Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Traveling Tuesday: Pike’s Peak

Traveling Tuesday: Pike’s Peak 

“Pike’s Peak or bust!”

The snow was still deep in the Rocky Mountains when word got out that gold could be found in the rocks and rivers of western Kansas and southwestern Nebraska Territories. Starting in mid-summer 1858 and lasting until just before the creation of Colorado Territory in February 1861, the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush (later known as the Colorado Gold Rush), brought more than 100,000 prospectors flooding across the continent to seek their fortune. Some came east from California where they’d landed ten years earlier, while others traveled west, and a small percentage even crossed an ocean in search of riches.

At 14,115 feet, Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and named for American explorer Zebulon Pike, who interestingly never made it to the summit. Even though the rush was named Pike’s Peak, in reality, the location centered eighty-five miles north of there. Reporters began to use the area as a reference because it was well-known and considered important at the time.

The “Fifty-Niners” (named after 1859, the peak year of the rush), coined the phrase “Pike’s Peak or Bust.” Painted on the side of covered wagon canvases and scrawled in letters home, the phrase became the mantra of many a prospector.

People were so intent on finding wealth, that some arrived in the late fall and early winter of 1858, then
Pixabay/Beverly Lussier
realized the error of their ways when there was no food or fuel to be had. During the initial years of the rush, most prospectors laid claims along the South Platte River in Clear Creek Canyon. By 1861, over 150,000 ounces of gold had been found with another 225,000 ounces in 1862, leading Congress to establish the Denver Mint. By 1865 production was 1.25 million ounces!

The population exploded, and Denver City and Boulder City developed into cities from mining camps. Some of the smaller camps such as Auraria and Saint Charles City were absorbed by larger camps and towns. Other mining camps became ghost towns, such as Central City, Black Hawk, and Idaho Springs.

The organization of Colorado Territory just before the Civil War had a major impact on Union control of the mineral-rich area of the Rocky Mountains. It was thought that statehood was imminent by war’s end, but the bill was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson in 1865. Colorado Territory would not become the State of Colorado for another twenty-one years.


About Gold Rush Bride Caroline

She thinks he’s high-handed and out for her gold. He thinks she’s difficult and money-hungry. Will they discover that love is the true treasure?

Scarred in a childhood accident, Caroline Vogel has yet to find a man willing to marry her, so she heads to the Pike’s Peak goldfields to pan enough ore to become a woman of means. When she and the handsome assistant trail boss hit it off, she begins to hope her future may not be spent alone. Then she catches wind of dark secrets from the man’s past, and she’s not sure what or who to believe.

Orphaned as a teenager, Oliver Llewellyn stole to survive, then used his skills for the army during the war. Nowadays, he applies his knowledge to catch dangerous thieves for the Pinkerton Agency, so guarding a young woman during a wagon train journey should be easy. But he didn’t count on the fact she’d angered a man bent on revenge. He also didn’t count on losing his heart.

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