Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Place Names

Did you know that the name of Golden has nothing to do with gold? What name is Calhan a misspelling of? How many ladies in Park County could the town of Alma have possibly been named for? 

In the early 1940s, the Colorado Historical Society published A to Z listings of Colorado place names and their origins. The lists appeared, letter by letter, in issues of Colorado Magazine from 1940 to 1943. You can read these issues online starting with the letter A, in vol. 17, no. 1 (January 1940) and concluding with W,X,Y,Z in vol. 20, no. 3 (May 1943).

You can also find information on Colorado place names in the Year Book of the State of Colorado, available online from our library. For example, the 1940 yearbook contains some history on the naming of Colorado’s mountain passes. The 1918 yearbook contains descriptions of each Colorado county, which include background on the origins of the county names or those of locations within the county.

1) It was named for Thomas L. Golden, an early settler.
2) Calahan, after a contractor who built the railroad in the area
3) Three. It could have been named for Alma James, wife of the town merchant; Alma Dow Graves, wife of a mine operator; or Alma Jaynes, popular daughter of an early settler.