Working as a Park Ranger for many years, I became fascinated with visiting other national park sites.  One of my most memorable visits occurred at Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore.  I got to learn all about our national anthem as well as a lot of history behind America’s flag.

Most people know the meaning behind the stars and stripes — how the red and white stripes designate the 13 original colonies and the fifty stars represent our 50 states.  But lesser known are the stories behind our state flags.

So when I happened to be driving through Nederland the other day and saw the Colorado flag prominently displayed, I did a little research.

Even though Colorado became a state in 1876, it didn’t until 1911.  Designed by Andrew Carlisle Johnson, its simplicity doesn’t take away from its eye-catching design.  Three horizontal stripes of blue-white-blue are emblazoned with a prominent red C with a bright yellow fill.

Apparently, the precise hue of the colors presented great controversy early on, with variations of color being common.  In 1929, the legislature stipulated the blue and red to be exactly the same as our national flag.

The colors of the Colorado flag are thought to have special meaning relating to our incredible scenery and geography.  The white represents the ample snow of the Rocky Mountains, the red refers to the red soil (think Red Rocks), the gold its ample sunshine and the blue symbolizes the blue skies.

I’ve often thought the gold could also stand for our state’s abundant mining history.  After all, the gold rush of 1859 led to the development of many of our state’s towns and roadways.  But I wouldn’t argue that we have ample sunshine either.

However Carlisle came up with the design of the state’s flag, it’s a winner.  I found out how popular the flag design is while working as a retail manager for the local ski resort.  Our best-selling merchandise were the keychains, magnets, and t-shirts that included the Colorado flag design on it.  There are even standalone stores called the “Colorado Store” that sell anything and everything with the flag design on it, including glassware, slippers and hoodies.

I love living in Colorado because of the beauty of our natural surroundings.  The Colorado flag reminds me why.