Denver brewery resilience and Titanic survivors: Fun facts about Denver

Denver brewery beers

More than one Denver brewery survived prohibition by selling near beer. Thankfully for Denverites, they’ve got plenty of the real thing these days. (photo: Laura Bly/USA TODAY)

DealChicken spends a lot of time hunting and pecking around Denver in search of the best daily deals, and maybe even a famous Denver brewery or two.  So it’s no surprise he’s come across more than a few interesting facts. Here’s a quick round up of fun facts that even your favorite fine-feathered know-it-all didn’t know until recently.

More than half of the nation’s breweries did not survive Prohibition. Coors, which began in 1873 as the Golden Brewery in Denver, stayed in business thanks to its diversification into bottling and cement manufacturing. The Denver brewery also made “near beer”, selling its alcoholic byproduct to hospitals and drug companies, and malted milk. The malted milk line was so successful, Coors kept it around until 1955. 

It wasn’t a Denver brewery, but a saloon that stood as the first permanent structure in Denver. But the name—if there ever was one—has long been lost. It’s fitting, then, that the oldest bar in the city also went nameless for a while. The space at 2376 15th St. opened as the Highland House in 1873, going by Whitie’s Restaurant, the Platte Bar and Paul’s Place before Jim and Angelo Karagas took it over in 1970. The brothers left the bar without a name for about two years before giving it the current moniker, My Brother’s Bar.

The Denver Broncos have retired only three uniforms in the history of the team. They are Frank Tripucka’s No. 18, Floyd Little’s No. 44 and John Elway’s No. 7. Elway wears a different uniform for the Broncos now: a suit for his role as vice president of football operations.

While many only know Margaret “Molly” Brown as the Titanic survivor portrayed by Kathy Bates in the hit 1997 movie, visitors to her Pennsylvania Avenue home also learn about her role as an advocate and activist. The Victorian-era house dates back to 1889 and underwent a full restoration in the 1970s after barely escaping demolition. Because of the many modifications made over the years, architectural investigative efforts such as microscopic paint analysis and the study of photos taken in 1910 were necessary. The home has proven as resilient as its “unsinkable” owner.

Led Zeppelin made its American debut on December 26, 1968 at Denver Auditorium Arena as one of the opening bands for Vanilla Fudge. Lead singer Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham received less-than-stellar reviews from the Rocky Mountain News music critic, “Singer Robert Plant—a cut above average in style, but no special appeal in sound. … John Bonham—a very effective drummer, but uninventive, unsubtle and unclimactic, just an uneventful solo…” Ouch.

Denverites like to brag that their city gets 300 days of sunny weather each year. Colorado State University’s Colorado Climate Center backs up this claim but provides a bit of context: If “sunny” means at least one hour of sunshine per day, then, yes, Denver averages 300 “sunny” days per year. In other words, don’t toss this frequently repeated “fact” out at a cocktail party full of meteorologists.

In 1893, Colorado became the second state to allow women to vote, and since then, the female vote has remained strong in the state capital. For example, as of January 2012, Denver had 126,181 female voters. Compare that to 108,644 male registered voters. The state’s early suffragettes would be so proud.

While ‘80s TV drama “Dynasty” was certainly set in Denver, the city itself only appeared on screen for the show’s opening credits and select establishing shots of Colbyco and Denver Carrington. Colbyco exteriors were shot at 1801 California St., formerly Quest Tower, while 621 17th St. stood in for Denver Carrington. Everything else, including the manse occupied by the Carrington family and the “Denver” penthouse Alexis called home, were located in California. Die-hard “Dynasty” fans: Put the skyscrapers on your must-see list and relive the ‘80s glory, shoulder pads and all.

Denver’s National Western Stock Show reigns as the world’s largest rodeo. It began in 1906, and the Grand Champion steer sold for 33 cents a pound that year. When the show celebrated its 100th anniversary, the Grand Champion steer sold for $58 a pound. Fun fact: In 1972, the Grand Champion steer was ruled ineligible after organizers learned it had been previously entered in a Kansas City show as a white steer. Its owners dyed it black for the Denver show, a violation of show rules.

Trapper turned Denver founding father William McGaa named several downtown streets, including Wazee for his wife at the time and Wewatta for his mistress. Bet that made for an awkward moment any time the couple took the Wewatta route.

Did you already know about the old Denver brewery that survived the Prohibition and about McGaa’s naming conventions? Find out more about Southern Utah history.