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Denver's Brown Palace Hotel. Photo by David Friedel / Flickr

13 Little-Known Secrets About Denver

Denver is full of history, and no one knows it better than the city's tour guides. Here are 13 pieces of trivia that give you an inside look at the Mile High City. 

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Every city has its deep, dark secrets. Lucky for us, Denver wears the quirky bits of its history like a badge of honor—or at least the city’s many tour guides do. We reached out to a few area guides to find out their favorite creepiest, funniest, craziest, or silliest Denver secrets. How many of these did you already know?

1. Three is Better Than One

In 1905, Colorado cycled through three governors in one day. After it was discovered that two candidates had conducted voter fraud during the 1904 elections, Governor James H. Peabody was declared the winner of the gubernatorial race, on the condition that he resigned the next day. And so it came to be that Governor Peabody was sworn in on March 16, 1905—replacing Governor Alva Adams, who was initially declared the winner after the election—and was replaced on March 17, 1905 by Lieutenant Governor Jesse F. McDonald. And there you have it: One race, 24 hours, and three governors.

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—John Georgis of Banjo Billy’s Bus Tours

2. Creating American Classics

While the birthplace of the cheeseburger can be debated, the beloved sandwich was trademarked in Denver in 1935 by Louis E. Ballast, owner of the old Humpty Dumpty Barrel drive-in restaurant on North Speer Boulevard, where Key Bank sits today. There is even a granite marker in front of the bank to celebrate this achievement.

—Rick Tyson of Centennial Tour

3. Don’t Look Underground

When the Brown Palace Hotel opened in 1892, it allegedly had a crematorium in the basement. There’s no record that it was ever used, but that doesn’t stop it from fueling rumors that the grand hotel is haunted.

—Robert Cashel of Denver Inside and Out

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4. Cashing In

In its first year of operation in 1906, the new Mint, located in Denver, produced 167,371,035 gold and silver coins, which were valued at $27 million. Today the Denver Mint can exceed an output of more than 50 million coins per day.

The U.S. Mint

5. Famous Residents

A soon-to-be-famous Bob Dylan lived for a short while at 1736 East 17th Avenue in Denver while he was doing a regular series of gigs at the Satire Lounge just down the street.

—Diana Greenberg of Colorado Segway Tours

6. Shady Practices

Benjamin F. Stapleton served as mayor of Denver from 1923 to 1931, and although he is credited with many civic improvements around town, it was also known that he worked closely with the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, according to Robert Alan Goldberg’s book Hooded Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Colorado, the KKK helped get Stapleton elected, and in turn he appointed multiple Klansmen to positions in the government.

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—John Georgis of Banjo Billy’s Bus Tours

7. Maybe Next Time, Boys

Despite the fact that they were destined to rise to stardom, when the Beatles played Red Rocks in 1964, the concert didn’t even sell out.

—Robert Cashel of Denver Inside and Out

8. Third Time’s a Charm

There are three mile-high markers on three different steps of Denver’s historic Capitol. As new technology has made it increasingly more accurate to measure exactly where one mile above sea level is, the estimation has moved from the 15th step to the 18th step and, lastly, the 13th.

—John Georgis of Banjo Billy’s Bus Tours

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9. Drink in Some History

The oldest bar in Denver is actually My Brother’s Bar, which opened in 1873 on Platte and 15th streets. Many believe it’s Buckhorn Exchange, because it had the first liquor license, but before prohibition, liquor licenses weren’t required. Luckily for locals and visitors, both establishments remain open (and are incredibly popular) today.

—Rick Tyson of Centennial Tours

10. Satiate Your Sweet Tooth

Hammond’s Candies, which opened in 1920, produces more than 7 million candy canes per year, with one batch of candy weighing between 70 and 90 pounds and making up to 550 candy canes.

—Anna Abromovich of Hammond’s Candies

(Watch: Inside Hammond Candies’ Factory)

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11. And the Street Goes On and On and On …

While this fact is often debated depending on where one is measuring from, Colfax Avenue is certainly a contender for the longest continuous U.S. street. Playboy even dubbed it “Longest, Wickedest Street in America” in the 1970s.

—Diana Greenberg of Colorado Segway Tours

12. Put Your Money Where Your Whisky Is

Pints Pub has the largest selection of single malt whisky in the world—124 of 125 Scottish distilleries are represented here, and nearly 200 overall—and you can spend up to $1,000 a glass on the rarest bottles.

—Rick Tyson of Centennial Tours

13. Music First

Led Zeppelin played their first-ever American show at the Denver Auditorium Arena, which was located where the Buell Theatre is now on 13th and Champa streets, on December 26, 1968.

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—Diana Greenberg of Colorado Segway Tours

—Brown Palace photo by David Friedel / Flickr

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