Denver Turns 160 This Week. So, How’d The Mile High City Get Its Name?

Before you ask: No, John Denver is not the city’s namesake.

Denver does owe its name from another man with the initials J.D., though. James William Denver was a Civil War general, a territorial governor and the eponym for the Mile High City.

While he was the territorial governor of the Kansas Territory, Denver played a role in appointing several county officials and a sheriff in what would become the county seat of Colorado’s Eastern Plains. Two of those appointees also have familiar names to Denverites — Ned Wynkoop and William H. Larimer.

Journalist Matt Masich spoke with Colorado Matters about the life of James William Denver and the history of the city that bears his name. Listen to their conversation at

General James William Denver – Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

This entry was posted in Colorado Matters, Colorado Public Radio, History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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