Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

25 Lofty Facts About Colorado

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

Even if you’ve never visited, you might know a few things about Colorado: maybe that it was the 38th territory to gain statehood, that it inspired the timeless John Denver tune “Rocky Mountain High” (now one of two official state songs), or that it’s widely accepted as our nation’s reigning pot capital.

There’s a lot more to the Centennial State than its high peaks, though. As the nation’s eighth-largest state (despite being only the 22nd most populous), Colorado represents a huge slice of U.S. and North American history—one that’s brimming with dino discoveries, rock 'n’ roll debuts, renowned Native heritage, and even a headless chicken.

1. The mile-high metropolitan center of Colorado isn’t just putting on high-altitude airs with its nickname. Stand on the 13th step leading up to the state capital building in Denver and you’ll know what being exactly one mile above sea level feels like.

2. While you're feeling high-up at the state capital building, check out the building's interior, much of which is decked out in beautiful Colorado Rose Onyx—actually, in all of it that exists, as far as we know.

3. Colorado’s achievements for height don’t begin and end in Denver—not by a mile. The state also boasts the U.S.’s highest sand dunes, its highest paved road, the contiguous United States' highest mountain peaks (with several dozen clearing the 14,000-foot mark), its highest alligator park, and its highest auto tunnel, among many other things. The long list isn’t too surprising, perhaps, given that Colorado sports 75% of all U.S. terrain that’s 10,000 feet above sea level or higher.

4. But it also holds a record for depth. As Guinness World Records reported, the “mother spring” in the spa community of Pagosa Springs—just one of many in a vast developed network—is a lovely but unassuming pool “35 feet across with an average depth of 20-30 ft [with] a hole in the bottom of two feet in diameter.”

After Guinness reps sent a 1002-foot plumb line down that hole, however, they “watched and waited in anticipation as the line went down … and down … and down,” until, maybe ten minutes later, “the line ran out without hitting any obstacles, and a new Guinness World Records achievement was verified.” For all we know, then, that mother spring is bottomless.

5. Famous for their resourcefulness and determination, Coloradans have secured a healthy number of world records for their state, including one for a 124-dB bark that took a total of 76 canine volunteers. Residents have also achieved recognition for the highest-ever score in the game “Oil Tycoon” (by an enormous margin), the largest assembled group of persons in gorilla costumes, the world’s most environmentally friendly bomb-detector, and more.

6. In 1970, the International Olympics Committee awarded Denver the honor and undertaking of hosting the 1976 Winter Olympics, something that the state had lobbied hard for alongside other domestic and international locations. Come 1972, though, state residents had the opportunity to vote on whether or not they’d allow the state to take on this very costly and possibly environmentally damaging task; almost 60% of voters decided the venture wasn’t worth it, making Colorado the only state to ever turn down the opportunity.

7. The separate indigenous groups that constitute the nomadic Ute tribe are famous for the sophisticated horsemanship they developed hundreds of years ago. In Colorado’s rich, vast, and valley-filled terrain, this allowed a significant advantage for both hunting and fighting; they were accomplished riders before many of their original and European-émigré neighbors.

8. As European settlers encroached increasingly on Ute territory in Colorado, the tribe's different groups attempted to discourage the new agriculture developments (which displaced grazing lands for their horses) and government surveyors however they could; sometimes, the struggles ended in violence.

After the U.S. government finally suppressed the so-called Ute uprising with a larger presence of soldiers, Chief Ouray and his second wife, Chipeta, traveled to Washington D.C., where he spoke before Congress on behalf of his people and to explain the situation in his homeland. Ouray signed a treaty with government officials before returning home, but, very sadly, it did not allow Ute tribe-members to remain in Colorado as they wanted; instead, they were displaced to Utah reservations en masse.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

9. As Matthew McConaughey once observed, the "man who invented the hamburger was smart," but the "man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius." Several persons from various states have claimed the latter honor, but one of the top contenders of record is Louis Ballast of Denver, who began selling them in 1935 "at the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In near Federal and Speer boulevards" in a restaurant often "referred to as The Barrel because it looked like one." Ballast reportedly "first tried Hershey bars and peanut butter as burger toppings, but neither impressed the customers," according to the Denver Post.

10. Infamous horror actor Lon Chaney, Sr., a.k.a. the "Man With a Thousand Faces," was born in Colorado Springs in 1883; just 70 years later, comedian Tim Allen came into the world in Denver. Which career best reflects the spirit of the Centennial State? Hard to say.

Getty Images // Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

11. M. P. Felch discovered the first known remains of a Stegosaurus hidden in Colorado's mountainous terrain in 1876, and the state also gave us the most complete Stegosaurus skeleton even found—nicknamed "Spike"—in 1992.

12. While all dinos do not get equal press, former residents of Colorado (based on fossil finds) include species such as Allosaurus, Amphicoelias, Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Camarasaurus,  Ceratosaurus, Cionodon, Denversaurus, Diplodocus, Dryosaurus, Epanterias, Haplocanthosaurus, Marshosaurus, Nanosaurus, Ornithomimus, Othnielia, Polyonax, Supersaurus, Torvosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Ultrasauros.

13. Led Zeppelin made their American debut in front of Colorado rock fans. According to promoter Barry Fey, organizers weren't sure how this British band—then relatively unknown in the U.S.—would play to crowds at Auditorium Arena in Denver on December 26, 1968. Nevertheless, it went off without a hitch; Fey recalled that, after the band's intro of, “Ladies and gentleman, please welcome, direct from England for their North America debut, Led Zeppelin!”:

There was a smattering of polite applause. Then, Robert Plant let it rip and everybody in the audience was stunned. Frankly, I don’t know how [the next band, Spirit] went on after that. You didn’t have to be a genius to know Zeppelin was going to be a smash. Oh, my God. People were going crazy!

14. Setting aside the Great Diamond Hoax of 1872, Colorado has produced plenty of real, gem-quality and industrial-quality diamonds in its day, many near "Diamond Peak."

15. It was also the site of a huge silver boom. After the precious metal was discovered near Leadville in 1879, prospectors rushed the region hoping to find their own fortunes. Many did, too: by the time the price of silver collapsed in the early 1890s, over $80 million worth of silver had been dug up.

16. As a result of these booms, Colorado has almost as many "dead" towns as live ones. In addition to the discovery of silver and diamonds, Colorado also drew waves of settlers and fortune-seekers throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Settlements and trading posts sprang up to support gold miners, fur trappers, and various other entrepreneurial types; by the time the dust had mostly settled in the mid-20th century, however, Coloradans found themselves left with as many as 500 ghost settlements

Wikimedia Commons // CC 2.0

17. According to some, access to the massive amount of oil shale under Colorado and Utah's Rocky Mountains could make the U.S. one of the top two oil-producers in the world. Understandably, though, Coloradans and environmentalists around the country still have some concerns.

18. Marijuana was legalized there in 2014, but if pot's not your thing, the state is also a beer-drinker's paradise. At last count, the state housed 289 different breweries, the third-highest number in the country. It also hosts the annual Great American Beer Festival, a three-day event in which hundreds of beer experts and thousands of fans flock to Denver from around the world in shared appreciation of real liquid gold: beer. 

19. Daveco Liquors in Thornton, Colorado, prides itself on being the "World's Largest Liquor Store." The shop covers an area of 100,073.1 square feet (almost 2.3 acres). So, if you're the indecisive type, maybe skip a visit to Daveco before your next Colorado barbeque.

20. Mike the Headless Wonder Chicken was born in the state … and lost his head there, too. Also known as Miracle Mike, this special chicken met his end in 1945 when Fruita, CO farmer Lloyd Olsen set out to kill the bird for his and his wife's evening meal. When Olsen chopped off Mike's head, though (which he later saved as proof), he missed Mike's jugular vein and left one ear and most of Mike's brain stem intact. From then on, the chicken was (mostly) able to function as his kind usually do.

Over the next 18 months, Miracle Mike—who was fed through the throat with a dropper by the Olsens and his manager—toured the nation, earning a quarter per viewer for his owners and even putting on several pounds post-decapitation. Sadly, Mike finally choked to death in a hotel room one night, but he otherwise spent the last, fame-filled period of his life as a "robust chicken—a fine specimen of a chicken except for not having a head," according to Olsen. 

21. Wellesley professor Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write “America the Beautiful,” a poem that would evolve into the famous tune, while “[celebrating] the close of the session by a merry expedition to the top of Pike’s Peak” in 1893. They made the ascent by prairie wagon. Moved by “the sea-like expanse of fertile country ... under those ample skies,” she said, “the opening lines of the hymn floated into [her] mind.” 

22. San Francisco's Lombard Street may be extra-twisty, but it's small potatoes (curly fries?) compared to the 26.5-mile stretch of Denver's Colfax Avenue, the longest continuous street in America

23. With its rich history of horsemanship, it's no surprise that Colorado held the first-ever rodeo on record in Deer Trail on the Fourth of July, 1869, or that the state continues to host the most rodeo events per year in the country.

24. Would-be cowboys better be sober. In this state, riding a horse while intoxicated is considered a traffic offense (not to mention dangerous, and pretty rude to the horse).

25. Coloradans take the treatment of the environment seriously too. In Colorado, it is reportedly unlawful for any person to "willfully mar, mutilate, deface, disfigure, or injure beyond normal use any rocks, trees, shrubbery, wild flowers, or other features of the natural environment in recreation areas of the state." All things considered, it seems like a pretty reasonable request (as does the bylaw that restricts llamas from being grazed in public areas).

Dan Kitwood, Getty Images
25 Royals in the Line of Succession to the British Throne
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

Between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcoming their third child on April 23, 2018 and Prince Harry's upcoming marriage to Suits star Meghan Markle in May, the line of succession to the British throne has become a topic of interest all over the world. And the truth is, it’s complicated. Though Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 92 years old on April 21, shows no signs of slowing down, here are the royals who could one day take her place on the throne—in one very specific order.


Chris Jackson/Getty Images

As a direct result of his mother being the world's longest-reigning monarch, Prince Charles—the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip—is the longest serving heir to the throne; he became heir apparent in 1952, when his mother ascended to the throne.


Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool/Getty Images

At 35 years old, odds are good that Prince William, Duke of Cambridge—the eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana—will ascend to the throne at some point in his lifetime.



On July 22, 2013, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their first child, Prince George of Cambridge, who jumped the line to step ahead of his uncle, Prince Harry, to become third in the line of succession.


Chris Jackson/Getty Images

On May 2, 2015, William and Catherine added another member to their growing brood: a daughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Though her parents just welcomed a bouncing baby boy, she will maintain the fourth-in-line position because of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which went into effect just a few weeks before her arrival, and removed a long-held rule which stated that any male sibling (regardless of birth order) would automatically move ahead of her.


 Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge depart the Lindo Wing with their newborn son at St Mary's Hospital on April 23, 2018 in London, England
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

On April 23, 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their third child—a son, whose name has yet to be announced, but who has already pushed his uncle, Prince Harry, out of the fifth position in line to the throne.


Chris Jackson/Getty Images

As the second-born son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Harry's place in the line is a regularly changing one. It changed earlier this week, when his brother William's third child arrived, and could change again if and when their family expands.


Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Prince Andrew is a perfect example of life before the Succession to the Crown Act 2013: Though he’s the second-born son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, he’s actually their third child (Princess Anne came between him and Prince Charles). But because the rules gave preference to males, Prince Andrew would inherit the throne before his older sister.


Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for WE

Because Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, had two daughters and no sons, none of that male-preference primogeniture stuff mattered in terms of their placement. But with each child her cousin Prince William has, Princess Beatrice moves farther away from the throne. If Beatrice looks familiar, it might be because of the headlines she made with the Dr. Seuss-like hat she wore to William and Catherine’s wedding. (The infamous topper later sold on eBay for more than $130,000, all of which went to charity.)


Princess Eugenie of York arrives in the parade ring during Royal Ascot 2017 at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2017 in Ascot, England
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Though she’s regularly seen at royal events, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s youngest daughter spends the bulk of her time indulging her interest in fine art. She has held several jobs in the art world, and is currently a director at Hauser & Wirth’s London gallery.


 Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex leaves after a visit to Prince Philip
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Like his older brother Andrew, Prince Edward—the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip—jumps the line ahead of his older sister, Princess Anne, because of the older rule that put males ahead of females.


 James, Viscount Severn, rides on the fun fair carousel on day 4 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show on May 11, 2013 in Windsor, England
Danny E. Martindale/Getty Images

James, Viscount Severn—the younger of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex’s two children, and their only son—turned 10 years old on December 17, 2017, and celebrated it as the 10th royal in line of succession. (The birth of the youngest Prince of Cambridge pushed him back a spot.)


Lady Louise Windsor during the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 15, 2013 in London, England.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Because the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 wasn’t enacted until 2015, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor—the older of Prince Edward’s two children—will always be just behind her brother in the line of succession.


Princess Anne, Princess Royal, visits the Hambleton Equine Clinic on October 10, 2017 in Stokesley, England
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Princess Anne, the Queen and Prince Philip’s second-born child and only daughter, may never rule over the throne in her lifetime, but at least she gets to be called “The Princess Royal.”


Peter Phillips poses for a photo on The Mall
John Nguyen - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The eldest child and only son of Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, stands just behind his mother in line. Interesting fact: Had Phillips’s wife, Autumn Kelly, not converted from Roman Catholicism to the Church of England before their marriage in 2008, Phillips would have lost his place in line.


Savannah Phillips attends a Christmas Day church service
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

On December 29, 2010, Peter and Autumn Phillips celebrated the birth of their first child, Savannah Anne Kathleen Phillips, who is also the Queen’s first great-grandchild. She’s currently 15th in line.


Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Isla Phillips and Peter Phillips attend a Christmas Day church service
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Less than two years after Savannah, Peter and Autumn Phillips had a second daughter, Isla, who stands just behind her sister in line. It wasn’t until 2017 that Savannah and Isla made their Buckingham Palace balcony debut (in honor of their great-grandmother’s 91st birthday).


 Zara Tindall arrives for a reception at the Guildhall
Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Not one to hide in the background, Zara Tindall—Princess Anne’s second child and only daughter—has lived much of her life in the spotlight. A celebrated equestrian, she won the Eventing World Championship in Aachen in 2006 and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year the same year (her mom earned the same title in 1971). She’s also Prince George’s godmother.


Mike Tindall, Zara Tindall and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James' Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire.
Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Zara Tindall’s daughter Mia may just be 4 years old, but she’s already regularly making headlines for her outgoing personality. And though she’s only 18th in line to the throne, her connection to the tippity top of the royal family is much closer: Prince William is her godfather.


David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon

David Armstrong-Jones, the eldest child of Princess Margaret, isn’t waiting around to see if the British crown ever lands on his head. The 56-year-old, who goes by David Linley in his professional life, has made a name for himself as a talented furniture-maker. His bespoke pieces, sold under the brand name Linley, can be purchased through his own boutiques as well as at Harrods.


Margarita Armstrong-Jones and Charles Patrick Inigo Armstrong-Jones
Chris Jackson-WPA Pool/Getty Images

David Armstrong-Jones’s only son, Charles, may be 20th in line to the throne, but the 18-year-old is the heir apparent to the Earldom of Snowdon.


Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) talks with Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones (C) as her father David Armstrong-Jones (L), 2nd Earl of Snowdon, known as David Linley

Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, the youngest child of David Armstrong-Jones and his only daughter, is also the only granddaughter of Princess Margaret. Now 15 years old (she'll turn 16 in June), Lady Margarita made headlines around the world in 2011 when she served as a flower girl at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.


Lady Sarah Chatto, the daughter of Princess Margaret arrives for her mother's memorial service

Lady Sarah Chatto, Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones’s only daughter, is the youngest grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In addition to serving as a bridesmaid to Princess Diana, she is Prince Harry’s godmother.


Lady Sarah Chatto (L) and her son Samuel Chatto (R) leave a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of Lord Snowdon at Westminster Abbey on April 7, 2017 in London, United Kingdom
Justin Tallis - WPA Pool /Getty Images

The first-born son of Lady Sarah Chatto and her husband, Daniel, has a long way to go to reach the throne: He’s currently 23rd in line.


Arthur Edwards, WPA Pool/Getty Images

For better or worse, Sarah and Daniel Chatto’s youngest son Arthur has become a bit of a social media sensation. He's made headlines recently as he regularly posts selfies to Instagram—some of them on the eyebrow-raising side, at least as far as royals go.


Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester makes a speech during the unveiling ceremony of London's first public memorial to the Korean War on December 3, 2014 in London, England
Carl Court/Getty Images

At 73 years old, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester is the youngest grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary. Formerly, he made a living as an architect, until the 1972 death of his brother, Prince William of Gloucester, put him next in line to inherit his father’s dukedom. On June 10, 1974, he officially succeeded his father as Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, and Baron Culloden.

Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
10 Fascinating Facts About Ella Fitzgerald
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Today marks what would have been the 101st birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, the pioneering jazz singer who helped revolutionize the genre. But the iconic songstress’s foray into the music industry was almost accidental, as she had planned to show off her dancing skills when she made her stage debut. Celebrate the birthday of the artist known as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, or just plain ol’ Lady Ella with these fascinating facts.


Though she attempted to launch her career as a dancer (more on that in a moment), Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz enthusiast from a very young age. She was a fan of Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, and truly idolized Connee Boswell of the Boswell Sisters. “She was tops at the time,” Fitzgerald said in 1988. “I was attracted to her immediately. My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it. I tried so hard to sound just like her.”


A photo of Ella Fitzgerald
Carl Van Vechten - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Fitzgerald’s childhood wasn’t an easy one. Her stepfather was reportedly abusive to her, and that abuse continued following the death of Fitzgerald’s mother in 1932. Eventually, to escape the violence, she moved to Harlem to live with her aunt. While she had been a great student when she was younger, it was following that move that her dedication to education faltered. Her grades dropped and she often skipped school. But she found other ways to fill her days, not all of them legal: According to The New York Times, she worked for a mafia numbers runner and served as a police lookout at a local brothel. Her illicit activities eventually landed her in an orphanage, followed by a state reformatory.


In the early 1930s, Fitzgerald was able to make a little pocket change from the tips she made from passersby while singing on the streets of Harlem. In 1934, she finally got the chance to step onto a real (and very famous) stage when she took part in an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater on November 21, 1934. It was her stage debut.

The then-17-year-old managed to wow the crowd by channeling her inner Connee Boswell and belting out her renditions of “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection.” She won, and took home a $25 prize. Here’s the interesting part: She entered the competition as a dancer. But when she saw that she had some stiff competition in that department, she opted to sing instead. It was the first big step toward a career in music.


Not long after her successful debut at the Apollo, Fitzgerald met bandleader Chick Webb. Though he was initially reluctant to hire her because of what The New York Times described as her “gawky and unkempt” appearance, her powerful voice won him over. "I thought my singing was pretty much hollering," she later said, "but Webb didn't."

Her first hit was a unique adaptation of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” which she helped to write based on what she described as "that old drop-the-handkerchief game I played from 6 to 7 years old on up."


Though it certainly takes a lot of courage to get up and perform in front of the world, those who knew and worked with Fitzgerald said that she was extremely shy. In Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz, trumpeter Mario Bauzá—who played with Fitzgerald in Chick Webb’s orchestra—explained that “she didn't hang out much. When she got into the band, she was dedicated to her music … She was a lonely girl around New York, just kept herself to herself, for the gig."


As her IMDb profile attests, Fitzgerald contributed to a number of films and television series over the years, and not just to the soundtracks. She also worked as an actress on a handful of occasions (often an actress who sings), beginning with 1942’s Ride ‘Em Cowboy, a comedy-western starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.


“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt,” Fitzgerald said in a 1972 interview in Ms. Magazine. “It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him—and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status—that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard … After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman—a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

Though it has often been reported that the club’s owner did not want to book Fitzgerald because she was black, it was later explained that his reluctance wasn’t due to Fitzgerald’s race; he apparently didn’t believe that she was “glamorous” enough for the patrons to whom he catered.


Ella Fitzgerald
William P. Gottlieb - LOC, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Among her many other accomplishments, in 1958 Fitzgerald became the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award. Actually, she won two awards that night: one for Best Jazz Performance, Soloist for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, and another for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook.


On June 27, 1991, Fitzgerald—who had, at that point, recorded more than 200 albums—performed at Carnegie Hall. It was the 26th time she had performed at the venue, and it ended up being her final performance.


In her later years, Fitzgerald suffered from a number of health problems. She was hospitalized a handful of times during the 1980s for everything from respiratory problems to exhaustion. She also suffered from diabetes, which took much of her eyesight and led to her having to have both of her legs amputated below the knee in 1993. She never fully recovered from the surgery and never performed again. She passed away at her home in Beverly Hills on June 15, 1996.


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