Denver is a city built on the courage and hard work of generations of daring pioneers. The Mile High City was founded in November 1858, when General William Larimer staked out a square mile area at the confluence of South Plate River and Cherry Creek, with the intention of creating a large town that would cater for the needs of gold prospectors, ranchers and other pioneers. The newly formed Denver City epitomized the wild spirit of the west. It was a place of meeting for miners, outlaws, merchants, cowboys and many other adventurers who sought to make their fortune in the rough country of the Front Range area. Denver quickly become more than a simple frontier town, and outlasted many other similar settlements, to grow in the modern metropolis of today. Despite its modern skyscrapers and busy intersections, the western origin of Denver is still visible to this day.
The residents of the Mile High City are proud to be the descendants of the first pioneers, whose courage and commitment built the American West and changed the destiny of the nation. Perhaps the best place to learn about the Western heritage of Denver is the Denver Art Museum, which has an entire wing dedicated to the art of the American West. The institution hosts one of the country’s top collections of Western art, ranging from 19th century to the present, as well as an exquisite collection of Native American artifacts. Famous Western artists whose works are featured in the Denver Art Museum are Frederic Remington, Alfred Jacob Miller and George Catlin. The Native Art collection is among the largest in the nation, with artifacts from more than 100 tribes, including the local Plains Indians.
The Western heritage of Denver is lively and vibrant, and it can also be experienced outside the walls of museums and other cultural institutions. For a feeling of the atmosphere of the turn of the century Denver, head to the Larimer Square, the original main street of the city. Many buildings in Larimer Square date back from the 1860s, when Denver was a booming Western town, trying to become a center for the bourgeoning Colorado territory.
Visitors can try out some typical Western cuisine, at one of the cities Western themed eateries. The oldest restaurant in Denver, the Buckhorn Exchange, was opened in 1893, and since then it has treated its guests with fine American frontier delicacies. You can try out some authentic foods such as buffalo tongue or elk steak, all in an ambiance which honors the memory of the old West.
If you wish to try out some genuine Western clothing, Rockmount Ranch Wear is the place to be. The owners of the store have actually invented a staple piece of Western apparel – the Western snap shirt. You can shop for them and many other authentic pieces of Western gear at this historic store.
Those looking for some adrenaline rush, Western style, will not want to miss the world’s largest stock show and indoor rodeo, the annual National Western Stock Show. Visitors can get a glimpse of the life of real cowboys at the rodeo performances, can visit the livestock expositions, shop for some genuine cowboy boots or taste great Western food at this event.
No matter your preferences, if you’re interested in the American West, Denver is a place where you can experience the heritage of the great men and women who founded this magnificent city.