In 1803 France sold the Louisiana Territory, including Colorado, to the United States. In 1806 James Wilkinson, the governor of the Louisiana Territory, sent Zebulon Montgomery Pike to explore the region and to survey its boundaries. Pike led the first U.S. expedition into Colorado and explored southeastern Colorado and the San Luis Valley, but the Spanish arrested him when he crossed into Spanish territory. The boundary between Spanish America and the United States remained in dispute until 1819, when the Adams-Onis Treaty gave southern and western Colorado to Spain and northern and eastern Colorado to the United States. Another U.S. exploration party in 1820 under Stephen H. Long investigated the area’s resources. Long reported that the eastern Colorado plains constituted part of one great desert.
In the 1820s and 1830s hardy traders and fur trappers, called mountain men, began pushing into Colorado in search of beaver and other fur-bearing animals. Trading posts were built and both the Native Americans and the mountain men traded furs and manufactured goods. One of the most famous trading posts was Bent’s Fort on the Arkansas River, where American hunter, trapper, and scout Kit Carson occasionally lived. By the 1840s, however, the beaver trade in Colorado had declined. The posts were abandoned one by one, although Bent’s Fort was, for a time, a post on the Santa Fe Trail, the overland trade route extending from western Missouri to Santa Fe in present-day New Mexico. "Colorado" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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