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A Brief History of Golden

Downtown Golden in the 1940s

12,000 Years of Culture

Before being displaced by white settlers, native populations called this area home for more than 12,000 years. What we now call Golden is part of the traditional lands of the Ute, Arapahoe, and Cheyenne tribes.

You can learn more about this rich, cultural legacy in an ethnographic study published by the Golden History Museum & Park in 2022.

From Gold to Golden

Golden was founded in 1859 as a mining supply town during Colorado’s gold rush era. But despite what most people think, the town was not named for the precious yellow metal, but was named after Thomas L. Golden, a gold prospector who arrived in Jefferson County in 1858.

Golden's fertile valley, now the site of the renowned Coors complex, also attracted farmers, and thriving coal and clay industries soon followed.

In 1862, Golden City rose to prominence as the capital of the Colorado Territory, and the territorial legislature convened here until 1867 in a building that now houses the Old Capitol Grill.

By the late 1860s, Golden City was not only the heart of Jefferson County, but also the capital of the provisional Jefferson Territory. While we were briefly overshadowed when Denver became the state capital in 1876, Golden continued to flourish.

Past & Present

Golden celebrates its diverse past, which has made us the culturally rich community we are today. Whether you live in Golden, or are visiting for the first time, we invite you to learn more about Golden past and present, visit our museums, and explore our vibrant art scene.

Golden History Museum & Park

To learn more about Golden’s fascinating history, you can visit the Golden History Museum & Park for free! Located within walking distance of each other on the banks of Clear Creek, both the museum and park offer unique insights into the past.

Child and her mom explore books available in a Little Free Library.

The Golden History Museum offers changing exhibits and dynamic displays that highlight the City’s collection of 15,000 (and growing!) historic objects. Those objects not on current display are available to explore through the museum’s extensive online collection.

Check the GHM event calendar for opportunities to see the past come alive at the Golden History Park with blacksmithing demonstrations and Homestead Open Houses on select Saturdays in the summer. Classes and other educational opportunities are also available throughout the year.

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