Named after the Colorado River, the Territory of Colorado was organized on February 28, 1861, and on August 1, 1876, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed Proclamation 230 admitting Colorado to the Union as the 38th state. Currently, Colorado is the 8th largest state in terms of land mass.
Located in the western United States covering most of the southern Rocky Mountains and the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. Colorado is bordered by Wyoming to the north, Nebraska to the northeast, Kansas to the east, Oklahoma to the southeast, New Mexico to the south, Utah to the west, and touches Arizona to the southwest at the Four Corners. Known for its vivid landscape of mountains, forests, high plains, mesas, canyons, plateaus, rivers and desert lands; Colorado is part of the western and southwestern United States, and is one of the Mountain States. Denver is both the capital and most populous city of Colorado. Residents of the state are known as Coloradans, although the antiquated term “Coloradoan” is occasionally used.
Colorado is nicknamed “The Centennial State” because it became a state one century after the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence. It is also well-known by this nickname “Colorful Colorado”. The state tree is the Colorado Blue Spruce, the state bird is the Lark Bunting and the state flower is the White and Lavender Columbine. The state motto is ‘Nothing without the Deity’ (Latin: Nil sine Numine).
Extensive public transportation bus services are offered both intra-city and inter-city, including the Denver metro area’s extensive RTD services. The Regional Transportation District (RTD) operates the popular RTD Bus & Rail transit system in the Denver Metropolitan Area. As of January 2013 the RTD rail system had 170 light-rail vehicles, serving 47 miles (76 km) of track.
Amtrak operates two passenger rail lines in Colorado, the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief. Colorado’s contribution to world railroad history was forged principally by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad which began in 1870 and wrote the book on mountain railroading. In 1988 the “Rio Grande” acquired, but was merged into, the Southern Pacific Railroad by their joint owner Philip Anschutz. On September 11, 1996, Anschutz sold the combined company to the Union Pacific Railroad, creating the largest railroad network in the United States. The Anschutz sale was partly in response to the earlier merger of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe which formed the large Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), Union Pacific’s principal competitor in western U.S. railroading. Both Union Pacific and BNSF have extensive freight operations in Colorado.
Colorado’s freight railroad network consists of 2,688 miles of Class I trackage. It is integral to the U.S. economy, being a critical artery for the movement of energy, agriculture, mining, and industrial commodities as well as general freight and manufactured products between the East and Midwest and the Pacific coast states.
Denver International Airport (DIA) is the 5th busiest domestic U.S. airport and 20th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic. DIA handles by far the largest volume of commercial air traffic in Colorado, and is the busiest U.S. hub airport between Chicago and the Pacific coast, making Denver the most important airport for connecting passenger traffic in the western United States.
Colorado’s primary mode of transportation is its highway system. Interstate 25 (I-25) is the primary north–south highway in the state, connecting Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver, and Fort Collins, and extending north to Wyoming and south to New Mexico. I-70 is the primary east–west corridor. It connects Grand Junction and the mountain communities with Denver, and enters Utah and Kansas. The state is home to a network of US and Colorado highways that provide access to all principal areas of the state. Many smaller communities are only connected to this network via county roads.