From the Northern Water Archives:
Happy anniversary, Colorado River. It was 100 years ago this summer that President Warren G. Harding signed a bill that renamed the “Grand River” to the “Colorado River.”
Before 1921, the stretch of river between its headwaters and its confluence with the Green River in Utah had been called the Grand River. Because of that prior designation, geographic locations such as Grand Lake, Grand County and Grand Junction received their names.
Through the work of Rep. Ed Taylor, legislation was passed at the federal level and in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. In an April 6, 1921, opinion piece published in the Steamboat Springs Pilot, Taylor wrote about the reasons behind his effort and how he overcame initial skepticism from the business community in Grand Junction. He noted that while the Green River might be longer, the Grand River contributed much more water to the main stem.
Taylor’s hard work led to passage of the act changing the river’s name, and President Harding’s signature made it official.