The Centennial State

Our State Symbols



The Colorado State Flag was designed in 1911 by Andrew Carlisle Carson, and adopted by the Colorado General Assembly (our state legislature) on June 5, 1911.  The flag consists of three equal stripes, blue on the top and bottom with a white stripe in the enter.  On the face of the flag is a red letter "C" for "Colorado" and inside the letter itself is a golden disc.   The colors themselves are symbolic of the colors found in our State's geography:

  • Gold for the large amount of SUNSHINE we receive.

  • White for our snowcapped mountains.

  • Blue for our clear, blue skies.

  • Red, for the reddish color of much of our ground.
Our State Flag

Our flag has changed very little since it was authorized in 1911.  In the early days there was disagreement about the "tone" of the colors, so in 1929 our General Assembly stipulated that the Red, White and Blue of our State Flag would be the same shade as the Red, White and Blue of our United States Flag.  The only other change occurred in 1964 when the General Assembly established guidelines for the size and position of the letter "C".  It is supposed to be circular (not an oblong "c" that is two-thirds the height of the flag, and positioned towards the "pole-edge" of the flag, not centered.


The Seal Of the State of Colorado is maintained by the Secretary of State, who is the ONLY official authorized to affix it to a document.   The first Territorial Seal was designed by Lewis Ledyard Weld whom President Abraham Lincoln appointed to be our Territorial Secretary in 1861.  It is also believed that Territorial Governor William Gilpin assisted in the design of the Territorial Seal.

Our State Seal

Our State Seal is almost identical to the ORIGINAL Territorial Seal adopted by the First Territorial Assembly in 1861...fifteen years before Colorado became a state.  The Seal is in the shape of a circle, two and a half inches in diameter.  At the top is a pyramid containing the "eye of God" with golden rays radiating in both directions.

Below the "Eye of God" is a ROMAN FACES.  The FACES in ancient Rome was a symbol of higher magistrate's authority and was carried ahead of the magistrates by officials known as "lictors".  The faces consisted of a bundle of rods, usually birch or elm, symbolizing the power of magistrates to punish those who committed a crime.  The rods were bound together by a scarlet cord, and protruding from the bundle was an ax which, in ancient Rome, symbolized the power over life and death.

Today the faces has come to symbolize a republican form of government.  The bundle of rods reminds us that there is strength in numbers...a bundle of sticks is much harder to break and individual sticks.  The ax has come to symbolize authority and leadership.

Below the faces is the heraldic shield representing our state itself.  In the red field at the top of the shield are three snow-capped mountains with clouds above them.  The golden, lower portion of the shield contains a crossed sledge hammer and pick...both tools of the gold miners who helped to build our state.

Below the shield is a semi-circular scroll   bearing our State's motto, "Nil Sine Numine".

The only change our Seal has undergone from the original Territorial Seal is in the outer circle of red.  The original seal bore the words "Territory of Colorado".  Our Seal now identifies us as the "State of Colorado" and shows the date of our statehood, "1876".


"Nil  Sine Numine"

Our State Motto is a Latin phrase.  "Nil" means NOT or NOTHING and "Sine" means WITHOUT.  The Latin word "Numine" has been the subject of some disagreement.

In the early days of our Territory and State when the quest for gold and the riches it afforded were so important, some residents jokingly inferred that the State's motto meant "NOTHING WITHOUT A NEW MINE!"  On a more serious level, others argued that it meant "Nothing Without Providence".  The use of the word "Providence" would be consistent with terminology used by other states to justify thinking of the time that Divine Providence directed the events of our young Nation.  Actually the word "Numine" refers to a divine being, whether god or goddess.  Perhaps the best interpretation for our motto is:

"Nothing without the Deity"


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     Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep  are native to Colorado and can be found only in the Rocky Mountains, usually above the timberline.  They are the largest and most widely known wild sheep on the North American Continent.  They are renown for their exceptional sight, smell and hearing, but are best known for their incredible balance and agility.   They can navigate some of the most rugged terrain, and leap from place to place at great speed.  Their hooves have shock-absorbing elastic pads that grip even the most slippery surfaces.

     The huge circular horns of the rams curl backwards and then return to the front, sometimes making a full circle ("full-curl").  The female sheep has smaller horns that rarely grow longer than 15 inches.

Designated our STATE ANIMAL in 1961, it is illegal to pursue, hunt, wound, or kill them (except as expressly provided by State Law).  The profile of a large ram is the official symbol of the Colorado Department of Wildlife, and appears on official vehicles and most official forms.

STATE BIRD LARK BUNTING   (Calamospiza melanocoryus Stejneger)

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The Lark Bunting is an annual visitor to Colorado, migrating into our plains areas in April, then returning south in September.  During the winter months the male and female look quite similar except that the males are slightly larger.  The rest of the year the male is black with white wing patches and edging.  The Lark Bunting was chosen as our STATE BIRD on April 29, 1931.

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Greenback Cutthroat Trout are a member of the trout, salmon and whitefish family.  They have dark, round spots on the sides and tail but are distinguished from other cutthroat trout by their larger but fewer number of spots.  The red stripes on each side of the throat is common to cutthroat trout, and is the feature that gave them their name.  They are a coldwater fish that prefer cold, clear, gravel-bottom streams and lakes.

In the 1980s it appeared that the Greenback Cutthroat was in danger of extinction, and they were placed on the Endangered Species lists.  Colorado, in co-operation with other States and the Federal Government, has worked hard to re-introduce this colorful fish to our lakes and rivers.  For many years the more common Rainbow Trout was considered by many Coloradoans to be our State Fish, but no official action was ever taken to designate it as such.  On March 15, 1994 the Colorado General Assembly took formal action to officially recognize our State Fish...not the Rainbow Trout...The Greenback Cutthroat.


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Yes, there is an official State Insect, thanks to a group of Colorado students who lobbied the State's General Assembly in 1996.  The Hairstreak Butterfly lives high in the mountains (usually from 6,500 to 7,500 feet) on both sides of the Continental divide, and looks like the butterfly at the left.  It's actual size is about two inches in width from wing tip to wing tip.


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Photo by Piaw Na


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STATE SONG bn_red.gif (971 bytes)  Click on the Red Button to PLAY our State Song.


Words and music by:  A. J. Flynn (1915)

Where the snowy peaks gleam in the moonlight,
     Above the dark forests of pine,
And the wild foaming waters dash onward,
     Toward lands where the tropic stars shine;
Where the scream of the bold mountain eagle,
     Responds to the notes of the dove,
Is the purple robed West, the land that is best,
     The pioneer land that we love.

Tis the land where the columbines grow,
Overlooking the plains far below,
While the cool summer breeze in the evergreen trees
Softly sings where the columbines grow.

The bison is gone from the upland,
     The deer from the canyon has fled,
The home of the wolf is deserted,
     The antelope moans for his dead,
The war whoop re-echoes no longer,
     The Indian's only a name,
And the nymphs of the grove in their loneliness rove,
     But the columbine blooms just the same.

Let the violet brighten the brookside,
     In sunlight of earlier spring,
Let the fair clover bedeck the green meadow,
     In days when the orioles sing,
Let the golden rod herald the autumn,
     But, under the midsummer sky,
In its fair Western home, may the columbine bloom,
     Till our great mountain rivers run dry.

"Where the Columbines Grow" was adopted as the State Song of the State of Colorado by the General Assembly on May 8, 1915.

STATE FOSSIL: The Stegosaurus
STATE GRASS: Blue Grama Grass
STATE FOLK DANCE: The Square Dance

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