Colorado’s Most Significant Artifact?

The Steelworks Center was recently invited to submit an item from its collections for public voting to be “Colorado’s Most Significant Artifact.” This is an annual campaign sponsored by Colorado Collection Connections, a program of the Auraria Library in Denver. Voting is a public process through the CCC website and will continue through November 30. Only one vote per email address per day is allowed. Last year, the Steelworks Center submitted Mine Rescue Car Number One and we placed in the top 10. We would really appreciate your votes again this year!

This Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) ledger begins with the firm’s original Articles of Incorporation on October 21, 1892, when William Jackson Palmer’s Colorado Coal and Iron Company merged with John Osgood’s Colorado Fuel Company.  It continues with Board of Directors Meeting Minutes through October 29, 1903, just before the company was sold by President John Osgood to the Rockefeller family.  It documents the purpose of the corporation, the rights and liabilities of the shareholders and directors, and subsequent Board activities. Measuring 14.25” wide x 17.75” long, the ledger contains 345 pages, handwritten in ink.

Why is this artifact significant? The merger of the Colorado Fuel Company with the Colorado Coal and Iron Company birthed the largest and most powerful steel and coal mining company west of the Mississippi River. The operations were originally established to produce steel rails for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad’s expanding narrow-gauge empire.  But from 1892 to 1993 CF&I grew to become the largest private land owner, water user, tax payer and employer in the Rocky Mountain Region, a record not equaled during or since that time. The company was a driving force in Colorado’s economy throughout much of the 20th century.

How does this artifact relate to Colorado history? This ledger documents the establishment of CF&I as a Colorado business. In the following years CF&I became the leader in the industrialization of the American West. Throughout the next century, the company grew to become the first vertically integrated steel mill west of the Mississippi River and Colorado’s largest coal mining operation. In addition, the company operations had profound effects on changes in industrial technology and advancement, labor relations, company towns, corporate sponsored education and sociological practices, and industrial medical techniques that are still used today.

To vote in this year’s Colorado Collections Connections 2015 Colorado’s Most Significant Artifacts Campaign, go to

The ledger with the Artifacts of Incorporation are available for viewing inside the Steelworks Museum, along with other museum exhibits, from 10:00-4:00 Monday through Saturday. Admission is $6 per adult, $4 per child. Members of the Steelworks Center are always admitted for free.

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