Jerry Kopel

by Jerry Kopel

Friday, August 1st is (or was) Colorado Day, celebrating the date when Colorado officially became a state in 1876. Here are some facts about Colorado you can use to impress your friends.

Which state is larger, Colorado of Wyoming?

If you said Wyoming, you were wrong. Colorado is 6,034 square miles larger than Wyoming. Incidentally, Colorado and Wyoming are the only states having unbroken and almost straight-line boundaries on all sides.

Why does it feel so good to be in the Colorado mountains?

Normal atmospheric pressure at sea level is 14.7 pounds to the square inch. That is the pressure exerted against the body by the weight, or density, of the atmosphere. The greater the altitude above sea level, the lighter the pressure.

In Denver, the atmospheric pressure is 12.2 pounds to the square inch. Having less pressure against your body is like having a load lifted off your back, which is actually what takes place. Obviously the pressure is even less in the mountains, depending on how high you are above sea level.

The Colorado state capitol building in Denver was completed in 1896. What was placed in its cornerstone?

The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1890 by the Masonic Lodge and contained a bible, American flag, Colorado and U.S. Constitutions, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, census reports, speeches by government officials, newspapers of July 4th, 1890, and gold and silver coins of all denominations. Denver became the permanent capitol of Colorado by territorial legislative law Dec.9, 1867.

WHat is the penalty for picking the state flower, the white and lavender columbine (Columbine Aquilegia Caerulea)?

You have committed a misdemeanor, but will not go to jail if convicted. Instead you will pay a fine of not less than $5 nor more than $50.

The Columbine became the state flower in 1899 in a statute passed by the 12th General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Charles Thomas on April 4, 1899. From 1899 until 1925, it was okay to pick the flower, but in 1925, the Colorado legislature passed the following:

"It is unlawful for any person to tear the state flower up by the roots when grown or growing upon any state, school, or other public lands or in any public highway or other public place or to pick or gather upon any such public lands or in any such public highway or place more than 25 stems, buds, or blossoms of such flower in any one day, and it is also unlawful for any person to pick or gather such flower upon private lands without the consent of the owner thereof first had or obtained."

The penalty hasn't been changed in 78 years. Five bucks was a lot of money in 1925, but isn't it time to "add a little more" to the fine?

What well-known Colorado author wrote about the "trickle down" economic theory 40 years before it became famous during the Reagan presidency?

Barron B. Beshoar, Colorado native and author of Out of the Depths, the history of the Ludlow massacre and the insurrection by Colorado miners. In the forward to this 1942 book, Beshoar writes:

"On the one hand, firmly entrenched and in full power and strength, were those who held to the theory that all benefits properly trickle down from above, and on the other hand were those who devotedly maintained the democratic proposition that men and women who toil with their backs and hands are entitled to share in the fruits of their productive labor."

(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)

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