As one of the hubs of the Wild West and one of the principal cities during the era of the Gold Rush and the cowboy era, Denver was home to many famous (and infamous) individuals. Many of these people have museums or other sites in the city where you can learn more about them and the time they lived in. Any of these places would make great destinations during a visit to the Mile High City. They are also perfect for visiting schools, homeschooling parents, and classrooms that need field trip ideas in Denver.
Buffalo Bill Cody
William Cody was born in 1846 in Iowa. His family moved west when he was a child, and he grew up in Kansas. He worked for a wagon train at a young age and became an expert in crossing the great plains. In 1860 he joined the short-lived but famous Pony Express. Eventually, he was given the nickname Buffalo Bill, under which he would become famous. He was a praised hunter and scout after the Civil War.
At the age of 26, Buffalo Bill co-starred in a western stage production with other scouts. He decided to create his own show and called it the Buffalo Bill Combination, along with Texas Jack and Wild Bill Hickok. In 1882 Bull started his famous Wild West show, which featured a cast of hundreds of people as well as live animals including buffalo and elk.
The show was a huge success and helped make the wild west famous. The show traveled across the United States and even to Britain. In 1917 Buffalo Bill died in Denver while visiting his sister. While he didn’t actually live in Denver, he traveled and performed there many times and was buried on Lookout Mountain above Denver at his request. Today his grave and museum are among the most-visited sites near the capital city.
The famous woman known as the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” was born in 1867 in Hannibal, Missouri. She moved to Colorado with her brother where she became active in the local Catholic church and helped with charitable causes. Margaret married a mining engineer and they lived for several years in the high mountains where her husband worked. Margaret and J.J. Brown became sudden millionaires when a company they owned shares in struck gold with the Little Johnny Mine.
After they moved into a home in Denver, Margaret continued her life of philanthropy as the effects of the silver crash caused slum cities to be built up around the town. The Browns also began traveling and went to many places around the world. A few years later, they quietly separated. While Margaret was on a trip to Egypt, she received news that her grandson was ill. She decided to return home and booked passage on the Titanic.
After the ill-fated ship sank, Margaret and the rest of the survivors in her lifeboat were rescued by the Carpathia. Once again, Molly Brown began helping people in need by translating for survivors and passing out blankets and supplies. She even raised $10,000 from the first-class passengers on the ship to help less fortunate survivors who had lost everything.
Horace and Baby Doe Tabor
Born in Vermont, Horace Tabor spent time in New England before being invited to settle in Kansas as part of the movement to populate the territory with abolitionists. He took part in the violent civil unrest known as “Bleeding Kansas”. After he married, he struggled to keep his farm alive, and he eventually moved to Denver. The area was still raw and unsettled and for twenty years Horace Tabor and his wife would work to make an income in the gold rush towns of the central mountains. Nearly overnight, they became wealthy after becoming partial owners of a bonanza mine.
Horace became the owner of many successful mines and businesses, including the Tabor Grand Opera House in Denver and several newspapers. He separated from his wife and married the famous Baby Doe Tabor, also recently divorced, which caused a scandal. By this time he was fabulously rich and moved into a Denver mansion. Eventually, they lost their money and after Horace’s death, Baby Doe spent 35 years living alone in a cabin that was on the land of one of their formerly prosperous mines, the Matchless Mine. Today, Baby Doe is perhaps more famous than her husband and is the subject of a Hollywood movie about her life.
The founder of one of the most famous beers in the world, Adolph Coors was born in Germany and came to America as a young man. After managing a bottling plant for several years, he went into business for himself and opened a brewery in partnership with Jacob Schueler. The company was eventually renamed Coors Golden Brewery. During Prohibition, the company survived by making other things including cement and porcelain. Today, it is the largest single-site brewery in the world. The company hosts popular brewery tours at its facility.