Denver founder and Mayor. Richard Sopris spent the years 1836 to 1858 in Indiana, where he was a contractor on the Whitewater canal, then for five years captain of an Ohio River steamboat, and later, a railroad contractor. He arrived in Auraria, Colorado (competing precursor town to Denver) on March 15, 1859, and became one of the original shareholders of the town. He prospected for gold along the Platte River and at Gregory's Diggings (now in Gilpin County), where he engaged in mining. Elected president of the Miners' Union, an organization formed to maintain law and order, and establish laws pertaining to mining claims. In autumn of 1859 elected to represent Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory, in the very first Kansas legislature located in Topeka. His district at that time comprised the entire mining region of the eastern portion of the Rocky Mountains in what is now Colorado. He brought his family from Indiana to Denver in 1860. Subsequently on a mapping and gold exploration trip through the Rocky Mountains he and his party discovered the well known hot springs at what is now Glenwood Springs on July 23, 1860, and nearby Mount Sopris is named after him. He and two others drafted a constitution and city laws for Denver and he was chosen to be the first city council president. In 1861 he was appointed a captain in Company C, 1st Colorado Cavalry and served in the Civil War for one year. He was sergeant-at-arms of the house in the second territorial legislature; was a delegate to the first constitutional convention of Colorado, served as Arapaho county sheriff 1864-68, deputy sheriff 1873-78, mayor of Denver 1878-81, and in 1881 was chosen park commissioner, the first to hold the office, and continued in the position until 1890.
Bio by: Fred Beisser