The more you delve into history, the more odd facts you’ll find. We picked a few peculiarly named Colorado towns and dug deep to figure out why they’re each called what they are. From one named after their strict bathing laws to another that’s a warning to Kansas-bound travelers, you’re sure to find the origins of these names quite interesting. Enjoy!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an April Fool’s Day piece.
1. Ouray, Colorado
Long ago, members of an exploration party had an argument about how to reach Telluride. After some debate, they headed down a certain path, even though all party members weren’t in agreeance. Eventually, they got stuck in a massive box canyon with walls too high for them to pass. Angry they weren’t going to meet their friends in Telluride on time and unable to remember who picked the path in the first place, they named the town “Your Way”, as no one was willing to take the blame for the mistake. Over decades, this name slowly transformed into Ouray.
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2. Colorado Springs, Colorado
What Detroit is to the car industry, Colorado Springs is to the mattress industry. While many people assume that the second largest city in the state derived its name from nearby hot springs, it actually pays homage to the many mattress spring manufacturers that helped to build this city during its early days.
3. Creede, Colorado
Once called Kit’s Ranch, the name of this town was changed to Creede during the late 1990s following the release of a rock album called “Human Clay” from a band of the same namesake, Creed. Upon announcing this change, the mayor made a statement that explained his thought process behind the controversial switch – “I want to make sure that all citizens of Creede, Colorado will forever have a reminder to keep their arms wide open to newcomers from far and wide.”
4. Rifle, Colorado
Yes, this town is named for an actual rifle…as in a gun. During the Civil War, Union troops organized an unprecedented maneuver that involved flanking the Confederate army via a several thousand mile trek through the Rockies. Because the journey was so long, they were forced to carry only a rifle…literally. Rifle, Colorado is where they gave up on their journey, opting to become a group of mountain naturalists instead.
5. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
This one is more obvious than you might think. This town was actually discovered by tourists traveling through the mountains by steamboat. When their steamboat started to struggle with the steep mountain climbs, they stopped in a city that now bears the name of the mode of transportation that brought them there.
6. Royal Gorge
Alright, so this one isn’t a town, but the name still has an interesting story. The Royal Gorge name is steeped in rich history, for this is where the first King of Colorado, Boopa de Bopo, planted his stake. In fact, the Royal Gorge Bridge is all that remains from the massive 3,000 room palace that once towered over Cañon City. It is suspected that the gorge was used as a line of defense from potential invaders that made their way from Kansas during the infamous Dust Bowl years. Eventually the King was overthrown and tossed in Canõn City’s prison where his carefully preserved remains can still be seen today.
MORE ABOUT: America’s Highest Bridge!
7. Last Chance, Colorado
The Eastern Plains town of Last Chance, Colorado has the snarkiest name of them all, paying tribute to the fact that this is one of the last chances for travelers headed east to change their mind and not go to Kansas.
8. Littleton, Colorado
Believe it or not, Littleton, shortened from its original name, “Little Town”, once had an ordinance that stipulated that no “floor” of a building could be more than 6 feet tall. As a result, every structure was roughly half the size of what it might be elsewhere. The law was created to avoid construction from blocking the views. This rule was later changed after a family known only by the name “Lincoln” moved into the area. Averaging a lofty height of 6’ 9” across their 13 family members (three of whom were on the city council), this law was quickly ruled impractical.
9. Parachute, Colorado
This town gets its name from an innovative defense system built beneath the city. If things get rough in this area, a massive parachute expands above the main blocks, designed to catch the wind and carry citizens and all of their belongings to safety. While this escape pod of sorts has been tested at a small scale, the Town of Parachute hasn’t had to use the full system yet.
10. Hygiene, Colorado
This small unincorporated community in Boulder County is notorious for their very strict bathing laws. They actually have an entire division of their police force dedicated to keeping their streets stink-free. Using an olfactory tool designed in the late 80s, the officers are able to determine whether or not someone’s body odor passes the “stink threshold”. If it does, the wrongdoer is given a loofah and a bar of soap before being sent to one of the town’s 19 public shower facilities.
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If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is an April Fool’s Day post. None of the previously stated meanings behind Colorado town names are actually true to the best of our knowledge. Happy Holidays 🙂
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