 100 incorporators. Nov. 17, St. Charles having been abandoned, the site was taken possession of by General William Larimer and his party of forty-one, who organized the Denver Town Company, and changed the name to Denver after General W. Denver, then governor of Kansas territory.
A town named “Highland” was also established on the west bank of the Platte, and the three “cities” were consolidated as the “City of Denver, Auraria and Highland,” on Dec. 19, 1859, by an act of the “Territory of Jefferson,” acquiesced in by the people of all three “cities,” a community of interest having been doubtless established by the building of a bridge across Cherry Creek at. Larimer street, the first “public improvement” in Denver.
The first city election was held Dec. 19, 1859, John C. Moore being elected mayor. A characteristically original attempt was made the same year to organize the “Territory of Jefferson,” and two sessions of its legislature were actually held, but on Feb. 28, 1861, the Territory of Colorado was organized, with William Gilpin as its first governor, the officers of the “Territory of Jefferson” gracefully surrendering to the inevitable. — Reprint from Denver Municipal Facts, Volume 4 Number 31, 1912 August 3, page 14.
Dedication of Montana City marker
J. J. Reithman and Frank Byers flank a plaque commemorating Montana City, Colorado. The brass letters read: “To perpetuate the memory of the founding of Montana City September 1858 the first organized town in the region and the beginning of Denver. This monument erected by the Denver Chapter Sons of the American Revolution 1924.” A United States flag, another flag, and women are in the background. Photo, Denver Public Library, Western History Department.
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